"Cold" (And Dry) Effects

 Above:  Graptoveria 'Fred Ives' in full sun and dry conditions goes tangerine.  Below:  in half-shade with regular water, 'Fred' is blue, green, and lavender.
 We've gotten something this fall that didn't happen last year:  a dozen or more relatively cold nights.  Last night the low was a frigid 50F (10 C).  Last year as I remember (not necessarily correctly), night time lows persisted in the low 60s nearly all winter and then through spring.  I wore shorts and no jacket almost all winter!  This fall, at least we're getting nightly relief from heat.

As a result of relative cold, touches of pink and orange have appeared in the Aloe foliage, aided unfortunately by dry, dry weather.  We did get about 0.01" of rain over Thursday and Friday, but El Nino, we're waiting! 
Aloe striata
 Aloe peglarae, already pink and curled in on itself to reduce sun exposure, has become pinker.
 Ditto for Aloe microstigma.
 A seedling's leaf tips reddened.
 Ferox and marlothii were not pink at all this summer, so it was cold that did this:

Ooh!  There's the flower stem emerging.  Looks dry, though.
This young A. ferox has bronzed and reddened. 
 As did A. reitzii and an A. greatheadii offset.
 Aloe vanbalenii made the most dramatic change from pure green.
 A variegated A. noblis added some copper to its green and yellow stripes. The "taco fold" to the leaves is due to lack of water. 
 Part of the original variegated plant produced all-green offsets--which in turn produced variegated offsets of their own.   Cold added bronze edging. 
Aloe suprafoliata pinked up beautifully.
 I need to move this when it finishes flowering.  Maireana sedifolia will engulf it by next spring.  A couple of years ago I regretfully cut the Maireana to the ground, thinking that would kill it, but it only seemed to rejuvenate it.

Snuggling up to a different Maireana sedifolia, Aloe pseudorubroviolacea finally has some rubroviola.
Aloe thraskii hasn't blushed up with color, but it does have three flower stems.  This year's display may be quite impressive.
 Other succulents also change color.  Crassula pubescens ssp. radicans reds up in a bit of winter chill, though these poor bits are red from being too too too dry.   Every once in a while I climb the slope to splash some water on them, but not often enough.  Nice plant, wrong place.
 With morning sun and water, it is much more green, chill or no chill.  These were all dried up bits taken from the desperate clump-remnant above--regular water enabled them to grow roots and--grow happy.  
A few deciduous tree leaves have colored--a Ginko down the road, the neighbor's Lagerstroemias...
 ...but the most reliable colors here are still the flowers of unthirsty plants.  We got a postcard from the water company last Saturday;  our district only saved 30% in October, so the water company said we must cut back to only one irrigation per week now, so that the water company is not fined by the state.  Oh, please please rain more than 0.01" (1/3rd of a millimeter) spread over two days!  It's so so so dry!


  1. All of your Aloes are so lovely! My biggest one (in a pot) is flowering, but many of the leaf tips are dried up. Do you know what causes that? Do I not water it enough?

    1. If it is blooming it is fairly happy. I remember a blooming Aloe from your blog last year--glauca(?) it looked great. Which Aloe is it, and what kind of mix do you have it planted in? Do the newest leaves get dry-tipped rather quickly, or is it just the older ones? When you repot have a good long meditation on the root system--were the fat yellow/white roots all at the bottom of the pot, with dried out ones above, or all through the pot? If all at the bottom, and the youngest leaves get dry tipped rather quickly, that would indicate increasing the water a bit, I think, in moderate weather--not when it is coldest or hottest.

  2. Dry and cold is beautiful in your garden. We're at 9.54" of rain for December, it's beyond saturated out there. I have no idea how the agaves and other dry-lovers are going to cope with this, it's beyond anything I've experienced. I'm praying El Nino gets with it and deviates southward, for both of our gardens.

    1. Wow. That more than we got for last year. And the year before, and the one before that. The RRR (ridiculously resistant ridge) seems to be breaking down; we have a 40% chance of scattered showers next weekend; this past storm was only 20% chance, so maybe we'll both get relief. Hope your beautiful Agaves will be okay.

  3. LOVE these pictures. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Oh no! I hope we don't get a postcard like that - I know my district was shy of its 36% target earlier this year but I haven't seen an update (and I'm almost afraid to go out and search). I've kept well within our household water budget but a mandatory cut to once a week usage could be onerous without rain. We got 0.18 inches so far this evening on top of 0.25 inches last Monday/Tuesday. I hope you get some more too!

    1. Hooray for you, nearly 0.5" rain--that's great! We got about 0.2" here, much appreciated, and I think enough to get the garden through this week without irrigating at all. I got a couple barrels full to distribute to the driest places. Another rain chance next Sunday is predicted. Wheeeee!

  5. I also noticed that my aloes have started to color up. It's definitely the cold nights. Unlike you, we've been down to freezing three or four times already. Keeping my fingers crossed temps won't drop much further, otherwise the emerging aloe flowers might be toast.

    We had about 1/3 of an inch of rain yesterday. Very welcome, especially since it fell quickly and the system moved on. Blue skies today. I don't want my succulents to sit in water.

    1. Freezing!!! yikes! Our low so far is 45F, cold enough. Happy that you got some rain--the Sierras got some more snow, I read (yay!).

      Good point about quick moving storms: the Aloes especially need to dry out their foliage. It is brightly sunny here again also. A.thraskii is supposed to be extremely vulnerable to rot in the foliage during multiple days of rain, so I have a big sheet of plastic ready to cover it if need be.

  6. Can't wait to see that Aloe thraskii in full bloom! I imagine the hummingbirds feel the same way...

    1. In the meantime, the hummers have the Russelia, which are becoming as visited as the feeder. Yes, I spoil them. :)


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