Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis) is an evergreen, succulent herb. The stems are short, the leaves are nearly clustered, and they are thick and juicy. It is usually 15-35 cm long, 4-5 cm wide at the base, with several small teeth on the top, and sparse spiny small teeth on the edge. Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis) grows in tropical or subtropical regions. The nature and shape of each species are very different. Some are like huge trees, up to about 20 meters high, and some are less than 10 cm in height. There are many types of leaves and flowers in cultivation. Each has its own characteristics and various poses, which are deeply loved by people. Aloe Vera is a tropical plant that is chilling, but it is highly adaptable and is a plant that is particularly easy to grow. Next, this article will give you a detailed introduction to the planting and care of Aloe Vera.
How to Choose and Prepare a Planting Site
When grown indoors, position your plant in a spot where it can get an adequate amount of light. This can be achieved by placing within 3 feet away from unshaded south or west-facing window. In cooler, cloudier climates, on the other hand, or in homes without south or west-facing window, it is best to use an artificial grow-light for your Aloe Plant for healthy growth even in dim interiors. Do this by placing it 1 to 2 feet above the plant during daylight hours, or about 16 hours per day.
If you are growing your Aloe Plant outdoors, the ideal spot for them is in a south or west-facing outdoor area. However, if you are planning to move your indoor aloe outdoors, make sure to gradually acclimate the plant over the course of 1 to 2 weeks before leaving it outside. Doing this should lessen the risk of your plant to get sunburned due to sudden changes to its environment.
How to Grow Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis)
While you can technically grow aloe from seed, the process is long and somewhat tricky. The easiest way to propagate it is to remove and repot offsets from established plants.
Luckily, aloe makes propagation extra-easy because it spreads by growing offsets, often called “pups,” that essentially give you a whole, entire new plant when you cut them off and plant them.
Steps for Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis) Propagation With Pups
Pups are clones of the parent plant that grow as an offset from the original plant's roots or stem. They depend on the parent plant's water and nutrient supply until their own root system can fully support them.
Aloe Vera typically begins to grow pups when it's about three years old. The older and healthier the plant, the more easily it will grow offsets.
Before you start propagating, prepare the following materials below:
- One healthy aloe plant with pups
- A sharp, clean knife or scissors to cut with
- A pot or container with drainage holes
- Well-draining soil, preferably a succulent blend
- A rooting hormone (optional)
After you have all the necessary equipment on hand, you may now start propagating your Aloe by the step-by-step process below:
- Step 1: Find where the offsets are attached to the mother plant. Separate them using a sharp, clean knife or scissors and make sure to leave at least an inch of stem on the offset.
- Step 2: Brush away as much soil as possible from the offset and allow it to callous over the cut for several days. This should help protect your pups from rot. You may also dip the ends of your offsets in rooting hormone to encourage root development. And make sure to place it in a warm location with indirect light.
- Step 3: Once the offsets have formed callouses, pot them in a dry well-draining soil intended especially for cacti and succulents plants. While your offsets are still small, their roots need to breathe and adjust to the fresh soil, so make sure not to pack the soil down tightly.
- Step 4: Put the newly-potted pups in a sunny location. Wait at least a week to water and keep the soil on the dry side. Their roots need time to heal, which is best done with dry soil. Moderately start watering your Aloe plant again after at least a week has passed.
How to Care for Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis)
When it comes to light exposure, Aloe plants (Aloe Barbadensis) need at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight to continuously thrive. However, be cautious because immediately moving an aloe plant from a shady area to direct sun can cause an aloe plant to dry out too much and turn its leaves yellow. So consider placing them in a location that offers bright, indirect sunlight (or, artificial light).
Since Aloes are succulents that are prone to root rot when left sitting in water for too long, it is recommended to use sandy soil with a neutral pH. But a cactus potting mix or a regular soil that has been amended with additional perlite or building sand is also a great choice for this plant.
Aloe can handle drought well, but prefers to be watered regularly, allowing the soil to dry out completely between waterings. If the plant is left dry too long, the leaves will shrivel and pucker slightly. They will recover when watered, but prolonged stress, either too much drought or too much water, will cause the leaves to yellow and die.
Do not give the plants any supplemental water during the rainy season. Most aloes go dormant in the winter and won’t require any water at all, provided they received sufficient water during the growing season. If your climate is rainy during the winter, consider planting your aloe in gravel or stones. They will allow the water to run off.
Temperature and Humidity
Aloe Vera does best between 55 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, but will tolerate 40 degrees Fahrenheit. It cannot tolerate frost.
Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis) does not require a high soil fertility. Feeding once a year, in the spring, with a houseplant fertilizer should be sufficient.
If the outer leaves of your Aloe Vera plant(Aloe Barbadensis) get brown tips, it's time for some pruning. Using clean garden shears, you can decide to simply cut off the affected area of the leaf, or prune the entire leaf altogether, close to the base of the plant. This will encourage new growth. Never prune leaves in the center.
Pests and Diseases
Aloe Vera(Aloe Barbadensis) attracts mealybugs, scales, and mites. Wipe mealybugs away with a soft cloth, after spraying the plant with water. For scales, whip up a mixture of 1 tablespoon insecticidal soap and 1 cup isopropyl alcohol mixed with 1 cup of water; spray scales with this solution every three days for 14 days. For mites, prune out infected tissue to keep this plant, and your other aloes, safe from harm.
Varieties of Aloe Vera to Try in your Garden
Aloe ‘Lime Fizz’
an unusual, compact plant with orange, raised markings on the sides and edges of the leaves. Height x Spread: 15cm x 30cm
Aloe Arborescens (torch aloe)
a large aloe, with rosettes of succulent, toothed, sword-shaped leaves, from which tall, torch-like red flowers – similar to red hot poker – appear in summer. H x S: 4m x 2m
Aloe ‘Red Sparkler’
bronze-green leaves heavily spotted white, with small white teeth around the leaf edge. In summer tall, slender, white-tipped pink flowers appear. H x S: 30cm x 30cm
Aloe Polyphylla or spiral aloe
a sought-after aloe that has beautiful foliage in a spiral shape. This is an unusual aloe in that it needs more water than other varieties and can survive temperatures that go below freezing. Grow in a pot at a slight angle to aid water run off, or on its side in a stone wall. H x S: 50cm x 50cm
How to Harvest Aloe Vera
Besides providing pretty decoration, aloe leaves contain a clear gel that's a popular home remedy. According to the Mayo Clinic, this substance may shorten the healing of first- and second-degree burns and promote wound healing. Applying aloe gel to the skin could also help reduce acne and redness caused by mild to moderate psoriasis. However, the Mayo Clinic does not recommend ingesting aloe as eating too much could cause kidney damage.
With this in mind, you can snip off an aloe leaf (as close to stem as possible) when you need it and rub the juicy end on a sunburn or sore spot.
Some people also like to use Aloe Vera juice as a hair conditioner, makeup remover, or even brow gel. While there's no guarantee it'll work as well some of your favorite products, you can get more of the juice by slitting the spike lengthwise and scooping out the contents with a spoon. As long as your plant stays healthy, it'll just keeping making more!