Care for Aloes in Autumn – for Winter Wonder

Care for Aloes in Autumn – for Winter Wonder

Care for Aloes in Autumn – for Winter Wonder by Jenny Slabber of Talborne Organics

Aloes are gaining popularity in South African gardens for all the right reasons like low maintenance, not water thirsty, hardy, and they make wonderful focal points in an African landscape as a result of their magnificent structures, forms and shapes.  The variety in colours, sizes and designs astound!

Just because they are so versatile and undemanding, they cannot be totally neglected in the garden. With a lot less love, care and attention than most other plants they will reward many drab late autumn and winter gardens with flowers of magnificent splendour and feed a host of beneficial creatures like sunbirds and bees with nectar.


  • Aloes could be unhealthy and stressed by excess watering in mixed gardens that are on automated irrigation systems.  So be sure to group plantings according to their water requirements when designing the irrigation system.
  • If soils become waterlogged and do not drain freely, Aloes often develop root rot.  
  • Plant Aloes in areas where soil is sandy or rocky and free draining. You might need to create these conditions in the planting area by adding rocks, sand and twigs in clay or dense soils.
  • Choose the correct variety to suite your climate – some varieties of Aloes might be frost sensitive; others tolerate freezing conditions.
  • Aloes prefer a sunny spot in the garden but can take filtered shade for part of day.
  • De Wet Plant Breeders (The Aloe Farm) breeds Aloes that are selected for qualities such as spectacular flowers, great disease resistance and hardy growers, which makes them the gardener’s best choice.


  1. Research the best Aloe variety for planting position, size and effect such as whether it will be grouped in a garden bed, or planted in containers, or whether a single aloe or aloes will be placed as feature points in the garden.  The varieties range from small to tall, with single colour or multi-coloured flowers, and striped, speckled or plain leaves to achieve an exciting display.
  2. Dig a square hole with adequate space to fit the root ball. Remove container and carefully place the Aloe into the hole. Support large Aloes with a wooden stake to keep the plant upright and to prevent damage while planting.
  3. Mix the following with topsoil and fill planting hole: 1 to 3lt of good quality compost, 250ml of FERTILIS Earthworm Castings and When planting Aloes in containers, mix the above conditioners into the soil or growing medium, plant the Aloe and fill the container to cover root ball. 
  4. When planting Aloes in containers, mix the above conditioners into the soil or growing medium, plant the Aloe and fill the container to cover root ball.
  5. Water well, every week or 2 until roots settle and establish. Then reduce to occasional watering as required in growing climate.


  • Fertilize Aloes after their flowering season ends with about (adjust for size of Aloe) 100ml per m² of Vita Grow 2:3:2(16).
  • In the Autumn months of February to April prepare them for flowering by fertilizing at about 100ml per m2 with Vita Fruit & Flower 3:1:5(18). This will also build strong cells to resist disease on roots and leaves.


Disease conditions in Aloes are usually root rots, galls, and cankers, often symptoms of distress which makes the plant vulnerable to attacks of bacteria, fungus or virus that might be present in the environment such as soil pathogens, cross contamination from other plants during propagation or by wind or waterborne spores.

  • In very wet or dry conditions the Aloes planting area can be drenched with Biogrow Phyta at 5ml per 1Litre water to strengthen against root rots and drought stress.
  • Cut off leaves and stems that are infected with diseases and burn if possible.
  • Fertilize by spreading 100ml or 250ml (adjust for Aloe size) of each VITA Grow 2:3:2 and VITA Fruit & Flower 3:1:5(18) organic fertilizer and compost or a thin layer of FERTILIS Earthworm Castings over soil surface to condition soils and promote plant health.


  • Pests most likely to attack Aloes are snout beetles, white scale, mealy bug and ants.  Identify the cause of distress, which will often be caused by hungry, unfed plants.  Just because Aloes are hardy does not mean that they are not hungry.  Imagine the amount of nutrients that go into building the fine structures of Aloes.
  • Feed them up as suggested above to maintain these magnificent bodies in fine form and at the same time resist pest attack!
  • Where pest attack is present, try to start treatment as early as possible for best results, especially before Snout Beetle larvae can burrow into core and stems of plant.
  • Spray leaves and stems with Biogrow Pyrol diluted 10ml per 1 Litre water in the late afternoon. This organic solution will smother and kill the responsible pest and denature their eggs, without poisoning people, pets and the environment as the Pyrol is broken down by sunlight within 24 hours.
  • Control ants by drenching soil around the plant with Pyrol mixture as above.  Ants are often responsible for carrying scales, mealy bug and aphids onto distressed plants, so use them as signs of problems to come.

Remember, with all pest and disease conditions in plants, prevention is easier and better than cure!