The Aloe Vera flower and its Pollination

I had been wanting to write this article about aloe flowers and their pollination for a long time since there are many people who still ask me if aloe vera or aloe flourishes. You also wonder… does Aloe Vera give flowers? Do you doubt if the Aloe Vera blooms? Did you know that Aloe flowers are pollinated through cross pollination? I’m sure some of those questions were going through your head.

In this article I am going to solve all those doubts and introduce new concepts that you probably did not know, such as the fact that aloe flowers are hermaphrodites, but at the same time they present dicogamy … Don’t worry that if you keep reading you will understand everything.

Do Aloes bloom?

Yes, aloes bloom just as the vast majority of succulents do. I understand that many people ask this question and it is that there are few blogs or YouTube channels that bother to explain and delve into the issue of flowering.

In my opinion, the fact that there is not much information on the subject of aloe blooming is significant as there are many «false experts» out there. If you have a hand with succulents, they will not only bloom for you, but they will not stop doing it.

What to do to make an Aloe bloom?

Once it is clear that aloes bloom, the following questions are unavoidable: Why aren’t my aloes blooming? What am I doing wrong to not see flowers in my sabilas?

As I said in the article about Aloe Vera suckers , for an Aloe Vera to flourish, it needs to be in ideal conditions. That is, for our plants to give us beautiful flowers they must be well cared for and have all the necessary light, temperature, water, and food requirements.

While any succulent, and aloes in particular, tend to bloom more easily outdoors, we can create ideal situations indoors as well.

Aloes bloom in spring and summer

If there is a particularly prone time for an aloe to bloom, it is spring and summer. This is due to the fact that prior to these seasons there was a colder time with less light (winter), where the plant was in more precarious conditions and therefore at rest.

Once the days are longer and the daylight stimulates our aloe plants together with the higher temperatures, an explosion of life occurs inside the aloes and they will begin to bear suckers and flowers.

However, yours do not bloom despite being spring or summer. At this time is where you must understand if the plants are really in good condition, I mean if the waterings you give them are correct ; neither excess water, nor lack, nor too frequent watering. I also mean if the substrate drains well , if it has the correct aeration or if it has enough food.

Are they too hot or cold? The temperatures in spring and summer are usually higher and the variations smaller. Is your plant protected from sudden changes or very high temperatures? Is your plant too exposed to the sun? Remember this key phrase in the care of succulents: Light yes, Sun no.

At what age do aloes begin to bloom?

Do not despair yet that, if none of the above you did wrong, the reason for age still remains. Yes, Aloes or Sabilas have their reproductive organs inside flowers and, like humans, they do not develop them until a certain time. That is to say, an aloe may be very well cared for and be the happiest plant in the world, but not give offspring or flowers because it is too young.

If your plant is less than 3 years old, do not expect flowers yet, it may give you offspring depending on the variety, but it is very rare that it still blooms. I think you’re calmer now.

What are Aloe Vera or Aloe Vera flowers like?

Beautiful! So are the flowers of any variety of Aloe. As I know you expected something more than this phrase, I am going to go into more depth to describe the inflorescence of aloes and specifically that of Aloe Vera or Aloe Barbadensis Miller.

The flowers of the Aloe plant rise from a stem above the attractive rosettes. The inflorescences have yellow and orange tubular flowers that hang in a cluster on a flower stalk or rigid scape.

If your aloe is a pure Aloe Barbaensis Miller, the flowers will be yellow.

A curiosity about why these flowers have such beautiful and striking colors is related to their pollination, which as a general rule is a cross-pollination, in which small birds such as hummingbirds and some butterflies will be in charge of carrying the pollen of a flower to another on a different plant.

Are there male Aloes and female Aloes?

I asked myself this question many times. Is my Aloe Vera male or female? No one solved my doubt and some even confused me even more. The leaf of Aloe Vera or Aloe Vera is hermaphrodite . This means that it is neither male nor female or that it is male and female at the same time, as you prefer to see it.

Aloes flowers have both reproductive organs; male and female. So with just one plant I can get seeds, right? No! It turns out that despite being hermaphrodite, it has a self-incompatibility that requires the intervention of a second plant to pollinate it. This is what is known as dicogamy and that is nothing other than the male and female reproductive organs appear at different times.

The poor plants, even if they wanted to, could not self-fertilize, since when they begin to release pollen from the anthers at the ends of the stamens ( their male state ), the pistil and stigma ( their female part ) are not yet developed to collect that pollen.

Something that I have observed in my plants is that the bells are arranged facing downward during the male period, that is, that the pollen falls vertically towards the ground. After this male period, as the stigma develops, the flower begins to look up like the one that waits for the rain to fall on its face to cool off, only in this case the pollen of another plant is expected. I have to add that the stigma secretes a sticky liquid that traps pollen from another plant and incorporates it to produce seeds.

The transition period between male and female status barely lasts 24 hours. Once the plant begins shedding pollen, it takes 24 hours to fully develop the stigma.

How to cross aloes to obtain hybrids

Fortunately, the flowering of aloes lasts about a full month from when the first flower is fully mature and dies until the last and highest of the flower cluster does. This is an advantage when making hybridizations, since it is not necessary for two plants to flower on the same day, but we have a margin of time to cross two plants and obtain hybrids.

To cross two flowering Aloe plants, we need a small, clean and sterilized brush , we can do this by dipping it in boiling water for a few seconds.

Once we have our tool to collect pollen (the brush), we will look for flowers of one of the plants in «male state» with a large amount of pollen in sight to rub our brush on the anthers. With the brush impregnated in pollen, we will look in the other plant for a flower in its «feminine state» , that is, with the prominent stigma and secreting the sticky substance that I told you about earlier. On the stigma we rub the brush to deposit the pollen collected from the other flower.

Next… What? Nothing else! Did you expect a more complicated process? It’s that simple to fertilize or pollinate the Aloe Vera or Aloe Vera flower.

You probably still have some questions, so I leave you this video where I explain everything in audio visual format.

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