You have no doubt heard of the miracle properties of aloe, both for your skin and internally. Did you know that this beautiful succulent is also relatively easy to grow? Plus, it adds a wonderful architectural element to your home or garden.
Houseplants are a great way to bring nature inside your home, but not all houseplants are multifunctional. Aloe vera is one of those plants that not only looks great indoors or outdoors, but you can also harvest the gel to use.
Let’s see how to grow aloe and how to harvest soothing gel!
Get to know aloe
You can spot aloe plants by their distinctive thick, succulent leaves. When in bloom, the plants have spiky flowers that appear on a long stalk in yellow, red or orange colors. The leaves are full of a watery gel which is used for its soothing properties.
The plant grows rapidly and takes about three to four years to reach maturity. However, if you want the flowers to bloom, you will have to wait a few more years for that. In the meantime, enjoy these gorgeous leaves.
The correct temperature is between 55℉ and 85℉, although it can survive 40℉. Risk of frost? Your plant must be protected.
For people living in USDA growing zones 8-11, you can grow this plant outdoors. Otherwise, either grow them indoors, grow them in a container, and bring them indoors over winter, or protect them during cold spells with cardboard or some other covering.
Best Aloe Species and Hybrids
Did you know that there are dozens of species of aloe? Some are small plants and some grow as tall as trees. Some common choices include aloe veraBarbados (A. barbadensis), soap (A. maculata), spider (A. humilis)golden tooth (A.nobilis), tiger’s tooth (A. juvenna), and aloe lace (A. aristata).
Candlestick (A. arborescens) and cape aloe (A. ferox) are particularly cold hardy if you live in a cooler region than this plant typically prefers.
Some fine decorative aloe hybrids for cultivation include A. ‘Crosby’s prolific,’ A.’ Kelly Blue,’ A.’ Kelly Griffin,’ A. ‘Hercules,’ A.’Moondance,’ a pink,’ and A. ‘Pink blush.’
Propagation and planting of aloe
There are two easy ways to propagate aloe plants. The first is to simply buy one from a store. The second is to take a “puppy” from an existing plant. A pup is just a small offshoot of the parent plant.
To propagate a puppy, the first step is to wait for the offsets to reach the correct size. Ideally, you want them to be one-fifth the size of the original plant. Then you can gently remove the plant from the pot and prune the little ones. Take care to include roots with each pup.
Finally, plant the pups in well-drained sandy soil or cactus potting soil and water well.
When it comes to transplanting aloe, you can place it indoors or outdoors. The soil should be sandy or rocky and very well drained if growing outdoors. Indoors, simply use a cactus or succulent potting soil.
Place the transplant in a hole as deep and twice as wide as the container the plant was in. Fill around with soil and water. If you are planting in a container, use one that is not much larger than the existing container.
How to take care of aloe
Aloe should be in direct sunlight outdoors and in an area with direct sunlight indoors. If the plants are placed in an area with too much light indoors, the sun can burn and damage your plant.
Outdoors, don’t even think about planting your aloe in anything other than very well-drained soil. This plant can’t stand even a little standing water. Work in plenty of sand, rocks and well-rotted compost if your soil is not loose and well-drained.
Indoors, use cactus potting soil to ensure your aloe has the right medium for healthy growth.
Choose a pot slightly larger than the root ball of the plant. If you use a much larger pot, you won’t be able to water your aloe properly and you run the risk of root rot.
Speaking of which, nailing down the right amount of water is important in growing aloe. Before you take out your watering can, you should check that the soil is completely dry. However, you should not let the plant dry out for too long as this will cause the leaves to wilt.
As soon as the soil is dry, water abundantly by pouring a trickle of water in the center of the plant. Gardeners make the mistake of overwatering or not giving the soil enough time to dry out, so you really need to make sure you’re paying attention to moisture levels.
Remember to test the soil for dryness and monitor watering levels to avoid killing your plant.
Although this type of plant does not need to be fertilized often, feed it once a year in the spring. Use a cactus or succulent fertilizer like Miracle-Gro Succulent Plant Food.
If your plant develops brown leaves, remove them to keep your plant healthy. All you need is a pair of clean garden shears or scissors to cut off the dead leaves.
If your plant is starting to get too big for your liking, you can also prune the leaves at the base, which will encourage new growth. If you want to give an aloe plant to friends, you can propagate the shoots as described above.
Pests and diseases
Indoors, aloe vera is vulnerable to mealybugs, mealybugs, and mites.
To treat mealybugs and scale, wipe up all insects and treat with insecticidal soap. Our guide explains this process in more detail.
To treat dust mites, see our guide for advice.
Plantation of Aloe Vera
If you are growing your aloe plant outdoors or indoors, but want to combine your aloe with something else, it is a good idea to grow it with other succulents. They have similar requirements and will do well next to each other.
Never grow aloe near anything that likes a lot of moisture or heavy clay, such as hostas, rhododendrons, heather, ferns, or Japanese maples.
Harvesting and using aloe
We all know that aloe can be harvested for its medicinal gel. To use the healing gel topically, all you have to do is simply cut off a sheet and rub the wet end into your skin.
One of the most popular uses of aloe is for skin care and hair treatment. The gel is also great for keeping your skin hydrated.
Aloe also has internal uses. For example, research suggests that it can regulate your blood sugar. If you only take two tablespoons a day of aloe, it has the potential to regulate your blood sugar.
Historically, aloe has been used to soothe burns, as an antioxidant, and to improve gum health. Aloe may not be the first thing you think of when brushing your teeth, but give it a try!
Instead of using store-bought toothpaste, which is high in chemicals, try a natural alternative like aloe.
A plant with more than one purpose
Growing aloe is a fantastic choice for people looking to grow a beautiful houseplant that can also be added to your medicine cabinet. Using the gel from your plant can relieve burns or make your hair shine.
You don’t even have to be an expert gardener to grow it.
Even if you are not interested in its medicinal properties, it sure is beautiful to look at!
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