The untamed aloe plant

The untamed aloe plant

The untamed aloe plant

Aloes make for a wilder looking garden if that is your choice.

Over 450 species of aloe have been described with diverse forms and sizes.   The genus includes small grass-like herbs and stemless succulent rosettes,  a few inches tall ,  to a larger species with stout 60ft trunks.   Aloes, with a waxy surface to their succulent leaves, are well-adapted to harsh climates with infrequent rainfalls.   They can flower many times with clusters of yellow, orange or red tubular flowers,   angled downwards on a simple or branched inflorescence.

They are described as wild and rewarding and have been cultivated for thousands of years.

Growing aloes is very easy and extremely rewarding when they bloom.   Aloes are drought resistant and they deserve a place in any water-wise garden, as they are also low-maintenance if grown properly.

Growing aloes in beds

A few pointers need to be taken into consideration when preparing a soil bed to grow aloes.   One is how quickly the soil drains, secondly how much light it gets, and thirdly, how windy the particular area is.    Beds in windy areas tend to dry out faster.    Obviously, the quicker the bed drains the faster the soil dries and this also applies to a bed that receives more light,   the more light the faster the soil dries.    Aloes require soil with good drainage.

Aloes are quite tolerant when it comes to watering, but there are also a few species that do not tolerate overwatering.

Aloes that are a little less tolerant towards overwatering can be grown in raised beds.    Raise the bed approximately 30cm and grow the plants in pure washed river sand.    This greatly helps facilitate drainage and prevent rot of the stems and roots.

Growing aloes in pots

Aloes thrive  in pots, especially dwarf aloes. Aloes that are larger can be grown in bigger pots but their beauty and splendour is not fully realised.

When growing Aloes in pots use a relatively simple soil mix consisting of:
–4 parts washed river sand
–2 parts garden soil (if your soil is very fine use less)
–1 part finely sieved compost

You know you have your soil mix when right when the water does not collect on the top of the soil in the pot.    Good drainage is important.

Aloes are forgiving plants and they will tolerate an excess of water.   Growing Aloes successfully requires a good watering.   Do not be tempted to water.    If in doubt do not water.    It would be wise to invest in a hydrometer to measure the moisture content of the soil.    Allow the ground where you have planted your Aloes to dry out for a day or two before watering again.

Light requirements for aloes

Growing aloes in full sunlight is always best.    There is the exception ,  so a bit research will do no harm.    Aloes grown in full sun have better colouring and are less susceptible to pests and diseases,   especially those caused by overwatering.

Many Aloes will tolerate shade but they often become huge green monsters and they loose their distinctive markings and colourations on the leaves.

Frost protection for aloes

Aloes are succulent plants and they do not tolerate very cold conditions.   There are certain species that can be grown in areas where severe frost occurs, namely the Aloe Striatula.

Most other Aloes should be grown in an area of the garden that is well protected from frost and cold strong wind.    The plants can be covered with some hessian cloth to help protect the plant during the months when frost is at its most severe.

Fertilizing aloes

Wild established aloes will seldom need fertilization.    A feeding in the beginning of its growth season may be all that is necessary.    Aloes in pots though,  need to be fertilized on a monthly basis.   Once a month,   mix up a standard solution of 2:2:2 and feed all your Aloes that are in pots.   Drench the pots in the fertilizer mixture.

Home remedy uses of the aloe vera

This plant has been shown in studies to help heal minor wounds eight days faster than standard dressing.    It is an antibacterial and contains vitamins and minerals, that can ease eczema and psoriasis flare-ups.   The tip of an aloe leaf can be used to treat sunburn too.
Please note though, that toxic reactions by sensitive individuals to aloe vera have been reported,  despite its widespread,  mainly safe use.    Creative and enterprising beauty experts are using it for a lot more than the occasional cut or rash.   They are using it to get gorgeous, too.


The untamed aloe plant





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