An Essential Guide to Growing and Caring for Aloe Plants
Aloe Vera Plants are famed for their ornamental beauty as well as their multitude of medicinal benefits. What’s great is these low-maintenance plants are very easy to care for and thrive in most living environments at home. This guide will take you through the fundamentals of Aloe plant care at home, including potting, soil considerations, watering, light preferences, temperature tolerances, and fertilizing needs.
- About The Aloe Vera Plant
- The Medicinal Benefits of Aloe Vera Plants:
- Aloe Vera Plants Symbolism & Meaning
- How To Grow Aloe Vera Plants
- How to Care for Aloe Vera Plant?
- Aloe Vera Plants Pests and Disease Considerations
- Essential Tools
About The Aloe Vera Plant
Aloe barbadensis, commonly known as Aloe Vera, is a medicinal shrub that has been in use for centuries. Aloe is a genus that has more than 500 species of flowering succulent plants. It is a thick, short-stemmed plant cultivated worldwide, mainly for ‘Aloe gel’ extracted from its leaves.
Best known for its topical medicinal uses, Aloe Vera has other therapeutic properties too. It is used to treat problems related to hair loss, hemorrhoids, skin injuries, wounds, skin scars, and other digestive issues.
The plant is often referred to as “lily of the desert,” “burn plant,” and “elephant’s gall.” With so many healing benefits, it is no wonder that Aloe Vera is also known as a “Wonder plant.”
Origins and History
The term “Aloe” has been obtained from the Arabic word “Alloeh” which means “shining bitter substance,” and “Vera” has been obtained from the Latin word “Veritas” which means “true.”
Aloe Vera is a succulent plant of the genus Aloe and has over 500 species. It originates from the Arabian Peninsula but grows widely in semi-tropical, arid, and tropical climates worldwide.
The Greek scientist honored Aloe Vera as the “universal panacea” while the scientists from Egypt named Aloe Vera as the “the plant of immortality.” Continuing the chain, various countries across the world use Aloe Vera to treat wounds, skin injuries, scars, burns, and also to reduce fever.
Aloe Vera Plant Family & Species
The botanical name of Aloe Vera is Aloe barbadensis miller. It belongs to a family of Asphodelaceae (Liliaceae). The growth of Aloe barbadensis miller mainly begins in the dry regions of Europe, America, Africa, and Asia.
According to the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, there are nearly about 580 species of Aloe. Also, most of the species are houseplants as they require very little care to grow.
Most Popular Varieties To Grow At Home:
- Aloe Barbadensis Miller, aka Aloe Vera:
The most popular type of aloe plant. The plant produces yellow flowers and has small white spots that disappear as the plant grows older.
- Aloe Aristata, aka Lace Aloe:
The second most common type, also known as Guinea Fowl Aloe, this deep green stemless succulent has white speckles. The plant grows small red-orange flowers and can grow up to 20 inches. It generally attracts insects, bees, and birds.
- Aloe Humilis, aka Spider Aloe:
The third most common type of Aloe plant, it has long triangular leaves with small white speckles. As a result, it grows to take the form of a rosette. What’s more, the plant grows yellow, orange, and red flowers.
The Medicinal Benefits of Aloe Vera Plants:
From skin injuries to skincare, Aloe Vera is a popular medicinal plant with therapeutic values. Aloe Vera gel, the extract of the plant, possesses an epitome of healing properties.
Have you ever wondered why there is so much more than just a favorite potted plant as household decor? With a long history, this succulent is in use for medicinal purposes for years now. We have penned down the most common uses of an Aloe Vera:
- Heartburn relief by supporting healthy digestion.
- A perfect answer to all the skin problems such as acne, pigmentations, and dehydration, it is also known to moisturize and hydrate the skin.
- Ensures a healthy immune system.
- Intensify antioxidant support.
- Boost the absorption of nutrients in the body.
- Decreases harmful toxins.
- Heal wounds and scars.
- Ease unusual muscle and joint discomfort
- Naturally balances stomach acidity.
- Balances the blood sugar.
- According to Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine’s recent studies, it is also the potential cure to fight breast cancer.
Aloe Vera Plants Symbolism & Meaning
Have you ever wondered why your favorite skincare ingredient has so much more than just healing elements and house decor? Every plant has some meaning and symbolism in them.
Speaking of Aloe Vera, it is widely known for its holistic properties and is super easy to grow. However, only a few know that the Aloe Vera plants bring good fortune to the house. Countries like Africa and other ancient cultures have a belief that Aloe Vera is the epitome of protection, good luck, and spiritual upliftment. That is why people believe that hanging an Aloe Vera at the entrances brings luck at home.
Also, it is said that the spiritual presence of Aloe Vera energizes the level of cleanliness and protects from evil spirits.
In the astrological world, Aloe plants are commonly associated with the zodiac star sign of Cancer.
How To Grow Aloe Vera Plants
Extremely low maintenance yet attractive and easy to grow, Aloe Vera adds charm to many home and office interiors. Also, it comes with various nutrients and advantages.
Key tips for planting Aloe Vera
While you decide to have a beautiful Aloe Vera plant at home or office, there are certain factors you need to check before actually planting it. Growing an Aloe Vera plant is easy, but there are a few tricks. Let us have a look at them in detail:
- The first thing you need to do before planting is to choose a suitable planter. Terra-cotta planters or any porous material are always a great choice. This is because it allows the soil to dry well and also keeps the plant safe.
- Be careful about the size and volume of the pot you choose. As a general rule, aim for a pot or planter that’s in proportion to the size of your current pot. A super small Aloe Vera Plant in a huge pot will be difficult to water. Conversely, a pot that’s too small won’t allow space for the roots to grow and aerate.
