Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera

Aloe barbadensis miller

Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels
Aloe cheat sheet
Growing
  • Use seeds or pups for planting.
  • Water carefully during germination.
  • Transplant to larger pot when necessary.
Caring
  • Sun Exposure – Bright / Indirect
  • Growing Medium – 50% sifted compost / 50% coarse, sharp sand or pumice
  • Watering – Heavy watering every 3 weeks or when 1 to 2 inches of soil are dry
Harvesting
  • Look for a rosy color on the tip of the leaf.
  • Don’t over harvest.
  • Leave the smaller leaves at the bottom alone.
Description/History

Aloe Vera is a succulent species that is originally from the Arabian Peninsula. It is commonly found as a house plant as well as used for medicinal purposes. Aloe Vera has been used by cultures all through time. Egyptian Queens Nefertiti and Cleopatra used it as part of their daily beauty ritual. Alexander the Great and Christopher Columbus used it to treat soldiers wounds.

Growing
  1. Start from seed or a pup from a mother plant.
    • You can start an aloe plant from a seed. The seeds are only produced on mature aloe plants that are around 4 years old.
    • Another way to start an aloe vera is to use what is called a pup. A pup also know as an offshoot, sister plant, or sucker. Pups are produced when a plant has an illness or is dying. They are also produced by healthy plants.
  2. Use a 50/50 mix for the pot that your aloe is going into. Use 50% sifted compost, and 50% coarse, sharp sand or pumice. Or you can check out University of Florida website for more potting mixes. The main thing to ensure when potting your aloe is to make sure drainage is optimal. There are a few premixed potting soils offered specifically for succulents(check them out on Amazon).
  3. If you are starting from seed, place the seed into a nursery tray 1 inch from other aloe plants. Lightly press the seeds, and cover with a very thin layer of sand. If starting from a pup, ensure the pup is the right size and has a good root system to support it self and harvest the pup from the mother plant. Using the same type of soil mixture as mentioned above transplant the pup into a new pot.
  4. Growing conditions – Aloe seeds require around 10 hours of sunlight while germinating. They also enjoy a comfortable 70° F (~21° C).
  5. Initial watering – Seeds you will only want to mist every so often once the top layer or sand is dried out. Don’t let it dry out completely for more than 6-8 hours but also don’t over saturate the sand. When using pups, just ignore them, avoid watering them for around 2 weeks until the new root structure is in place and setup. Watering too early can allow for fungal infections to occur.
  6. If you are growing seedlings, wait until the plant is able to support itself after a transplant, scoop the seedlings out using a spoon and place into individual pots. Water very sparingly until the root system is setup.
Caring for
  • Place the aloe plant in bright but indirect sunlight, recommend a western or southern facing window. Aloe can also be grown in artificial light.
  • Aloe can live in temperatures from 55° F – 80° F ( 13° C – 27° C). Growing an aloe plant indoors is ideal with temperatures from 60° F to 75° F ( 15.5° C – 24° C)
  • The growing medium for aloe plants is usually comprised of 1 part potting soil, 1 part sand. Adequate drainage is critically important to prevent root rot and fungal infections.
  • If your aloe plant becomes root bound, repot as necessary.
  • Water aloe plants heavily but infrequently. This will also help prevent fungal infections. Check the soil prior to watering, you want the top 2 inches to be dry. Usually every 3 weeks and during the winter water even less frequently.
  • If fertilizing is desired use 1/2 strength house plant fertilizer (No more than once a month). It is not recommended to fertilize during the fall and winter months.
Harvesting
  • Only harvest from fully matured plants, preferably one planted in the ground.
  • The tips of the leaves will attain a rosy color the leaf is ready to harvest.
  • Try to only harvest from larger leaves, while attempting to leave the smaller leaves around the bottom of the plant alone.
  • Don’t over harvest since aloe is a very slow growing plant.
  • Choose a thick, smooth, large leaf and cut it with a knife as close to the base as possible. It is not recommended to hand pick the leaves.
Uses
  • Heal burns, due to its cooling and moisturizing properties it is commonly used to assist in healing burns.
  • Improves digestive system health, based on a study in 2018 conducted with 151 people.
  • Promotes oral health, found to be more effective at removing candida, plaque, and gingivitis.
  • Clears acne, acne products made with aloe vera may be less irritating to the skin.
  • Relieves anal fissures, applying a cream to the affected area throughout the day can help improve pain, hemorrhaging upon defecation, and wound healing.

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