Aloes are flowering succulent plants. There are over 250 species of Aloes in the world, mostly native to Africa. The most commonly known is the Aloe vera.
I have several Aloe vera plants. I use the gel in the leaves on my dry skin. I bought one of my plants at a garage sale over the summer. It is a huge old plant that was in a teenie-tiny pot along with 5 large pups (you can see the picture below). Mama Aloe and her pups have since been repotted and are all doing great!
I enjoy my aloe vera plants so much that I thought I would share a few tips on keeping these easy to care for plants.
Guide to Growing Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is extremely easy to grow. Here are a few things to keep in mind while caring for your Aloe Vera plant:
- Choose a suitable pot. One that is four times larger than the root ball is a good size. Make sure the pot has a drainage hole.
- Aloe will grow in most soils, but a Cacti/Succulent potting mix is ideal. You can always mix in 1/3 sand to 2/3 potting mix as well.
- Do not over water your aloe! This is important, so let me repeat it… DO NOT OVERWATER! An aloe can go for months without water, but will rot if given too much. Allow the soil to become dry before giving the plant any water. During the winter the plant will become dormant and should need minimal watering.
- Keep your aloe in a partly sunny and warm location of the house. A few hours of sun is more than enough for an Aloe Vera plant. Sitting right next to a cold window can be harmful. Keep an eye out for darkened, shriveled leaves. You also do not want to place your plant near a heating vent. Try for a warm but even temperature.
- I always put my aloes outside for the summer. Introduce them to the sun gradually so they don’t burn. A week or so in the shade before moving to a partly sunny location will help prevent burning. Orange discoloration or brownish spots on the leaves is a sign of too much sun.
- Aloe Vera is cold hardy to about 45 degrees. Zones 8-10 can keep it outside. If you are in a colder zone take your plants in well before a frost, since even a light frost has killed off some of my younger aloes.
- You can fertilize once every two months. I use Miracle-Gro. Just follow the directions on the package.
- If you are harvesting the leaves you should use the outer ones first. If you don’t use the leaves very often, and the outer leaves start to sag and turn brown at the tips, you can cut or gently pull them off the stem. This will help the plant keep its shape.
How to Divide Aloe Vera
Aloe vera plants form offset pups and will eventually become a clump of plants. These plants need to be removed to keep your mama plant healthy. It is easy to tease out the small plants, and I can usually pull out my pups after they are 4-5” high. They have their own little root systems, so all I do is plop each one in a brand new pot and water them.
Sometimes the pups grow attached to the mama plant. If your pups are growing on your aloe plant you can slice them off. Let the cutting sit overnight so it has a chance to callus over. Put 1/3 of the cutting into the soil (cut end down). Do not water the cutting heavily. I usually mist it. Roots should start forming within a month. When you actually see it start to grow you can water it. Don’t worry if it shrivels a little in the first weak or so, that is normal.
Using Aloe Vera
I love to just open up the leaves and use the gel on my hands. It make a wonderful moisturizer for sensitive skin. You can also extract the gel and use it for a few months. Aloe vera gel is great for several skin issues:
- Speeds up healing on minor burns, rashes and cuts
- Great for sunburned skin
- Fantastic moisturizer
To make Aloe Ver Gel from your plant, follow these simple steps:
- Harvest several large leave from the outer edge of the plant.
- Stand each leaf upright on the inside edge of a bowl, allowing the sap to drain out of the leaf for 15 minutes.
- Lay your leaf flat on a cutting board. Cut off the tip of the leaf, as well as the serrated edges on both sides. Then slice the the leaf lengthwise.
- Use a spoon to scoop out the the slimy mucilage and the clear gel. Avoid scraping out the sticky sap.
- Store your aloe juice in the refrigerator. Use a glass or plastic container. It will keep for a month or so, but remember, aloe gel is best fresh.
I hope you enjoy growing and using your aloe plant as much as I have!
If you like this article, I’d appreciate your sharing this by voting for it on DIGG, Stumble, Shoutwire, deli.cio.us and other great sharing sites.