- The container should have at least one drainage hole to allow excess water to drain. If your planter doesn’t have drainage, simply place the growing pot (usually plastic) your Aloe Plant arrived in directly in the planter, and you’ll have a 2-pot system working.
- Aloe Vera plants are succulents. Thus, the Aloe Vera plants like very sandy soil while they grow. Using gravel at the bottom layer, a mixture of perlite, lava rock, coarse, and garden soil would be the best while potting Aloe Vera.
How to plant Aloe Vera
The attractive Aloe Vera can be potted in just a few simple steps. There is not much to do, but the things which are done have to be done carefully and correctly. The key steps to follow:
- Once you have finalized the pot concerning size, depth, and type, fill the pot with potting mix till a third of the way up. Then, place the plant in the soil mixture filled in the pot.
- After placement of the plant, continue filling the pot with the soil but leave at least 3/4th space between the soil and the rim of the pot.
- Now keep the plant in a warm place, receiving indirect bright light.
- Don’t water the plant for at least a week. Not watering the plant minimizes the chance of provoking rot and will give time to the plant to grow new roots.
How big will it grow?
Generally, the size of the Aloe Vera can grow up to 60–100 cm (24–39 in) tall. The leaves will get juicy, thick, and fleshy. It takes 3-4 years to grow the full-grown Aloe Vera plant with mature leaves.
Aloe Vera Plant Light Preferences
Since Aloe Vera doesn’t need much water, it does require plenty of bright and indirect light. Eight or more hours of bright and indirect light every day would do for growing Aloe Vera indoors.
How to Care for Aloe Vera Plant?
Aloe Vera Plants Watering Preferences
The Aloe Vera plant should be watered when the soil completely dries out. This will probably work out to every 7 to 14 days in spring and summer and less during the winter months.
Pour the water onto the soil near the base of the plant until the soil completely soaks. After about 30 minutes, let the pot fully drain, and then empty the excess water into a pot’s tray.
The plant tolerates drought well really well, so don’t be too concerned if you’re a bit late with your regular watering cycles.
Aloe Vera Plants Feeding Preferences
As mentioned earlier, the Aloe Vera plant needs very little attention and care to thrive. The plant is adaptable to poor desert soils and can live with fewer nutrients. Occasionally feeding fertilizers in the right amount would help the Aloe Vera grow faster and healthier. But you have to make sure that you do not overdo it, especially to the ones you grow in containers.
Feeding is considered best to be done in the growing season, starting in the Spring. For indoor Aloe vera plants, applying organic fertilizers once a month would be fine.
Pruning Aloe Vera Plants
Keeping the Aloe Vera plant in good shape is important. However, regular pruning is not required. In fact, frequent pruning poses a threat to the Aloe Vera plant.
The process of pruning should be done when you find that any part of the Aloe Vera leaf has turned pinkish brown. The leaves turning pinkish-brown is a sign that the part is dead, hence trimming off would help the remaining Aloe Vera stay green and healthy.
When it comes to trimming, make sure that you use a sharp knife or cutting shears, as the leaves of indoor Aloe Vera plants are small or medium-sized and can be a little tough to cut through.
You can propagate Aloe Vera in 2 different ways.
The first one is to propagate from the offset, which is an efficient way of propagating and shows better results. To propagate by offsets, separate pups by either with a sharp knife or plucking away from the parent plant. Either way, the pup should be cut or plucked with its root intact. After separating the pup from the parent plant, plant the pup in a pot. The pot should be watered, and the soil must be moist before planting the pup, as more water can kill the pup. The pot should be watered when the soil is dry. Soon the results of the propagating will yield.
The second way is to propagate from cuttings. This method is easier and faster to do but doesn’t always show the desired results. In this method, cut the Aloe Vera leaf and keep it to dry for about a week. Use rooting hormone at the tip after the week, and pot the plant. The soil must be moist. The plant will turn brown slowly and then grow if it works otherwise will turn brown and die.
Re-potting Aloe Vera Plants
Repotting is also essential when the Aloe Vera starts developing pups, and the plant is getting too big for its current pot or planter.
The process to repot is easy as all the steps have to be repeated just the way you potted the plant. However, you must be very careful while removing it from the current pot. Also, if there are any pups available, you should pull them from the central root mass.
Aloe Vera Plants Pests and Disease Considerations
Pest and disease considerations are a must for indoor Aloe Vera as they are majorly susceptible to indoor bugs like scale and mealybugs.
Common diseases include:
- Root rot
- Soft rot
- Fungal stem rot
- Leaf rot
Such diseases often happen because of overwatering.
The main problem with Aloe Vera plants arises from insufficient lighting or overwatering. Other commons problems you may run with Aloe Vera plants are:
- Mushy Stem– this happens when the base starts rotting due to overwatering. It can be treated by cutting the stem from the rotted section and re-rooting it.
- Brown Mushy leaves– Trimming is the best solution to treat brown mushy leaves. Also, slow down the watering.
- Dried brown leaves– Needs a little moisture. Trimming the dry leaves and little watering will fix the issue.
- Tall and Thin – Lack of light is the reason. Hence, moving to a sunny window would fix this issue.
- Brown leaf tips– Majorly caused by under watering, watering it in the right amount, and sufficient exposure to light would prevent it.
The basic tools required to plant an Aloe Vera plant are:
- A small shovel
- Knife or cutting shears
- Watering can
- Gardening gloves
There are various different species of ‘Aloes’ in the world, and Aloe Vera is undoubtedly the most well-known. An epitome of healing, the Aloe Vera plants also bring luck and spiritual value to the house. They are very easy and attractive to grow. Having one at home would bring luck, spiritual upliftment, and healing power. Do remember, the key to growing an Indoor Aloe Vera plant is – high light, and low water!
For more, see our in-depth guide to the best plant shops delivering Aloe plants nationwide.