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‘Fire-safe Landscaping’

‘Fire-safe Landscaping’, to quote the Western Cape Disaster Management, is the new buzzword, for creating defensible space between your home and flammable vegetation. Should a fire reach your property within 3 -10 m of your house, due to prevailing winds or the height of the flames? You could inevitably, lose your property. One of the benefits of aloes, planted in your garden, and acts as a barrier. All aloes hold moisture in their fleshy leaves, enabling them to resist the flames and slow down the spreading of fires, due to their fire-resistant qualities. As they do not contain any resin or produce any oils, as some trees and other plants do.

Your first line of defense against a fire is your boundary. Planting rambling/multi-stemmed aloes such as ‘Lady Pink’, ‘Topaz’ or ‘Vinkel’, as they have the dense compact growth habit, slowing down the fire, or can stop spreading grass fires.

  • Plant your chosen aloes on mass, a minimum of 0.5 m wide, along your boundary, to create a barrier slowing down the fire.

  • Secondly, by planting different aloe beds between your boundary and your house. You are creating an effective breakup of your lawn. Slowing down the spreading of the fire.

  • Thirdly, planting aloes within 1.5 -3 m around your house, act as a second barrier, slowing down any fire that has jumped. Here you can create a berm, layering the different aloes in accordance you’re your own personal style and choice. Adding stones/rocks, into your berm and landscape design. Instead of using bark mulch or dried leaves, as these are combustible, and will only fuel the fire. Using a selection of different sizes aloes, as if you would be layering a cake.

PHOTO Courtesy of Aloe-Aloe – aloes acting as a fire barrier.

The Sunbird Aloes range offers different stemless aloes, of a similar growth form. And can be used for dense planting of a firebreak. The leaf rosettes are borne close to the ground so that the stems are short or absent. Forming dense clusters in mature specimens, that are very distinctive and showy. The aloes below, when planted on mass, as a firebreak, on a berm, or as an individual bed. Break up the flammable area of your lawn and slow the fire down.

Aloe ‘Apricot’

Pinkish-orange-colored flowers are carried on upright racemes and branched inflorescences, sometimes as many as 7 during the flower season, which centers on the colder months.

The plant is renowned for its long flower period and will have its first flower as a very young plant. It will reach its full flowering potential about 5 years after the first flower, by which time it can already have grown a short stem.

(‘Apricot’, planted on the left of this firebreak)

Aloe ‘Bush Baby Yellow’

This plant produces a long-lasting supply of beautiful yellow flowers.

The plant itself is a striking green with well-structured rosettes. It will also bush (produce multiple rosettes). A mature plant is capable of flowering for 6 months without a break in flower production.

This characteristic places it in the “Superior Hybrid” category, and makes it a sought-after landscaping subject, for group or border plantings.

Aloe ‘Flame’

The flower column that rises from this long-leaved, medium to large cultivar can be astonishing. In my rockery, the first flaming inflorescence of 3 long-flowered, massive, red-to-pastel-colored racemes reached its last flowers in late autumn.

From the center of the rosette, the next 9 inflorescences were pushing hard to open their flowers in early winter. This elevated “Flame” to the elite club of super hybrids capable of producing 10 inflorescences from one rosette in a season. Although it is classified as red-to-white, the flower colour is not that straightforward. The open flower never turns pure white, settling on a very pale, pastel whitish orange. The individual flower is the longest of all the cultivars.

Aloe ‘Koljander’

An unusual, medium-sized hybrid of a very rare yellow flowered Aloe suprafoliata. It is stemless and has beautiful grey leaves and plenty of tall flowers, not unlike its rare parent. Aloe ‘Koljander’ flowers from autumn to late winter.

It occasionally produces stem shoots and is well suited to either container or open rockery planting.

Although the plant is classed as ‘medium’, it can be quite robust under suitable growing conditions, with very tall and long-lasting inflorescences.

Aloe ‘Moonglow’

Wonderfully compact, pale-yellow flowers appear on this medium-sized, slow-stemming aloe from an early age in the mid-winter.

A mature plant has one of the best flower-to-plant ratios of all hybrids in the collection. It can deliver the same superior flower display year after year.

Aloe ‘Neon Orange’

Named byJason Sampson, who was smitten when he first saw a plant in full flower.

Neon Orange is a popular, small, tough plant for pots, rockery, or retaining walls. During the months of August and September, conspicuous, glowing orange flowers.

If allowed to cluster and given enough space it will quickly grow the secondary rosettes to flowering size, creating a better flower display, and extending the flowering period. Flowers after the worst cold of winter.

Aloe ‘Octopus’

The first large winter flowering aloe hybrid with deep yellow flowers to be released. It has been given the name “Octopus”, and one look at the tentacle-like leaves of this plant will immediately confirm its likeness to its marine namesake.

“Octopus” has a spreading growth style, which means that it will eventually bush like Aloe arborescens.

Apart from the striking yellow racemes borne on widely outstretched inflorescences, its other outstanding feature is the length of the individual flower – it is the hybrid with the longest recorded individual flower of all the cultivars in the collection.

Aloe ‘Saturn’

The flower buds of this amazing hybrid aloe are initially brick red but change to yellow as the flowers open, displaying a showy bi-colour combination in very late winter and spring.

This very large, slow-stemming aloe has interesting, thick, dark green leaves with very decorative large spines on the edges.

Because of its size “Saturn” is normally not used as a pot plant. It is suitable for landscape use and in garden rockeries.

Aloe ‘Sun King’

Late winter and spring are the flowering time of this rewarding aloe cultivar. The plant is virtually covered by a canopy of yellow flowers carried on multiple inflorescences.

It stretches the nectar season that lures sunbirds and bees to well into spring when other flowers can take over this role.

‘Sun King’ will have a division of the rosette – a desirable state that will enhance the plant’s flower show. It will soon demand more space because of the division and re-division of the rosette. Open rockery planting, therefore, is the obvious choice for this aloe cultivar.

Aloe ‘Super Red’

A flower season lasting from late summer to winter and masses of red flowers are the outstanding characteristics of this cultivar.

The grey-green plant starts growing a stem from an early stage and can produce its first flower at a very young age. The rosette divides or splits when the plant is closer to maturity, and this provides an even greater flower display.

Aloe ‘Vinkel’

A profusion of deep pink flowers appears on this medium-sized aloe hybrid from late summer to winter. The plant can produce up to 7, branched inflorescences per season. The individual flowers are long and tubular and are borne on upright racemes.

It is a superior plant in every respect – fast-growing, with lots of flowers and beautiful blue-grey leaves – a stunning sight in full flower. It is a wonderful addition to gardens that are prone to frost because the flowers normally start before the onset of the first cold.

Aloe ‘Vroegjaar Geel’

The first inflorescences of this extremely long-flowering aloe cultivar can open as early as January (midsummer in SA) and some of the plants will not be without flowers until the end of winter. During the course of the flower season, it is not unusual for “Vroegjaar Geel” to produce up to 9, branched inflorescences. Out-of-season flowers are common in younger plants.

This cultivar’s inflorescences do not always follow a consecutive pattern. It can also surprise the grower with a massive display of simultaneous inflorescences in winter, as pictured in the photo. The flower buds are yellow, and the open flowers tend to be a shade or two paler.


Leo Thamm

Sunbird Aloes


Western Cape Disaster Management

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