It’s the fan shape that makes Aloe plicatilis such a fascinating plant to grow in the garden or in a pot. Because it’s so shapely it has become a favourite of gardeners and designers who love the bold, sculpted look of its foliage, but it’s also a great flowering plant. In early spring mature plants produce slender stemmed flowers which are a rich, glowing orange colour, brightening up the cool days and sometimes attracting native nectar eating birds too such as waxeyes, bellbirds and even tui.
This is definitely a sun loving plant and it enjoys good drainage and light soils. It’s very happy in sandy beach gardens but will grow just about anywhere that the soil drains well and there’s shelter from hard frosts. It’s one of those plants too that get better year after year.
Aloe plicatilis doesn’t grow too tall or wide so there’s no fear of it becoming too large in beach gardens and it’s one of the friendliest aloes, with no sharp bits at all and rounded, thick leaf ends. So there’s no danger of unwanted skin piercing, even when planting it beside a path or doorway!
In a container all the accompaniment you need for Aloe plicatilis is some attractive stones, or shells if you have a garden near the sea and want to emphasise the maritime look.
If you want to include other plants in the container, aim for those that have a similar drought tolerance. A dwarf grass such as the stunning, very low growing, shiny black leafed Ophiopogon ‘Black Dragon’ is a good one to use, as are low growing succulents such as ground hugging Sedum ‘Acapulco Gold’.
Another container gardening idea which looks most effective is to have a group of aloes and other succulents on a sunny deck or steps. Their foliage colours are just as interesting as flowers and instead of being fleeting are there to enjoy all year round.
In the garden this Aloe looks striking with ornamental grasses, such as the bronze native tussock Carex testacea, pale green Carex ‘Frosted Curls’ or low growing, coppery coloured Uncinia ‘Rubra’. It’s also a stunner with compact succulents, such as the blue and grey echeverias, or the appropriately named Echeveria ‘Chocolate’ and equally dramatic Aloe ’Black Gem’.
For flowering contrast, combine Aloe plicatilis with plants of distinctive charm such as the lower growing, hybrid kangaroo paws (Anigozanthos), especially the dramatic pale yellow-green and black ‘Bush Eclipse’. It also looks appealing with the new, clump forming gazania varieties ‘Montezuma’ and ‘Sunset Jane’ and with low growing daisy bushes such as Felicia ‘Blue Jay’, which has sky blue flowers with a yellow centre for month after month.
Obviously there are many ways to enjoy this very special Aloe.