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Topic : Botanical : Nectar

Article 31 bullet 03 June 2007

Krantz Aloe Aloe arborescens or Hedging Aloe, Kransaalwyn (Afrikaans), iNhlaba-encane (Zulu)

by Geoff Nichols

Winter is with us and most of our plants are in a dormant state no growth being made just waiting for the Spring to come. One plant that does do something in the winter is our Krantz Aloe with its bright show of pink-orange flowers.

Sunbirds and bees are attracted to the Krantz Aloes

Sunbirds and bees are attracted to the Krantz Aloes

The most obvious specimens of this species to be seen around are the plants that have been planted in the median between the freeway on the road to Pietermaritzburg just as you get to the top of the hill before you drop down into the Ashburton Valley opposite Exit 65 at the Lion Park turn off. A Roads Department  engineer or gardener must have had a rush of blood to the head because there are about three beds of these aloes that produce at least two phone calls a year to me asking for the name of these great plants. You cannot get a better endorsement for a plant if it can survive the conditions on a freeway with high speed metal flashing past you or into you. Plus the risk of fire, which happens each year when the firebreaks are put in, and the plants with their succulent leaves are well suited to absorbing this heat without lasting damage to the plants.

the pink form of Krantz Aloe

the pink form of Krantz Aloe

All you need is to plant this species in a fairly sunny spot as always it will flower better in a sun drenched spot. However they will survive well in semi-shade as the common name implies cliff or krantz aloe. Some of these cliffs are south facing and not very sunny. They will survive water stress, good for these water conservation times that we live in.

There are a number of colour forms to the flowers ranging from dark pink through to dark orange with even a pale yellow form.

There are a number of colour forms to the flowers ranging from dark pink through to dark orange with even a pale yellow form.

In some rural areas especially in the Transkei this species is used as a hedge plant to keep cattle and other stock in or out depending on where you grow the plants. The best way to propagate this plant is from cuttings so find yourself a hedge and remove a few pieces. Simply put them into the soil and in a few months your plant will be established.

A large stand of the most common colour form with red flowers.

A large stand of the most common colour form with red flowers.

Sunbirds and other nectar loving birds including bees cannot resist the flowers so plant them where you can enjoy watching the antics of these birds.

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