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Frequently Asked Questions

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When do aloes flower?

Aloe cultivars (like the Sunbird Aloes range) all have different flowering times, but the majority of larger cultivars flower in winter. Aloes will always flower in the same season relative to their location. An aloe that flowers in the South African midwinter (July) will flower around December in Europe or the USA. This is why the website refers to seasons rather than months when indicating the flowering time.

A: Yes, the following terms are used interchangeably on these pages as having roughly the same meaning:

1. Crossing/cross pollinating/hybridisation,

2. Stem/trunk,

3. Hybrids/aloe hybrids/varieties/cultivars

4. Rosette/crown/head

A: The size classification in this website indicates the fully grown size of the variety. Consequently a "small" cultivar is bought very close to its fully grown size, "large" cultivars bought in a nursery bag will need a few years to become fully grown.

A: Yes, when the shaded side of a plant is exposed to full sun after shade or when the amount of direct sunlight is increased dramatically. It leaves a permanently bleached mark on the affected leaves but should not kill the plant unless it is very small.

A: When aloe roots dry out totally or too quickly, they die. Watering can then cause this covered plant material to rot, and this can spread to the plant. If pots can not be watered for a while, move them to a place where they will take a long time to dry out.

A: Unlike most other plants, only insignificant amounts of even systemic poisons are absorbed through aloe leaves. This makes pollen and nectar of aloe flowers safe for avifauna consumption, provided care is taken not to get sprays or powder directly onto aloe flowers.

A: This normally happen during wet weather when the soil can no longer provide grip for the roots. When a large plant starts leaning over, wet the soil around the plant thoroughly, push it back straight and support it by wedging a flat stake of wooden plank under the rosette.

A: Just barely cover the roots with soil when planting. Support the plants with stakes until it can stand on its own.

A: The planting rule is simple: compost in the soil, manure and fertiliser on top.

A: Yes. In colder areas it would be wise to refrain from watering before or during a cold spell

A: Pictures of the whole plant with flower (showing dimensions), and close-up of leaves and flowers are essential. Without accurate pollination records or location (if in the wild) naming an unknown hybrid is always a guess. The more information available the better informed the guess.

A: The slope of the rockery aids drainage and allows cold to move away from the plants. Rocks retain heat in winter and assist with moisture retention in summer.

A: Of course. Just follow a few simple guidelines. 1. Be aware of the plants’ rate of growth and ultimate size as it is bad for aloes to be overgrown or overshadowed. 2. Try to combine plants that require the same amount of water at the same time of year.

A: Aloe flower colours can be confusing because often people perceive colours differently. To describe the colour of an aloe’s flower you need a raceme with about 40% of the flowers open. You then stand back and describe the colours you see – from the tip to the lower part of the raceme. This is necessary because many hybrid flowers change colour when they open.

The branches of an inflorescence consist of a peduncle to which the individual flowers of the aloe is attached. The area where the individual flowers are found is called the raceme.

A: It is the stout growth that emanates from between the aloe leaves and ultimately bears the individual flowers. An aloe can have single or multiple inflorescences, and they can be branched or un-branched.