One of the most iconic South African aloes, Aloe Marlothii, has started blooming and is providing bright splashes of colour in many areas. Indigenous to South Africa, this aloe is used extensively in landscaping as it is easy to grow and requires very little maintenance while offering a majestic presence in the garden.
The Mountain Aloe is a single-stemmed, upright aloe with a height of 2 – 3m and a single wide and imposing rosette. The leaves are grey green in colour with reddish brown spines along the margins and randomly on other parts of the leaf. The persistent older leaves form a skirt around the trunk which protects the plant from grazing animals and the heat. In addition, the thorns on the leaves and the very rough, hard, dried leaves prevent browsing animals from stunting the Aloe’s growth.
Flowering takes place from May to September and the colour is typically bright orange red, but can vary from yellow to red. The horizontally branched spikes of tubular flowers attract many species of birds and butterflies.
Aloe marlothii is a succulent and is therefore well suited to withstand periods of drought as reserves or water are stored in the leaves and stem. This is an extremely hardy plant that can tolerate heat, cold and drought conditions. This Aloe adapts to many climatic conditions and will grow easily and with very little care in most South African gardens. In nature Mountain aloes are found mainly in bushveld areas, especially along mountainous areas and rocky terrains, but are distributed through most of the provinces of South Africa.
Aside from its value as a water wise, rockery plant, the Mountain aloe is also used as ‘living pillars’ along driveways of fences.