If you’ve mastered tree planting or even garlic and chillies planting, then it’s time for the next step! Aloe Vera is a plant with countless virtues that has been used for millennia around the world. Used in both health care and cosmetics, aloe vera is sometimes considered a magical plant capable of solving all physical or psychological ailments. Did you know that aloe vera comes in over 300 varieties, but only “Aloe Barbadensis” has healing properties?
It has dense, succulent leaves that have a watery gel to plump them up. The leaves have jagged edges and flexible spines and emerge in a rosette from the plant’s base. It’s a succulent plant that overgrows, taking three to four years to mature. The spiky flowers, which come in yellow, red, and orange shades, grow on tall stalks. It can take years for an aloe plant to produce a flower stalk as a houseplant, and young ones rarely flower. But there are plenty of reasons why you’d want an aloe vera in your home!
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Things you need to know about aloe vera
What are the virtues of “Aloe Barbadensis“? Many people are familiar with aloe vera’s medicinal and therapeutic effects.
- Aloe vera gel can now be used in a wide variety of products, including skincare, haircare, drinks, vitamins, and food.
- You can use the gel from your aloe vera to treat minor burns and wounds, as well as make your soaps, lotions, and other skincare products.
- Another great advantage of growing aloe vera as an indoor plant is that it helps purify the air in your home.
How to care for your aloe vera plant
Good news! Aloe vera plants are very easy to grow even in pots. There is not much to do, and guess what – your aloe vera will do just fine even if you ignore it. Some would say they grow on neglect. However, there are a few things you must do to ensure that your aloe vera continues to thrive. Proper watering and light are the two most critical aspects of aloe vera care. For more tips on how to take care of yours, how to repot it and how to deal with tiny pests, keep reading!
1. Give your aloe vera plant enough sun and warmth
One of the most critical growth factors regarding the care of aloe vera plants is good light. If they do not receive enough light, they will not flourish as you would like them to. If you grow aloe vera indoors, choose a facing window place or another sunny spot in your home.
If you wish, you can move your potted aloe vera to a sunny spot outdoors during the summer months. Be very careful though. An aloe plant that has grown all winter indoors will be sensitive to direct sunlight. So be sure to acclimatize your plant to the sun slowly, or the leaves could get a sunburn. Do you live in a hot climate zone? Plant your aloe outdoors and choose a place with indirect sunlight. Aloe vera generally prefers 6 to 8 hours of indirect sunlight per day. Even if they grow better in hot or even very hot temperatures, they can survive colder seasons as well.
2. Make sure they get enough water, but not too much
The most common mistake that people make when it comes to maintaining aloe vera plant is too much watering. In the wild, aloe usually grows in desert climates where they receive no rain. These succulents can hold water in their leaves to survive a very long time without the need for more. Excessive watering will cause root rot and eventually rot the plant’s stem, killing it entirely from the bottom to the top.
In summer, aloe vera plants like to be watered more than during the winter months, but they will not tolerate being over-watered at any time of the year. It is best to let the potting mix dry between watering sessions. Push your finger about 7cm into the ground to make sure it is dry. When it’s time, water your plant, letting all the excess water flow through the bottom if it’s planted in a pot.
If you are having trouble watering plants, you can use a soil moisture gauge to determine when to water your aloe vera. If you had repotted your aloe, wait two or three days before watering. Roots need time to adapt to the new soil before taking on water. If in doubt, water less, not more. Better wait a few more days if you’re not sure. Remember that overwatering can lead to fungus problems, so it’s essential to avoid this.
3. Fertilise the soil of your aloe vera during the growing season
Fertilising aloe vera plants isn’t essential. They can, however, benefit from being fed during their active growth phase, as most plants do (spring to summer). You can use organic plant fertiliser rather than chemicals, especially if you intend to harvest the gel and use it.
Aloe vera plants react well to a general-purpose organic fertiliser. Compost is also a great choice. You can buy pre-made compost, or you can make your homemade one. In the winter, aloe plants go dormant and don’t grow much. So, during the fall and winter months, don’t fertilise them. Fertilise your aloe vera a few times during the growing season to encourage flower development. Although they may flower, it is rare to see an aloe vera flower on plants that grow indoors.
