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How to Grow and Care for Aloe Vera Plant

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If you are interest in growing aloe vera then read on! This guide teaches you how to grow aloe vera. At the same time, this includes information on how to care for aloe vera plant and some other valuable tips as well.   

Useful and attractive at the same time, aloe vera is one of the best choices for plants to be grown at home. Growing particularly well in warmer conditions, the aloe plant is a succulent that does not require much maintenance.  

The most common type of aloe vera found in people’s homes is the Aloe barbadensis. With its fleshy leaves that produce a gel with therapeutic effects, this member of the aloe family has been a staple in the field of cosmetics and medicine for thousands of years. Moreover, there are other species from the aloe family that make great additions to the decor.

Regardless of the variety of aloe vera chosen, it is a plant that is easy to care for and most of them can be used to treat sunburns and skin ailments. 

This is a complete guide on how to grow aloe vera. In addition, this guide also contains tips on how to care for aloe vera plant.      

How to Grow Aloe Vera: A Step-By-Step Guide 

Having a potted aloe vera for a houseplant is a great idea to boost the look of your home’s interiors. At the same time, it also functions as a self-regenerating first aid kit and a solution to many skin-related problems. 

It is always better to get an aloe vera cutting from the closest nursery and transplant it rather than looking for any other means to grow aloe vera. These are four simple steps to transplant the young aloe vera or ‘pup’, as they are called, to a container at home:   

Step 1: Choosing the right container 

Aloe vera does well in arid conditions with plenty of sunlight, but it can be grown indoors if the climate outside does not agree with the plant. While opting to place the aloe inside, care must be given to the kind of container chosen. Terracotta pots and pots made from other similar porous materials are ideal. 

A container with drainage holes at the bottom is the best since it lets out the excess water. This is a crucial criterion because aloe vera thrives in conditions with less water. Also, make sure the pot is as wide as it is deep, otherwise the plant will tip over once it grows a bit.

Step 2: Getting the right potting mix  

As mentioned previously, too much water can cause the aloe vera to wilt and rot away. Therefore, before potting the aloe plant, choose a mix that has good drainage. Ensure to stay away from using gardening soil for this plant. 

Pick a potting mix suitable for succulents. This can be made at home by mixing perlite, pumice, lava rocks, a bit of gravel, or a combination of all of these with regular potting soil. Apart from being cheaper than the commercial potting mix, this blend can also be altered according to the plant’s needs. 

Step 3: Planting the aloe vera 

Before starting with the planting process, make sure to rinse the container and line the drainage holes with some tissue paper. This prevents the soil from leaking out and removes the excess water content. Now, remove the plant from its current container and, without damaging the roots, brush off the excess dirt present on the root.  

Start by filling at least one-third of the pot with the potting mix. Place the aloe vera into this and continue filling the pot with the potting mix. Make sure to stop pouring soil around the plant as soon as the bottom leaves are just above the soil level. Also, remember to leave a minimum space of an inch or ¾ of an inch between the container’s rim and the top of the soil. 

Step 4: Temporarily ignore the plant

An important thing to remember while planting an aloe vera plant is to not water it immediately. In fact, do not water the plant for almost a week after planting. Doing so helps in lowering the risks of the appearance of rot. 

In addition, this period gives the plant a chance to put out new roots. To help the plant adjust to its new surroundings, place the pot in a warm spot with bright but indirect light. Once it appears as the plant has settled in the container, water the plant. 

Getting the Aloe Plant To Flower 

If the purpose of the aloe vera is purely decorative, getting the plant to flower will enhance its aesthetic value. When kept as houseplants, the chances of the aloe vera flowering is low. In order to aid the plant in producing flowers:

  • Make sure the aloe gets an ample amount of light. Slowly transferring the plant to a spot with plenty of sunlight during summers helps the aloe in flowering. 
  • Use the right amount of water for the aloe vera. Ensure that the soil in the pot does not completely dry out, at the same time, do not water the plant in excess either. 
  • Aloe vera plants bloom during early spring or late winter, hence periods of dormancy in between these seasons might lead them to give flowers. The duration of dormancy is characterized by lower temperatures and less frequent watering. 
  • Do not be disheartened even if the aloe does not bloom because the external conditions need to be near ideal for aloes to flower. 

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Tips on How to Care For Aloe Vera Plant 

Light 

Even though adapted for arid conditions, the aloe vera plant gets easily burnt under harsh sunlight. Hence, remember to place the potted aloe plant in spots with bright yet indirect light. If the plant needs to be placed under direct sunlight, make a slow and gradual displacement from the initial spot to the chosen place. 

