Indigenous Nursery News Blog

How to Take Care of Aloe Plants in South Africa

Aloe plants are generally easy to grow, and, in most cases, it is easy to take care of Aloes here in South Africa.

In cultivation in our gardens, Aloe plants often grow a little too fast and get too much water. This can result in a number of problems and pests that prevent these beautiful succulents from looking their best.  In view of this I thought I would share with you some useful tips and hints for dealing with a selection of pests that attack Aloes, particularly those in cultivation.

Autumn and winter are when most of the Aloes come into their own and we can look forward to their magnificent flowers and all the wildlife that they attract to the garden. Let’s make sure that we get the best out of our Aloes this season.

caring for aloes in south africa

Aloe Pests and Disease and How to Treat Them

Aloe Cancer or Gall Mite

This is an abnormal and unsightly growth that often first appears as deformed flowers.  It can also spread to the base of the leaves where you will notice this unsightly growth.  This is caused by a microscopic mite and should be treated as a matter of urgency as it will spread.  It is important that this condition is treated as it can become a source of infestation for years to come if untreated. It also causes the Aloes to become really unsightly.

aloe pests and diseases


Firstly, you should cut off all the affected parts with a sharp blade such as a Stanley knife. The parts that you have cut away should be burnt as they can be infectious. Paint with pure (neat) Malasol or Pyrol.  Malasol is longer lasting whilst Pyrol, although shorter term, is environmentally friendly.

Aloe Snout Beetle

This is probably the number one enemy of Aloes.  This beetle is easy to see as it can grow up to 1.2cm long. It usually beds itself down between the leaves and stem in the centre of the Aloe and sticks its proboscis into the leaves and sucks up the leaf sap. This leaves a dark spot that dries into a spot with a puncture mark in the middle. The Snout Beetle also lays its eggs at the base of the leaves near the top of the Aloe.  The larvae then bore into the stem and the crown of the Aloe and eventually kills it.

aloe snout beetle treatment

Aloe Snout Beetle Treatment

Once again, the damaged area and all the tunnels should be cut out and any grubs removed and killed. Cut out the areas in small increments until you reach healthy tissue.

If the plant is badly infested but the crown still intact, cut the crown off and let it dry for a few weeks and then replant it.  It should root and grow.  The bottom half of the stem will be useless and should be burnt to kill off the snout beetles and their larvae. Vigilance is important so you catch this pest before it multiplies.


To prepare the lipids mix Panaf 5 with Malasol.  (4ml Malasol to 200ml Panaf 5.).

To spray the plants mix 5ml of the mixture above with 250ml Water.

Aphids and Mealy Bugs

At the onset of spring, when temperatures become slightly warmer, the Aphids become active after hiding in the depth of the plant during the worst of the winter weather. 

When it warms up they will head for the new leaves at the centre of the Aloes and are very cryptic, so you need to check carefully. If you see that ants are active on the Aloe, this is often an indication of Aphids and you should take a closer look. The damaged leaves will close up and make the Aloe unsightly for the whole season. Try and detect the aphids before this happens as a severe infestation can cause rot with the subsequent loss of the Aloe.

how to treat mealy bugs on aloe


A variety of garden insecticide sprays and powders are effective in controlling this pest, as are some of the organic insecticides. Remember to pull the centre leaves apart where they seem to be stuck together, before applying insecticide.


To prepare the lipids mix Panaf 5 with Malasol.  (4ml Malasol to 200ml Panaf 5). To spray the plants mix 5ml of the mixture above with 250ml Water.

White Scale

This is an easy pest to get rid of as you can see them easily.  Look out for white spots starting to creep along the Aloe leaves.  These are little insects that set themselves down to suck the sap.  They never move but breed and infest the whole plant.

taking care of aloes in south africa


Any environmentally friendly insecticide will kill them. I spray with environmentally friendly ‘Pyrol’ every week for 3 weeks and then take a soft brush and brush the dead insects off. Spray once a week for 3 to 4 weeks with Pyrol.

Black Leaf Spot

The black spots you sometimes see on the older Aloe leaves are normally either a fungus or bacteria and are caused by stress and are often unavoidable. Too much water, high humidity or even a combination of these with very hot weather can cause them to appear.  These are not a problem as they don’t affect either the health or flowering of the Aloe.

how to treat black spot infection on aloe


Spray with Panaf 1.

Using Pesticides on Aloe and Other Plants

It is vitally important that the control measures you choose to use are products that are as environmentally friendly as possible.

Please do not throw around some of the many really dangerous chemicals that are available on the market.

The measures we have suggested take this fact into account. Some are poisonous, but as they are carried in the lipids the quantity used is very small. Whenever you spray your garden make sure you use rubber gloves, wear long sleeves and a mask Keep your back to the wind so that any overspray blows away from you. 

It is also advisable to lock your pets away from the area when spraying. Remember, lipids are absorbed almost immediately so you will only have to lock your pets up for about 30 minutes. 

Aloes attract a vast number of species of insects and birds. Therefore, it is always advisable to use some of the pesticides suggested when there are no flowers or seeds on the plants as this will limit the destructive effects on the ecology of your garden. No flowers mean no pollen or nectar and, therefore, none of the creatures that utilise them are being harmed.

using pesticides on aloes

Tips for Growing Aloes

  • Use Aloe species that are suited to the local weather conditions that they will be grown in.  Some Aloes may have their flowers damaged by frost under severe conditions while the plant itself tolerates the frost.
  • Plant in well-drained soil. Aloes are not suited to heavy clay soils that can become waterlogged. Having said that, Aloe cooperi and Aloe ecklonis are examples of Aloes that will happily grow in well-irrigated to wet soil.
  • Be careful not to plant your Aloes too deep.
  • Aloes that are planted ex-open ground should not be watered for about 2 weeks after planting. This is to reduce the chance of fungal attack and rotting.
  • If you plant larger Aloes, remember to stake them firmly while they are forming their new roots.
  • Assist with frost proofing by using Agrisil or Lipid No 3.
  • Use Rockdust when planting Aloes. This promotes strong healthy plants.
  • DO NOT OVERWATER. This can cause rot and increase the chances of attack by pests and diseases. Conversely, they do need some water to look their best.
  • An annual application of ‘Just Organic’ Pellets or other slow-release fertiliser in summer is all the feeding they need.

how to care for aloes

Random Harvest Nursery – Indigenous Nursery Johannesburg

For further assistance with growing and taking care of your Aloe garden, please give us a call. We have an extensive selection of Aloe species and can assist you with advice on where and how to plant them. Contact us on 082 553 0598 or email us on [email protected]. Alternatively pop around and see the selection of Aloe species and other plants at our beautiful indigenous plant nursery in Muldersdrift, Gauteng.


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