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Grow the Best - Winter flowering Aloes

Winter is Aloe flowering seasonWe love winter aloes because this is when they flower in striking tones of yellow through orange to red and the nectar from the aloe flowers attract many of the nectar loving birds. This year the aloes are looking even more spectacular for some reason… maybe it’s just that the selection is getting bigger but we love them and we think so should you.

Most Aloes are suited to hot dry positions but will grow in any garden where they get a lot of sun and are planted in well drained soil. We love aloes because they flower from late autumn in striking tones of yellow through orange to red. The nectar from the aloe flowers attracts many of the nectar loving birds at a time when many of their other food sources are limited.

Aloes flower even better as they matureGrow the best Aloes in containers or open garden beds, they are that adaptable. In the garden plant them with a layer of river sand at the bottom of the hole to aid drainage. In a container always use potting soils mixed with river sand or use a readymade succulent mix.

Many Aloes are indigenous to South Africa and are featured in many modern landscapes especially over the past few years as Water Wise gardening has been popularised. Aloes also have very architectural lines and as such suit the contemporary designs of homes currently being built. The leaves are also interesting and vary from green to grey and most have small spines on them which make them look prehistoric and yet very contemporary at the same time.

A new hybrid Krans AloeAs with all succulents, it's essential that aloe is never allowed to sit in stagnant water and the plant should be carefully monitored to watch for signs of overwatering. With little to no maintenance you can enjoy many years of flowers that become better every year as the plant matures.

There are many varieties to suit any garden style. Every year there are more and more hybrids being launched as they have become so popular and even collectable. The dwarf varieties flower on mass and are quite striking in the garden.  They will clump naturally but look stunning if planted in groups of three or more and complimented with pebbles or low grasses such as Mondo Grass.

What can go wrong?

Aloe Hedgehog is a dwarf clumping varietyBe on the lookout for Scale which is the most common problem locally. This shows as a white speckle which covers the underside of the leaves. Spray with a contact insecticide such as Oleum or Garden Ripcord and two or three applications may be needed to clear it altogether.

In recent years we have seen more and more Kanker on aloes. This is where one sees the flowers or leaves almost mangled they are that malformed. This is caused by a mite insect which is almost impossible to see so most people miss it until the damage is dome. Use a systemic insecticide such as Efekto Plant Protector as a drench at flowering time as well as in midsummer to keep it under control. Destroy the leaves and flowers that are ruined to limit the infection and stop it from spreading.