Haworthias, Aloes and More

I’ve been a collector all my life. Rocks from West Texas, daylilies, model cars, baseball cards, daylilies, cacti and succulents, more daylilies, rocks from my time at Colorado State, clocks, china, lots more daylilies (I bought 5,000 plants one time), tons of Santas (I make these myself), woods from which I make pens to sell for Serenity High, and, most recently, haworthias and aloes.

Basket of Haworthias.

My haworthia fetish goes back 30 years. I’ve always been enchanted by this great group of small plants that asks little and offers much. Some types clump and multiply, and those clusters can get 12 or 14 inches across, but a really big single haworthia plant isn’t any larger than 2 to 5 inches in diameter. And, as you can see in the sampling in my round-basket collection, they’re about as diverse as the humans who grow them. Great little jewels of the greenhouse. I have about 300 types now.

Basket of Aloes.

Concurrent with the haworthias, I’ve had an interest in aloes. Everyone knows Aloe vera, of course. It’s the famous "medicine" plant whose sap instantly takes away the hurt of fresh skin burns. That sap turns up in half the products you see on cosmetic shelves.

However, there’s a real world beyond plain Aloe vera. There are hundreds and hundreds of other species and hybrids of aloes. Some mature at 5 or 6 inches, and others make 30-foot trees. Most are stunning container accents, and most produce very showy floral spikes once or twice during the year. They, too, are very diverse. (See the sampling in my square-basket photo.)

You’ll find scores of sources for these and other plants online. Do a web search for either genus, then type in the word "plant" behind it. That will get you past all the gels and creams and straight to the sources of these wonderful tropical performers. (OK, some aloes will tolerate light freezes, but most of us don’t want to take those chances.)

I’m now up to probably 150 types of aloes, and I just found a source that lists that many more. Oh, my.

Next, I think I’ll start collecting greenhouses. I think I’m going to need them.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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