Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southwestern Deserts
April, 2011
Regional Report

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Aloe loaded with bloom stalks.

Aloes Not Blooming

My aloe plants have not produced much in the way of flowers this season. They typically bloom later than others I notice around the neighborhood, probably because they are planted in a northern exposure close to the house that does not receive any sun in winter. When the angle of the sun changes as spring arrives, they usually start sending up bloom stalks.

This year they produced a couple half-hearted attempts at flower stalks. It is a disappointment because I enjoy being distracted by all the hummingbirds that zip around their blossoms. It is likely that the flower stalks got nipped in the bud, so to speak, by one or both of the freezes we experienced this winter. Aloe is a succulent genus native to arid regions of southern Africa and Arabia. Although a plant may tolerate a dip in temperatures below freezing, the flower stalks are more cold tender. If they get zapped, they are done for the season and we just have to wait for next year to enjoy their exotic flower shapes.

This winter, I twice carted containerized aloes indoors to protect them for a few nights, but I should have draped frost cloth or an old blanket over the ground dwellers. They have soldiered through cold in the past to bloom, but this winter we had a double whammy of freezing periods, and that was evidently more than they could tolerate.

The exception was the basic aloe vera, which has produced its yellow bloom stalk. And I have seen many lovely aloes blooming at other locations around the Valley. A gardener who lives nearby told me that one of his treasures, an aloe tree (Aloe dichotoma), bloomed for the first time this winter. He wisely covered all of his frost-tender cacti and succulents to protect them when the freeze was predicted. Mea culpa!

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