|Good drainage is essential; Add humus and plenty stones around the roots - especially dolomite stones. Most South African aloes prefer basic soil.|
|Aloes thrive on mature manure. If manure is not available then use any of the artificial fertilizers on the market during the growing season. It is better to use too little artificial fertilizer than too much.. Epsom salts crystals (magnesium-sulfate) can be sprinkled on the ground round the plants. One teaspoonful during the start and middle of the growing season. Do not sprinkle the salt or any fertilizer on the plants.|
|When in doubt leave the plant dry. If a plant starts to fold or
shrivel it's leaves, check the roots. If the plant is large dig carefully on one
side and see if the roots are healthy. Do not add extra water before you are not
sure that the roots healthy. A dry plant will make new roots, a wet plant will rot.
If you go on leave, even if it is more than a month, leave the aloes dry, rather than to get some-one to water them.
|There are aloes which can take a lot of frost. Others will loose the flowers but survive the frost. One tip I can give here is to keep aloes dry during winter if you are in a summer rainfall area with winter frost. I have no experience with frost in wet climates, but do contact me and I will put you into touch with people who can help. We have winter rain, but no frost. Which is tricky in itself without the frost.|
|The seeds of aloes will be blown by the wind and get stuck under stones
or other plants It is interesting that the aloe seeds of very dry climates have large
wings to travel further and they will need a rather large boulder to catch them.
Small aloes are usually mainly in shade, larger plants outgrow their shade. However
there are aloes which would thrive better on the shade side of a hill/mountain and in
shrubs or bushes. It will be necessary to provide shade for young aloes.
Once past the young stage most aloes needs sun to flower.
Aloe variegata is a small aloe from a very dry climate area in SA, and it grows mainly in the shade of other bushes or boulders. This aloe grows very well as an indoor pot plant in Europe. tip; If your A.variegata does not bloom, give more sun/light.
|The aloe species differ very much in their growth and so do their seeds.|
|Here is a rough guide.|
|Germination differ for the seed - even seed from the same pod. This enhances the chances for survival. The seed of some Aloe species does not have dormancy and should be sown in 1-3 years depending how the seed was stored. (store without air, cool and dry) Some seed will not germinate until the inhibitor is removed. Aloe vera (barbadensis) has dormancy. It germinates best in light at 21C and may take from 30 to 180 days to germinate.|
|Use a loose neutral medium about 3 cm deep (little over an inch)- we use one part loam (garden soil) with 3 parts crushed palm and one part sand. Sterilize in the oven at 325 degrees F for 50 minutes. Place the seeds on top and cover with a layer of course sand. Place the seedling tray into a larger tray with water and a fungicide mix to wet the medium. Remove the seedling tray from the water and let the surplus water drip out. Place in a clear plastic bag and keep in a shaded warm place. Not a dark place.|
|As soon as the seedlings start to appear open the bag but I know of many cultivators who keep the bag closed until the seedlings are ready to be transplanted.|
|It can be days weeks or months for the seeds to germinate. Do not give up on the seeds unless fungus has obviously taken over, and it may be a good idea to keep the medium in the seedling tray slightly moist after the seedlings were transplanted for those late developers.|
|It happens often that some seedlings will appear after a discarded seed tray that has been standing dry for months is watered.|
|Seedlings can be crowded without ill effects. It is better to leave them crowded and wait until they have at least three leaves before transplanting.|
|There are e-mail lists to join at http://groups.yahoo.com/ with a lot of information.|
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