Proselytizing for Grass Aloes
Sat, 18 Feb 2006 11:08:53 PST
Hi Gang,

I have to brag about Aloe cooper, a deciduous Aloe.  OK, it is not really a 
bulb, but it surely is geophyte-like.  In any event, it is not too unrelated to 
Bulbine and Bulbinella, but it has a more pronounced underground storage 

It is supposed to be hardy well into zone 8, but I don't know for sure.  In 
this area it has only seen 23 F (-5 C) for a night or two.  In fact, such 
temperatures didn't knock down the leaves much though they did burn a bit.  Maybe 
the plant is deciduous in very dry climates and it never has a chance to die 
back here in the greater Houston, TX area.  

I grew the plants from seeds purchased at Silverhill Seeds.  They germinated 
easily, grew quickly in summer heat and ample water, and shrugged off their 
first winter.  Two plants started blooming when they were about 18-20 months 
old; these 2 plants make lots of offsets and produced a single bloom stalk each.  
Perhaps this next season they will really perform.  I plan to move them up 
from gallon cans into 2- or 3-gallon containers.  They clearly want to get 

They don't set seed on their own.  They don't even seem to accept their own 
pollen.  To encourage them to set seed is easy enough; I just use a small 
paintbrush and insert it into the flowers beginning on the day they open.  I keep 
the brush dry and indoors in-between sessions. As near as I can tell the pollen 
is viable on day 1, and the stigma is receptive on day 2.  However, I just 
make sure to visit each flower with the brush several times over the course of 2 
or 3 days.  Obviously, 2 or more plants are needed because I was unable to 
encourage them to accept their own pollen.  

LINK:  Information from  

I don't think the flower is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen, but it 
is charming in its own way and the plants are generous, producing numerous 

Perhaps the plants would do well in different soil in a drier climate.  
However, I plant them in a mixture of scoria (lava rock), pumice, coarse sand, and 
just a bit of humus.  

I'm trying some other grass aloes, but so far A. cooperi has been the most 
vigorous and the fastest growing.  Perhaps this next season will see flowers on 
other species.  


Conroe Joe
Temperatures predicted near 32 F tonight (Zero C).  

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