Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Delightful Garden Aloe - Aloe x 'Safari Rose'

For three years now I have enjoyed a little tough and well-behaved Aloe in my garden called, Aloe x 'Safari Rose'. I don't see it in the garden centers and I am not sure why. It is certainly one of my best plants. It requires no maintenance, is easy to care for, and it performs and looks great all of the time. There is a lot to like about Aloe x 'Safari Rose.'

Aloe x 'Safari Rose'                                                                                                         S. Reeve

At three years this plant is slowly offsetting while maintaining a clearly defined clump. In this photo it is getting slightly shaded by a Hibiscus so is blooming more than I expected. The slightly bi-colored and rosy peach-colored blooms come up over a period of time and are long-blooming, from late fall until winter, and it will sometimes throw up a flower-or-two during the year. This is a compact and upright selection with leaves only about a foot long and flower stems about two feet tall. This particular plant was bred for sterility and tends to have larger and more numerous flowers than the straight species. The leaves are toothed and tend to be tipped in a blushing red. 

In the whole time, I have had this plant it has shown no indication of disease or Aloe mite. Researching this, revealed that this particular plant was bred for disease resistance. It is said to be extremely resistant to aloe mite, which is looking to be a fearsome foe. Two of my other Aloes had it, and since I garden organically, my options for treating it are limited. One of the Aloes I had to throw away, and the other I cut out the cancerous growth and sprayed with hydrogen peroxide. This is what The Aloe Farm in South Africa says about it, "Hydrogen peroxide 12% (40 volume ) undiluted with wetting agent added can also be useful as part of a treatment program for Aloe cancer. It is always best to physically remove (cut out) the deformities/growths caused by the mite before spraying." No way will I use a toxic neonicotinoid systemic on this problem and poison my bees and hummingbirds. 

This aloe is one of a number in the Safari series developed by Charles Andrew De Wet at his nursery in South Africa. The breeding program started in 1973. In 2007, he chose this plant and named it 'Safari Rose' as it demonstrated superior disease resistance, attractive form, and a long bloom period. There are also 'Safari Sunset', 'Safari Orange', and 'Safari Sunrise'. I liked 'Safari Rose' so much that when I saw 'Safari Sunset' in the store I bought it. 

   Aloe 'Safari Sunset'                                                                                                                                   S. Reeve

This plant has only been in the ground for a month-or-so and it is blooming precociously. Look at the size of that flower spike! So far, it appears that this a faster-growing selection. If this flower size is typical it is clearly an over-achiever. Big flowers are a bonus, but I am also happy that these are also mite resistant because finding aloe mite damage, and cutting it out is not my idea of a good time. 

Hummingbirds and honeybees like the flowers, however, breeding for sterility has reduced the pollen to only a sparse amount. Fortunately, the plant also makes copious amounts of nectar to feed hungry flyers. Aloes are important honey bee plants in South Africa. The flowers open sequentially from the bottom up. This plant needs well-draining soil and can tolerate temperatures down to 23-25 degrees F. If you have a garden in Zones 9-11 this is a great plant for you. Even if you don't, this would be a good one for a container. 

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