Easy aloes for beds and containers Self-parenting plants

aloe, industry expert, december, greenery, life is a garden, colour, indigenous, hybrid, south africa, self parenting, flowers, plants, red, orange, soil, garden, gardening

If you’re looking for no-fuss plants that will survive without you for a while, aloes are the perfect choice. Life is a Garden sat down with The Aloe Farm to find out which aloes perform the best and what maintenance practices you need to know. Remember to visit your local GCA Garden Centre for all your succulent needs and great advice to help you, help your plants self-parent this holiday.

December’s topic: Self-parenting plants
Theme: Easy aloes for beds and containers  
Industry expert: Andy De Wet 
Garden centre: Aloe Farm based in Hartbeespoort, Gauteng: www.thealoefarm.co.za

1. We would love to hear about your personal plant journey. How did it all start and what about aloes inspired you to make them your main focus at the Aloe Farm?  

I always loved nature and especially animals as a child, but my horticultural inspiration certainly came from my dad who was an avid gardener his whole life. He bought some aloes when I was a botany student in 1972, and I fell in love with them. I began reading aloe books and collecting species. I soon realised that natural hybrids occur in the wild and was curious about what I could create if I hybridised selected parents from different locations. 

I then began making my first (not too exciting) initial combinations in 1973 and over time I saw the commercial possibilities, which is when the real fun started with clear breeding objectives. These goals developed as I gained experience in retail, wholesale and landscaping. 

I believe that if you want a successful business you have to be unique and The Aloe Farm was an obvious opportunity to me as it could become an interesting indigenous destination nursery, built on a unique strength.

aloe, industry expert, december, greenery, life is a garden, colour, indigenous, hybrid, south africa, self parenting, flowers, plants, red, orange, soil, garden, gardening
aloe, industry expert, december, greenery, life is a garden, colour, indigenous, hybrid, south africa, self parenting, flowers, plants, red, orange, soil, garden, gardening

2. Your website is truly an aloe grower’s dream! With so many to choose from, what advice could you offer our beginner gardeners? 

Plant Flanders Poppy for Remembrance Day

Poppies, flanders, red, war, garden, mayford, gardening, flowers, spring, greenery, colour, life is a garden, biodiversity
Poppies, flanders, red, war, garden, mayford, gardening, flowers, spring, greenery, colour, life is a garden, biodiversity

Lest We Forget 

In anticipation of this year’s Remembrance Day, MayFord Seeds have launched a new livery seed packet, filled with Flanders poppy (Papaver rhoeas) seeds. 

War is unfortunately still a reality in our modern world, whether it be conflict between countries or the fight against Covid 19. Initially instituted to commemorate those that fell in World War 1, Remembrance Day on the 11th of November now symbolises all those that have lost their lives in the line of duty. The Flanders poppy, which carpeted the battlefields of the Western Front, is worn or laid as wreaths to mark the day. 

Time is of the essence though. If you want your very own crop of striking poppies in bloom for Remembrance Day, simply visit a GCA Garden Centre soon  and purchase your seed packet to sow. These delightful flowers  are really easy to grow. Choose a bed that gets loads of sun, dig it over, sprinkle the seed, pat down and water. If they can grow on a bombed-out battlefield, they will just love your garden! 

Poppies, flanders, red, war, garden, mayford, gardening, flowers, spring, greenery, colour, life is a garden, biodiversity
Poppies, flanders, red, war, garden, mayford, gardening, flowers, spring, greenery, colour, life is a garden, biodiversity

Top Tips 

  • The seed needs cool soil conditions to germinate, so plant them from late autumn into early spring. 
  • Germination should occur within 2 to 3 weeks. 
  • Plant in a sunny position in beds or pots. 
  • You can either sow them in drifts around the garden or do a massed planting in one bed. 
  • Dig over the bed before planting and plant the seed where you want them to mature as they prefer not to be moved. 
  • Once sown, pat down the soil firmly and water well. 
  • Keep the soil damp until the seedlings are established, after which the plants are surprisingly water-wise. 
  • They do respond well to liquid fertilisers. 
  • Deadhead any spent flowers to extend their flowering time. 
  • The blooms can be used as cut flowers.

Strawberries and Cream on the patio

Embrace bedless gardening and embark on a creative container adventure, right on your stoep!

Who said that beds make the garden? Well, no one, actually! And that’s great news for the balcony, stoep, and patio gardener. You can still enjoy all the glory of gardening by playing with pots, experimenting with the colour wheel, using vertical planters, and adding a few fabulous blooms.

 

Container gardening

Using different sized and shaped containers add height and variety to the space, while also giving you an opportunity to play with different styles. Incorporating hanging baskets is another simple way of adding greenery to areas with limited space. Using woven baskets (instead of plastic) with spikey foliage will bring in some lovely texture. Spend some time in the pots and basket section next time you’re at the nursery and see what jumps out at you!

*Play away: Try using cute teapots or gumboots as planters to add a little character and fun to your space.

*Go green: You could upcycle cans to use as pots and decorate as desired to suit your existing décor (this is a fun one for kids too).

*Top tip: Ensure your planting containers have good drainage to avoid root rot.

 

Get your patio blooming

A great way to bring in more life to your patio paradise is by planting gorgeous, blossoming blooms. Imagine a couple of flower pots neatly arranged along the lonely stoep wall or outdoor windowsill. Any available space is an opportunity for flowers to flourish. Get this lush look by using the Thriller, Filler, and Spiller (TFS) concept to create the ultimate flower pot.

 

*Try this - TFS: One upright focal point plant as your Thriller, a mounded plant as the Filler around it, and then something to trail over the edge as your splendid Spiller.

Red Spider Mites Gogga of the Month

Summer is in full swing and the intense heat combined with the under-watering of certain plants, (like roses), are ideal conditions for Red Spider Mites (Tetranychus urticae). Also known as two-spotted spider mites, they are small arachnids related to spiders that cause damage to your plants

Identification

To identify them you will need to look out for white/yellowish spots/patches on their upper leaf surface. These spots multiply and the leaf becomes more yellow with the outer edges of the leaf staying greener. This is an indication of the increase in mites sucking on the underside of the leaves. Later leaves may drop off, and in severe cases, tiny web-like strands can be seen on the plant. Turn the leaf over and by using a magnifying glass you will notice a few, (or many), very tiny adult mites moving around. If in doubt, take a few sample leaves into your local GCA Garden Centre to identify the pest. Make sure that the sample is carefully sealed in a zip-lock bag.

What does this mean for me and my plants?

If the mite infestation isn’t too severe, you can keep them at bay by regular deep drenching and watering often. Use a thick mulch of peanut shells, pine needles, bark or crushed apricot pips to retain moisture in the soil for longer and help keep your plants cool in the hot Summer sun.

Suggested Action

Spider mite populations can build up tremendous numbers and can decimate your plants in a very short time if the conditions are right and left untreated. Certain recommended oils are best used to spray on the underside of the leaves in order to suffocate the pest and these can be bought at your garden centre. Tip: Do not apply oil sprays in the heat of the day.