4. Watch out for insects that are harmful
Healthy plants such as aloe vera rarely have problems with pests, but sometimes you need to be careful, especially when it comes to mealybugs. These insects are flat and brown or tanned, and they like to suck the sap from aloe.
If you notice that some insects have invaded your aloe vera, be sure to treat them using biological pest control methods. Toxic chemical pesticides don’t always work on the pests of houseplants, let alone that they are awful for our health! For small pest infestations, dip a cotton swab in alcohol and use it to remove insects. Insecticide soap or a spray of horticultural oil also works very well to control pests’ most significant outbreaks. But beware, aloe can be sensitive to certain sprays. So be sure to test everything you use on a small part of a leaf before spraying the whole plant.
5. Repotting the aloe vera if necessary
Generally, the aloe plants we buy are often in small, fragile plastic pots. To promote the growth of aloe and ensure that it lasts for years, you will have to put in some efforts to find the right pot for your plant. If you are repotting your aloe vera, be sure to use a container with drainage holes in the bottom. Terracotta or clay pots are the best ones and can help you avoid overwatering. As for the soil mix, the best soil for aloe vera is the one that drains very quickly and does not retain water. Make your succulent soil using a mixture of perlite or pumice and ordinary soil, which tends to be cheaper than buying commercial potting soil.
Finally, always spread pebbles over the ground all around aloe vera plants. It helps retain moisture and replicate the natural environment of aloe. For aloe vera propagation, please remove the tiny aloe new plants, which grow from the main plant, while being careful not to break the roots.
Tips for caring for your indoor aloe vera
Most people’s issues with aloe vera have to do with either too much light or too much watering. To prevent any issues, make sure you are familiar with all of the tips mentioned above. Here are some other common problems:
1. The leaves turned yellow
Leaves that are yellowed or “collapse” suffer from excess water. Stop watering for a week (or two during the dormant season). Make sure the base of the stem has not had time to rot. You might be able to save your plant if the rot has only just started and the majority of the stem is still solid and stable. However, we must act quickly. Try to disperse the rotting part of the stem by cutting it just above it. If you don’t cut it off it will just keep spreading.
2. The leaves turned brown
The first thing to do is check the stem of the plant to make sure it is firm and healthy. If the stem looks good, check the brown leaves to see if they are soft or dried. Cut the soft leaves where they are attached to the stem. On the other hand, if the leaves of your aloe dry out and fade, it means that they are too dry (yes, it is possible to under-water an aloe vera !). Water the aloe vera more frequently.
3. The plant is long and thin
This means that your plant does not have enough light. So, you should increase sun exposure. Aloe vera leaves should grow upwards or outwards angularly towards sunlight. Give it more light, preferably in a facing window place.
How to maintain your aloe plant
Like we discussed before, aloe vera is an impressive plant, not only due to its many benefits for the health but also from an aesthetic point of view. And like you have seen before, it’s rather easy to get and grow one at home. Here are the best ways for you to maintain your plant in winter or summer:
- The pot in which your plant is installed must be wide enough, but shallow, made of terracotta.
- The pot must also be easily moved, so you can get it out when it’s hot or tuck it in when it’s cool. It’s best to put it on wheels to make it easier for you to move it around.
- If your plant needs to be placed indoors, put it in a place where it will receive as much light as possible. However, avoid putting it where it is really hot in the summer.
- It is better to keep this plant at a temperature of 18 to 24 degrees Celsius, this is why it is an excellent indoor plant.
- The soil used to plant your aloe vera must be nutritious. Mix perlite and potting soil.
- It is strongly advised that the roots of the plant are never in permanent contact with water, which is why the soil used must offer easy drainage.
- When it is very cold or it rains, protect your plant by covering it.
- Water every 15 or 20 days, directly to the base of the plant.
If you don’t have one, you should definitely get an aloe vera ! Check out your nearest garden centre or order one online and you won’t be disappointed! Aloe vera is a simple plant to grow and thrives in arid conditions. Once you master these simple maintenance techniques, your plant will grow all year round.