Aloe-Aloe® hybrid aloe care
Ignoring the awesome architectural look and easy care nature of Aloe-Aloe® hybrid aloes, their single biggest attraction has to be their wonderful flowering ability.
The extensive flowering of these hybrid aloes really sets them apart from most other succulents and cacti.
But it also means that the care requirements differ slightly as a result, particularly when it comes to ensuring maximum flowering from your plant.
So lets have a quick look at the care requirements for Aloe-Aloe® hybrid aloes.
LET THERE BE LIGHT
And there was light.
And the light was good!
- Bright sunlight works best
- If only filtered sunlight is available, ensure a minimum half-day for flowering to occur
- Avoid overwatering plants in shaded locations
Aloe-Aloe® hybrid aloes will not thrive in an indoor setting
DOWN AND DIRTY
- Avoid clayey type soils that do not drain well
- A sandy soil with added organic matter works well.
ALL I NEED IS THE AIR THAT I BREATH AND TO LOVE YOU...
Ok, so maybe The Hollies used some artistic license in the lyrics of this song, because in practical terms it's probably not a long term option!
However, for hybrid aloe performance:
- Ensure excellent air circulation to avoid fungal growth
Flowering aloe hybrids are hungry feeders. Consider:
- Well composted cow manure applied as a top dressing in spring as an organic matter addition
- A slow release fertiliser for the growing season such as Scotts Osmocote "Cacti and Succulents"
- Or a regime of water soluble fertiliser at light rates during the growing season
- Avoid high nitrogen fertilisers in the lead up to flowering season that will promote leaf growth at the expense of flowering
When you first receive your plants:
- Aloe-Aloe® hybrid aloes arrive to you already sun hardened and should be planted out in full sun immediately
- If your plants are received bare rooted ensure that they are not planted too deeply in the garden bed. Just so the top of the roots are covered
- If a plant needs stabilising, use a small bamboo stake rather than planting too deeply
- If your plants are purchased in pots ie; local delivery, then they should receive regular watering after planting for a period of around 4 weeks to ensure the soil does not dry out completely and the plant has a decent chance to establish
- If your plants were purchased bare rooted, an initial watering, after planting, to settle the soil, is all that's required. Wait around 4 weeks before watering again. After that, follow the 4 weeks of regular watering as per the potted plant schedule above
PESTS AND DISEASES
Aphids and mealybug
These are the most common sap-sucking insects in Australian gardens.
Aphids are soft bodied and pear shaped with a body size from 1mm up to 4mm and can be shades of green, pale yellow or even white.
Mealybugs are about 3mm to 7mm long and are covered in whitish ‘mealy wax’.
Aphids are amongst the most prominent and successful pests worldwide and in our experience are the greatest risk to aloes in Australia.
They seem to the most active after winter cold has passed but sometimes even during mild winter weather.
They will aim for the very centre of the aloe plant and often need very close examination to detect them.
One of the best indicators of aphid activity is ants on an aloe.
Ants and aphids have a symbiotic relationship with ants affording protection to mealy bugs in exchange for honeydew, the sticky substance they secrete.
Ants can carry aphids from plant to plant.
When they have been left unhindered for a few weeks, the aloe reacts by closing the centre leaves in an effort to protect the damaged tissue.
This suits the baddies perfectly because it means more hiding place for them. If left untreated aphids can cause severe damage to the new growth (they puncture the plant), sometimes with rot setting in resulting in the loss of a plant.
Regular inspection for aphids or mealybugs is important
There are a number of organic pesticides that are able to be used
Systemic garden insecticide sprays are most effective in controlling this pest
Be sure to pull the centre leaves apart where they seem to be stuck together, before applying insecticide.
It is also important to cut off infected and damaged leaves
Alternative treatments which are more environmentally friendly are possible and include:
- Spraying with a high pressure of water from a garden hose
- Wipe off aphids/mealy bugs with a sponge of soapy water
- Spraying with neem oil
- Spray with a cocktail of herbal oil
Black leaf spot may be caused by a variety of fungal or bacterial infections, and is more likely when plants are under stress due to excessive moisture or high temperatures combined with high humidity.
Bad drainage, not enough sun and poor soil often make this worse.
A lack of nutrients can affect susceptibility.
Spots are more likely to appear on older leaves.
Some aloes have a genetic susceptibility, and often a few spots are unavoidable.
This is no cause for concern, as it does not affect the plant’s health or flowering (they are a bit like a pimple on a human).
Usually with improving the soil (rich organic soil), allowing more sun and improving drainage, black spot will not appear on the new leaves.
If the spots are really unsightly (e.g. covering more than 10% of the leaf surface) spraying with a fungicide (e.g. mancozeb) may be necessary to clean up the new growth but the old leaves will always carry the damage until they are removed.
Eriophyid or Gall mites can cause damage to plant leaves and/or flowers of many different plant species and have been increasingly seen in aloes across Australia in recent years.
These mites are parasites and whilst they seldom kill plants, they do penetrate plant cells causing visible deformations and abnormalities in the form of unsightly galls on the leaves or crooked flower clusters.
These galls look like abnormal tissue growths and can be different colours including yellow and red.
It is important that remedial action be taken and that they are not left untreated as they can easily spread in the garden.
A contact insecticide will kill the mites on the surface of the plant but not those mites within the gall which are microscopic (unable to be seen) and have an ideal environment to live in as they are protected from predators and contact insecticides/miticides.
For this reason it is recommended that the entire affected plant be destroyed by double bagging and disposing of properly.
Do not leave affected plant material in the garden.
An alternative which is risky, and therefore not recommended, is to surgically remove the galls with a sharp blade- In performing such an amputation some adjacent “normal” plant material should also be removed. The wound and the entire plant should then be sprayed with a systemic insecticide/miticide.
This way it is possible to save the plant, but extreme care must be taken in handling affected plants and removed galls so as not to spread the mite which travels through the air easily and can therefore affect nearby plants.
For this reason, destroying the entire affected plant is our recommendation.
We also recommend subsequent routine spraying of nearby plants with different systemic insecticides and looking out for infestations to ensure that these eriophyid mites are eliminated from your garden.
Spraying with neem oil insecticides have been found to be useful as a preventative control.