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I know, I know. It’s been YEARS (seriously, YEARS!!!) since I’ve written a post. A lot has happened since I last wrote, including our move into our new house in the mid-town Tucson neighborhood of Miramonte. We live in a beautiful (albeit small) 1950s adobe brick rancher, and have been making small improvements to the house and landscaping since moving in – including replacing all the outdoor plumbing, replacing all the windows, building a “greywater” drainage system for our laundry machine, installing a full drip irrigation system, and adding rock-mulch to the entire front and side yards. These have not been small tasks.

One of my largest and most fun/interesting tasks (which has been consuming my time on and off since moving in) has been a slow renovation of our landscaping. When we first moved in, the front yard had some good (yet young) plants, but in general was just pretty dusty and felt a bit barren. The back yard had (still has) a beautiful green lawn and lots of fairly water-wise flowering plants – very manicured, but not particularly interesting.

Although we haven’t made a lot of changes to the backyard, I have started a patio container garden full of succulents – mainly cactus plants. It’s actually become a bit of an obsession, trying to find the most interesting and strange desert-dwelling plants I can find. I go to all the local plant sales (one is even called the “Weird Plant Sale” at the Tucson Botanical Garden), and I have a few favorite nurseries and plant stores around town that I like to check out every couple of months. As my collection grows (and some of my finds have gone into the ground as well), I figure it’s time that I started to document my growing collection (in part so that I can keep track of the names of all my plants!).

So, I’m going to start with one of the first container plants that I bought for my little patio garden – An Aloe Mitriformis Variegata. I found it one day while I was browsing the selection at Mesquite Valley Growers, which is a fabulous place that looks like this (photo courtesy of their Facebook page):

Mesquite Valley Growers

I mean really, who wouldn’t want to buy plants here?

Anyway, this was about 2 years ago and while I was wandering around the cactus and succulent section I saw an older man putting the pot on display. It was the only one of its kind and it was overgrown in its container with offshoots (baby plants that grow from the base of the main plant). I looked at it for a few minutes and realized I’d never seen an aloe that looked like it before. Thus, my obsession with weird plants began.

The Aloe Mitriformis Variegate is a beautiful plant with variations of green and yellow striations running the length of each leaf:


In the photo below, you can see some of the offshoots – each one of these can be pulled off and will become an adult plant that will then produce it’s own offshoots. In the two years I’ve had this plant, it has since multiplied and it now 4 separate plants – each of which is now mounding with new offshoots!


Here is the 3rd plant I’ve potted from the original purchase – – – pretty soon I’ll have to start selling these plants on Craig’s list or something (or plant a few in the front yard so they can spread to their heart’s content)…


I’m actually super lucky this summer because one of the plants (#2) is actually blooming. It has two stalks full of beautiful salmon-colored flowers:


A better picture of this flowering aloe is included at the top of the post. So yes, this was the plant that started my collection. It was probably a good choice – aloes are easy to keep alive, don’t require much water, and most varieties don’t mind sitting in the scorching AZ sun – win for me!