Aloe speciosa – Tilt-Headed Aloe
Tall spikes of bright red flower buds in spring.
This one of the tallest Aloes, reaching up to 3M. The older leaves eventually dry and droop around the stem, bearing a head of twisted green leaves some 2.5M across. The entire leaf rosette tilts slightly towards the sun. The edges of each leaf are pink and lined with reddish teeth.
A. speciose is native to the Cape Province in South Africa. It tends to grow in thickets in dry river valleys and mountain slopes. In South Africa the nectar attracts insects and Sunbirds. In New Zealand, Tui’s will feed on the nectar.
Soil / Aspect:
A. striata will tolerate a range of soil pH, but the soil does need well drained. It prefers full sun. It is hardy down to -5oC though not for prolonged periods, provided the soil is not wet.
The flower spikes make interesting antler-like structures that can be decorated at Christmas time in lieu of a small Christmas tree. To do this, let the flower stalk dry on the plant and much later it can be pulled cleanly away with a bit of wiggling and tugging.
This is about as low maintenance as a plant gets. You can either wait until the flower stalk has withered over a few months and can be pulled away by hand; or, if you find the dry stalk unsightly it can be pruned after flowering.