Temperature 

The ideal temperature conditions for the aloe vera to flourish is between 55°F and 80°F. Since this is the temperature maintained in most indoor spaces, the aloe vera plant does not face many temperature-related problems. Remember to regulate the heat in the house if the surrounding temperature crosses the ideal conditions during extreme weather.

Water 

Special care needs to be given while watering the aloe vera plant. Often, too much hydration is the reason behind most aloe plants developing rot. Remember to check the moisture level in the soil with your fingers before watering the plant. Only water the plant infrequently but do not let the soil dry out completely. It is worth reminding that if the roots of aloe vera sit in soaked soil, they will start rotting. 

Fertilizers 

Aloe vera does not require many fertilizers. To encourage growth, using a balanced houseplant mixture at half its strength once in a while is suggested. For this purpose, fertilizers with low nitrogen, high phosphorous, and low potassium are advised. 

It is better to fertilize the aloe plant as the growing season or late spring begins. Additionally, in order to support good root growth immediately after transplanting, dusting the aloe vera stem in rooting hormone is recommended. Overusing these growth supplements will either wilt or rot the plant, or cause it to grow abnormally.  

Weeding 

The soil surrounding the aloe vera should be free from grass and weeds. Remember to regularly remove these if the aloe vera plant is placed outdoors. Be gentle while pulling out the weeds and grass from the area near the aloe so as to not upset the soil and damage the roots. 

Major Diseases To Look Out For 

  • The aloe family is especially prone to infestation by indoor pests like mealybugs and scales. This leads to the rolling of the infested leaves and stunted growth of the plant. Applying pesticides to the plant is the only solution in this case.
  • Fungus causes the root and/or the base of the aloe vera plant to turn reddish-brown. There is nothing much to do in this situation except to change the amount and quality of light and water available to the plant. In some cases, fungal diseases are fatal to the aloe vera plant.
  • Bacterial infection causes the leaves of the plant to turn watery and start rotting. These leaves turn darker in color and bulge due to the gas formed inside. 
  • Most ailments of the aloe plant, even bacterial infections, can be prevented by avoiding overwatering. Making sure that the aloe plant has ideal conditions of light, temperature, and water will eliminate most of the issues that aloes face.  

Propagating The Aloe Vera Plant 

When a healthy adult aloe vera has occupied its container to the maximum, the plant starts producing young ones or ‘pups’. These can be noticed easily, owing to their lighter green color and lack of spiny edges. Besides, these clones of the parent plant often share the same root system.

Before transplanting the pups, make sure that they reach at least 3 inches or 5 inches in height. If the conditions are favorable, allow the young ones to reach at least a fifth of the parent plant in size and develop some ‘true’ leaves and roots of their own. 

Before severing the pups from the parent aloe vera, make sure to clear the dirt from the point of attachment. Use a sharp knife to remove the young plant from the parent without causing damage to either. Also, sanitize the knife to avoid risks of infection and be sure to not damage the roots while cutting. 

It is not recommended to plant the cutting into the soil immediately. Therefore, leave the cutting exposed to air for a day or two. As a result, a callus forms over the cut surface and this decreases the chances of infection. After the callus is formed, the cutting can be planted as described in the How to Grow Aloe Vera section.   

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Tips on Harvesting Aloe Vera 

If the aloe vera plant is not grown for decorative purposes, knowing the right time and technique to harvest it is important. Improperly harvested aloe vera can cause diarrhea, nausea, and other allergic reactions when ingested.  

Your aloe vera is ready to be harvested when the tips of the leaves are ripe. This is indicated by their rosy color. Make sure to harvest the larger leaves first and since the plant shows a slowed growth, try not to harvest too many leaves in one go. 

Using a sharp knife to slice through the leaves smoothly is better than handpicking them. As a result, tissue damage to the leaf and the plant are minimal. Leaves harvested using proper technique and tools yield more gel and taste better when added to smoothies. 

After harvesting the leaves, they have to be carefully prepared before being used, as Aloin, a yellowish sap that occurs in the leaves of the aloe vera plant can upset the stomach. To prevent this, hold the cut surface down to let the aloin run out. This way pure aloe gel is obtained for use.     

Conclusion 

It is no surprise that the aloe vera plant has received so much attention, even since the time of Cleopatra. This low-maintenance succulent is the answer to skin conditions, sunburns, damaged hair, and can also be added to drinks. Apart from these benefits, the plant is a pretty accessory on the work table or in the kitchen.

It does not take someone with a green thumb to grow and care for an aloe plant. We hope this guide is helpful in your journey to raise a healthy aloe. Do share how it goes in the comments section below.      

Yet going through the basics of the gardening grind? Check out more on when and how exactly to begin planting a garden.

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