One of the most well-known plants in the world, these succulents are not only easy to care for they’re also amazingly useful around the home.
Their unique looking leaves are adorned with small spikes that get very hard as they mature. As such, it’s just as important to be careful when handling this lovely houseplant.
Read on to learn more about the aloe vera plant.
About the Aloe Vera
The aloe vera is one of the most well-known plants in the world. Most people know it because of its skin healing and soothing properties.
As a gardener, you’ll be happy to know that this succulent is also very easy to take care of. It is likewise relatively low maintenance which makes a good houseplant to have if you don’t want to spend a lot of your time accommodating to its needs.
Like most succulents, the aloe vera comes with thick, fleshy leaves which helps it store water for long periods of time. It’s also distinguishable thanks to its teethed leaves.
But, what many people don’t know is that there are more than 300 species of this plant. As such, you’ll see many different variations of it.
Aloe Vera Plant Care
The aloe vera plant enjoys bright, indirect light. And, it doesn’t enjoy being in constant direct sunlight.
In fact, too much of this will turn its leaves yellow as a result of it drying out.
This means that you can position it in the east, west, or south-facing windows as long as you keep it to the side or a few feet away from the opening. That way, the sun’s rays don’t directly hit it.
Because of its ability to help heal with burns, keeping it somewhere in or near the kitchen is a good idea. That way you can easily reach for it in case there’s grease splatter.
But, when doing so, keep it a few feet from the window unless the window is facing north.
Aloe vera is hardy in zones 10 and 11. You can likewise go down to zone 9, but be aware when the cold months come since the plant can only handle very brief periods of frost.
This is why you’ll often see it grown as a houseplant everywhere else.
Another option would be to take it outside during the warmer months and take it back inside once the mercury starts to drop. In this case, you’ll want to keep an eye out for nighttime temperature drops since they’re usually lower than that in the daytime.
In general, your aloe vera enjoys a fairly wide temperature range. Anywhere between 55 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit works well for it.
As such, it doesn’t have a problem living in most homes or living rooms.
Aloe vera plants don’t need a lot of water. More importantly, they don’t like having wet feet.
This is why it’s very important to use the right soil for them. Additionally, make sure that the container you use has a drainage hole that allows excess moisture to drain off.
When you do water it, it’s better to water deeply, but on occasion only. Once every 3 weeks or even less than that works.
A good rule of thumb to wait until the top 1 to 2 inches of soil dries out before watering.
That said, the aloe vera plant can go months without water. But you may notice the leaves shrivel.
If this happens, it’s a sign that it needs water. The good news is, once you give it that it will recover.
Outdoors, it’s likewise important to be aware of how much rainfall there is. That’s because it’s not consistent.
Needless to say, it’s not a good idea to water them during the rainy season.
Similarly, there’s no need to water during wintertime as the plant goes dormant.
Like other succulents, aloe vera plants are used to tropical and subtropical environments where it grows in dry, sandy areas.
Thus, they enjoy potting soil that’s well-draining. This makes a cactus potting mix a good option. Or, you can likewise use other mixes and add sand or perlite to it in order to improve its ability to drain any extra moisture.
Similarly, it’s a good idea to go with a porous pot like terra cotta. This allows air to get through. But more importantly, it helps the soil dry better as well.
The weight also helps keep the plant stable as it grows. This prevents it from tipping over as it gets bigger.
Aloe vera plants don’t require a lot of feeding. As such, it doesn’t even need very fertile soil to thrive.
This means you you don’t need to spend a lot of time or money on fertilizer.
All you need to do is feed on rare occasions. At most, you can do once a month during the spring and summer. But, you can likewise go as little as once a year during that time as well.
Using a balanced houseplant fertilizer diluted to half-strength will get the job done.
After you’ve had your aloe vera plant for a while, one thing you’ll notice is that it produces pups or offsets. These are essentially “babies” that you can remove to create a new plant of the parent.
As such, this is one way you can propagate this plant.
- Check your plant to find the offsets.
- Cut the offsets off with at least an inch of stem with it. You can use pruning shears or scissors. Either one works. But, make sure that it’s clean.
- Keep the trimmed off offset in a warm location that received indirect sunlight. The goal here is to allow the cut to heal (close).
- When that happens, pot the offsets into a container with a well-draining potting mix.
- Place the container in a bright location that doesn’t receive direct sunlight.
You’ll need to repot your aloe vera plant if it becomes root bound, leggy, or too big for its current container.
The good news is, it’s a simple process. But, you need to be careful with it and no jar it in any way. Here’s how:
- Choose a pot that’s one size bigger. If it’s an old pot or has been used for other plants, make sure to clean it and allow it to dry completely before using it again.
- Remove your aloe vera plant from its container.
- Clear away any excess soil and debris from the rootball. Be gentle so as not to cause any trauma to the plant.
- Fill the new pot with potting mix. You can measure how much soil to put underneath by placing the rootball side by side with the pot. The goal of which being to allow the plant to stand as high in the pot as it did in its previous container.
- Put the plant in, then fill the remaining space with soil.
Using Aloe Vera for Your Skin
As mentioned, one of the reasons why aloe vera is very well known is because of its medicinal use. More specifically, it’s the ability to help heal skin burns.
Here’s how to use it:
- Remove a leaf from the plant.
- Then, cut it open or break it. This will release the gel that’s inside it.
- You can squeeze the leaf to get more gel out.
- Apply the gel on your burn.
While its gel is soothing to the skin, you can only apply the plant topically. That’s because its toxic when eaten. As such, it’s important to keep it away from young children and pets.
Consumption can cause stomach issues including discomfort and nausea.