The Aloe Barbadensis Miller, better known as the Aloe Vera plant has been around for thousands of years. It is definitely not an exaggeration to state that the Aloe is one of the most widely used plants for medicinal and cosmetic purposes. Let us see how to grow and care aloe vera plants.
These plants are not only fun to look at but also easy to care for. They grow well as both indoor and outdoor plants, look absolutely beautiful, and can grow quite large in size.
There are numerous benefits of growing the Aloe Vera at home and though extra special care and treatment are not required, we can explore certain dos and don’ts on how to nurture your plant just right.
How to grow the Aloe Vera plant
Growing and taking care of them is an easy task however planting them might get tricky. Unlike other succulent plants like the cacti, it is rather difficult to grow the Aloe Vera using just its leaf. The chances of the leaf taking root and growing into a healthy plant are quite slim, but not impossible.
The leaves have a lot of moisture and this tends to rot before they are able to form roots. Hence, it is advised to plant the Aloe using its offshoots.
The offshoots, or offsets, are also known as the plants ‘pups’ i.e., the babies of the parent plant. They are usually much smaller and brighter in color and have their own set of roots.
One must choose an offset that is several inches in height and has at least 4 leaves. In order to detach it from the main plant, you must remove the entire contents of the pot and locate the section where the pup is attached to the main plant.
Once you have identified this, you can cut the pup away from the main plant using a pair of clean sterilized scissors while ensuring that the pup still has its roots attached to it. Once this process is complete, you can put the main plant back into its original pot.
To plant your offset, you should start by mixing one part of potting soil with one part of sand in a pot with drainage holes at the bottom.
Dampen the soil just a little bit, before you plant the pup with its roots completely submerged into the soil. You must allow it to sit for a week before you start to water the plant.
This is the best and most reliable way to grow a successful Aloe Vera plant.
To plant your Aloe using its leaf, you should select a leaf that is a minimum of 8 centimeters long. Once you have cut the leaf off its main plant, you must leave it be in a warm dry place long enough for a layer to grow over the part that was cut.
This could take anywhere between 2 to 10 days. This layer will help keep the cut part from getting infected when inserted into the soil. You can dip the cut part into a spoon full of honey and ground cinnamon.
This works as an antiseptic and prevents infections. If your Aloe gets infected, it will not last or grow into a healthy plant.
Once you are ready with your cutting, take a small pot with drainage holes at the bottom. Fill it with cactus soil or a mix of potting soil and sand. It is advisable to first fill the bottom of the pot with gravel as this makes the drainage process even better.
Make a small hole on the top of the soil using a pencil or your fingers, and insert the cutting into this hole, tucking it tightly into the soil so that it holds and supports it upright.
Aloe Vera being a succulent plant is sensitive to overwatering, hence you must dampen the soil before you add the cutting into it. Do not add water until days later when the soil has dried up.
Hopefully, you will see the cutting taking root and if not, the plant with turn yellow and die. Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed success when it comes to replanting an Aloe Vera cutting.
Place the plant in a bright and dry spot with indirect sunlight and where the temperature is warm. All that is left to do beyond this point is to have the patience to wait and see the Aloe grow into an object of sheer beauty.
The above are a few tips to grow aloe vera plants in balcony.
Taking Care of Aloe Vera plant
Although the Aloe Vera is a sturdy and tough plant that does not demand too much attention, it is only fair to cater to its small and basic needs.
After we know how to grow aloe vera plants, let us now see how to take care of aloe vera plants.
The Aloe Vera plant cannot tolerate stagnant water. The plant itself is made out of 95% water. This is why it is advised to wait until the plant is completely dry before watering it again.
The watering needs depend on the temperature it is growing in. In the summer the plant might require weekly watering whereas in the winter once a month would do.
If the plant is placed outside in the summer, then it needs to be watered more frequently than a plant that is indoors and in a cool environment.
The most common reason for the Aloe Vera plant to wither and die is that it is watered too often or the water is not able to drain out completely.
The plant tends to go dormant during the winter month and hence does not require too much water then. In fact, it needs regular watering only in hot and dry weather.
The Aloe plant needs its daily dose of sunlight. Having said this, it can get stressed and dry out if exposed to too much strong and direct sunlight.
Hence it is important to provide your plan with indirect light irrespective of whether they are placed indoors or outdoors. Cold weather is quite detrimental to the Aloe Vera plant’s health.
It is best to plant the Aloe Vera in a succulent mix or cactus potting soil. You can make your own mix by adding regular potting soil that has been amended with additional perlite or sand making it quick-drying. This is very important.
The plant needs soil that is porous and drains quickly. It is imperative that the pot has plenty of drainage holes and adding gravel to the bottom of the pot can help with the process.
Bugs and Pests
While taking care of an Aloe plant, you must watch out for bugs and funguses. The use of natural and organic pesticides is recommended to keep pests, such as mealy bugs, aphids, and scales away. You can avoid fungus growth by simply ensuring that the soil remains dry.
If you notice any bugs, then you can wipe them off with a cotton swab dipped in ethyl alcohol. This will not only remove the existing bugs but also keep them from coming back.
Use of Fertilizers
On a general note, the Aloe Vera plant is an easy-going species and does not require to be fertilized.
However, if you really want to fertilize the plant, it does not outright reject this act of kindness. As part of your care routine, the Aloe Vera plant can be fertilized once a year during the spring season. You can use a phosphorus-heavy, water-based fertilizer at half its strength.
You can also dress your plant with a 1-inch layer of worm casting or use a balanced liquid houseplant food. Either way, you must be careful not to over-fertilize and never to feed your plant during the colder and darker months as the plant uses this time to rest.
Keeping an eye on its progress
Always keep an eye on and monitor the progress of your plant. They are nothing less than your babies. Watch their leaves to know how they are doing underneath the soil. The Aloe Vera leaves are great indicators of its overall health, and will instantly let you know about its needs.
Aloe Vera leaves should ideally be plump and must grow straight up. If you notice that the leaves are becoming thin and curly, give your Aloe Vera more water. If the leave has begun to droop, this is an indication that your plant needs more sunlight.
Pruning is not required in the Aloe Vera except to probably cut off flower stalks or to remove the fleshy fantastic leaves for extraction of its gel.
To sum it up, this “plant with a purpose” needs less water, more sun, and little to no fertilizer to thrive and provide us with N number of uses around our home.
With the above dos and don’ts, you need never be without this lovely and helpful plant. I hope you got an idea of how to grow aloe vera plants. Happy Gardening!
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I am Elsa, love gardening. I spent lots of time with plants, flowers, it gives me lots of happiness.
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