Grass Aloes are "sort of" bulbs

J.E. Shields
Sat, 27 Nov 2004 07:07:52 PST
Looking further into "Guide to the Aloes of South Africa" I note that there 
are a few "bulbous" Aloe.  A. kniphofioides is one such, with red flowers; 
hardy to ca. -4°C/+25°F; it is one of the Grass Aloes.  The others are A. 
modesta, a Grass Aloe with greenish-yellow flowers; and A. inconspicua, a 
Grass Aloe with green flowers.  A. modesta can tolerate temperatures that 
dip below freezing, but A. inconspicua cannot.

Thus demonstrating that Aloe are not off-topic for a bulb list to discuss!

If you want a copy of this book, try Rod & Rachel Sanders' Silverhill Seeds 
& Books or the bookshop at Kirstenbosch National Botanic Garden in Cape 
Town.  Both do mail-order sales and accept credit cards.  More details in

Jim Shields

At 07:17 PM 11/26/2004 -0500, you wrote:
>Some aloes are deciduous in the wild, growing in summer rainfall areas and
>dying back in winter.  They are typically hardy (as aloes go) for 2 
>reasons:  1)
>the top dies back and the root behaves like a bulb, and 2) they typically
>come from higher elevations.
>I am growing several species of these "grass" aloes and have found the, so
>far, to be easy and durable.  They are not "bulbs," but because they die 
>back to
>a perennial rootstock; because they leaf out in warm weather and have such
>wonderful flowers, I think of them as bulb-type garden plants.
>I purchased seed from Silverhill seed about 2 years ago of A. cooperi, A.
>ecklonis, and A. myriacantha (apparently these are the more easily found
>species).  All of them should be hardy down to 15 F, and some are reported 
>hardy in to
>zone 7.
>I'm not sure what is a grass aloe and what is a bulb aloe, but they are
>similar; it is my understanding that both are deciduous-but I'm not 
>sure.  I think
>that bulb aloes actually make a more pronounced storage organ.  The leaves of
>grass aloes are succulent.  Here, near Houston, TX, the 3 species from
>Silverhill germinated easily indoors under lights (room temperature), and 
>easily.  They really enjoyed our hot Texas summer, and the rain-never 
>seeming to get
>too much water or sun.  They responded well to fertilizer and really seemed
>to enjoy it when I moved them from seedling pots/media into a 90% mineral mix
>(30% lava rock, 30% perlite, 30% coarse sand, 10% humus).  They are about 
>months old now and I've potted them up several times.  I plan to keep to or 3
>of each type and find homes for the extras.
>Last year I protected them from rain during winter; they never got bone dry
>due to splash and spray but the leaves mostly died down.  This year I will 
>them stay out in the garden, in 1- or 2-gallon containers over the winter.
>Perhaps if we have mild frosts again they will remain evergreen or perhaps 
>will die down.
>They are such strong growers that I'm hopeful some will bloom next summer.
>If nothing else I want to try their pollen on the other aloes that tolerate
>Houston (e.g., maculata, arborescens, striatula).
>LINK:  Aloe cooperi page at
>LINK:  Aloe striatula page at Plant Delights Nursery
>Oh yeah, I sure would like to find seed of more species of grass (or bulb)
>aloes; if you have some to sell or trade please contact me.
>Conroe Joe
>71 F high today in Conroe, TX:  55 F predicted for overnight low
>humidity:  85% at 6:00 p.m.
>pbs mailing list

Jim Shields             USDA Zone 5             Shields Gardens, Ltd.
P.O. Box 92              WWW:
Westfield, Indiana 46074, USA
Tel. ++1-317-867-3344     or      toll-free 1-866-449-3344 in USA

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