The aloe vera plant has become incredibly popular. It’s a very easy plant to care for, making it a staple in many homes. A large part of aloe vera’s popularity can be attributed to the fact that it boasts a wide range of natural health properties.
These versatile plants are known for their ability to thrive under virtually any conditions, as they grow equally well indoors and outdoors with minimal care. Scientifically named aloe barbadensis miller, it’s one of the best plants for someone who is new to gardening or interested in growing their own super foods!
Growing Your Own Aloe Vera
When you first get started with growing your own aloe vera, the most important things to consider are the soil and location of the plant. First, decide where you will be growing your aloe vera. Whether indoors or outdoors, it is imperative that you choose a place where your plant will receive plenty of light.
It is also important to note that aloe can freeze in the winter if outside, so keep your local climate in mind when choosing where you want to place your plant. If the plant is to be grown indoors, make sure the plant will receive enough indirect sunlight; south or west-facing windows are ideal.
Once you’ve decided where your aloe vera is going to live, it’s time to begin thinking about the soil. Aloe vera likes dry soil, so I recommend using cactus potting soil mix. The best alternative would be to use a regular potting soil with perlite added. When planting your aloe vera, make sure to position the plant so it is upright, and cover the base and roots with the soil.
It’s also important to choose an appropriate planter. Start with a medium to large planter and make sure it has good drainage. Planters with a single large hole in the bottom are best, as your plant will not grow if there is standing water. In fact, one of the most common issues new plant owners run into when trying to care for aloe vera is that they overwater the plant. When watering, the soil should feel damp but not soaked.
The best way to gauge watering is to feel the plant leaves every few days, as long as they feel cool or moist, the plant has enough water. If the leaves feel dry or brittle, first examine the sunlight conditions, then adjust water as needed. Before you water again, the soil should be completely dry. During cooler months, it will need less water.
Harvesting Leaves from Your Aloe Vera Plant
Once your plant reaches maturity, you can begin to harvest aloe for its nutritional benefits. It’s safe to begin this process once additional leaves or shoots have grown from the center of the plant. To harvest leaves from your aloe vera, start by selecting mature leaves from the outermost section of the plant.
Cut them from as close to the base as possible, but be mindful not to disturb the roots. Because it’s a living decoration, I would suggest selecting plant leaves that will not reduce the plant’s aesthetics.
The plantlets or “babies” your aloe produces can easily be removed by carefully uprooting them, detaching from the parent, and re-planting on their own. These mini plants make great gifts. It’s not uncommon for aloe plants to repopulate exponentially, so there’s a good chance that you will have plenty of aloe before you know it!
Additional Considerations for Your Aloe Plant
Caring for your aloe vera plant is not difficult. There are, however, a few considerations to keep in mind:
- Aloe does not need to be fertilized. If you want to, or think it needs a little extra food, use a phosphorus-heavy, water-based fertilizer at half-strength.
- If the leaves become thin and curled, it needs more water.
- Aloe vera leaves grow upward from the base. If the leaves droop or lie flat, it probably needs more sunlight.
- Your plant will grow towards the sun, if in a pot, rotate as needed to keep the plant leaves upright.
If your aloe grows slowly, here are a few common issues to check:
- The soil is too alkaline. This can be corrected by adding a bit of soil sulfur.
- The plant has too much water, the soil is too damp, or it holds too much water. This can be corrected by modifying the amount of water added to the plant.
- It needs more sunlight. This can be remedied with a simple change of scenery.
- It has too much fertilizer. In this scenario, you can simply repot the plant with more soil.
- The plant needs a bigger pot for its roots. Eventually, all healthy aloe vera plants will probably reach this point.
Getting Something in Return from Your Aloe Vera Plant
The aloe vera plant isn’t all about looking good and adding beauty to your home. Many people enjoy the many uses of the aloe vera plant. One of the most common is using aloe vera’s inner leaf gel as a topical remedy for burns and sunburns, cuts, and other skin irritations.
This inner-leaf gel can also be consumed for collagen support, as a digestive aid, its immune supporting properties, and many other superfood benefits.
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