Aloe Vera, is no doubt, one of the most beneficial plants you can grow at home. This is not only thanks to its aesthetical value and versatility of use but also because the plant offers unmatched medicinal properties. These can save you a trip to the doctor and at the same time.
A low-maintenance plant that requires little care or attention, Aloe Vera can be grown in almost any room of your home. You can even carry one with you while traveling in a plane or car for relief from minor burns and other skin irritations. This makes Aloe Vera an excellent subject for your first gardening project.
So how can you grow aloe Vera? It prefers full sun but can also grow indoors with artificial light and moderate water. Aloe Vera plants need soil that drains well, so it’s best to plant them in containers. It does not require much care, nor requires any special lighting or watering conditions. Just provide it with full sun exposure and water regularly.
This article will be looking at the simplest way of growing Aloe Vera at home. This is especially for those who are just starting out and do not want to spend too much on a complicated gardening project.
Interesting Facts About Aloe Vera
- It is native to Africa and does not grow naturally in any other parts of the world.
- It is also known by many different names such as, Aloe Barbadensis Miller, Aloe Vera Officinalis Elles, and Aloe Ferox Mill.
- The gel from an aloe plant contains polysaccharides and high levels of enzymes that improve immune function. These compounds are also found in gums, milk and honey.
- Aloe can live for over 200 years.
- Although the media has been touting its many health benefits, Aloe Vera is also a powerhouse when it comes to beauty care. It is used in cosmetic products, aromatherapy as well as in household cleaners and personal care items.
- The main components of aloe vera gel, are polysaccharides, which help increase the body’s immune function and antibodies.
- Aloe Vera has been used by many civilizations including Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. The name came from Arab traders who brought the plant to North Africa. The Spanish first encountered it in the 1500s, when they invaded parts of Mexico and Central America.
- Aloe vera plants are capable of growing to six feet tall, but the average height usually ranges from one to three feet. The plant remains small if continually cut back or when grown indoors.
Aloe Vera Propagation
Aloe Vera propagation is quite easy. There are several methods that you can use to grow a new aloe vera plant and it only requires minimal care or attention.
Aloe Vera Propagation Method #1 – Branch Cutting
This is the easiest method of growing Aloe Vera at home. Take off a branch from the mature plants (between 3″ to 6″) and cut it at an angle. Some people like using this method because of the nice designs on the leaves, while others do it to bring a bit of green indoors or simply because they have too many plants already.
Caring for aloe vera cutting is easy too. All you need to do is to put the tip in water and make sure that it does not dry up. After a couple of weeks, you will find out a new plant growing from the tip and eventually take over the pot.
Because this is a hardy plant, you can use this method for indoor gardening when space is an issue or even if you’re using artificial light indoors. It is also a great way to propagate a plant without having to bring in new soil and risk spreading disease.
Aloe Vera Propagation Method #2 – Stem Cuttings
You can also use this method when you want to increase the size of your aloe vera plants or simply want more of them to grow indoors. All you need is a clean, dry and sharp pair of scissors. Cut the stem at a 45-degree angle, about 3-6 inches from the plant base.
Cutting aloe vera is as easy as that! Just place it in water and make sure that it does not dry out. Within a couple of weeks, you will see new branches growing from the tip.
Aloe Vera Propagation Method #3 – Offsets
One way of increasing the size of your aloe vera plant is through offsets. This method is best if you want to grow them in pots or containers, especially if they are indoor plants. Aloe veras can also be propagated using this method and here’s how to do it:
1. Locate the stalk of the plant that grows directly from its center. The side branches should be growing out from this main stalk.
2. Cut the main stalk just below a lateral branch and place it in a small pot with sandy loam soil. Make sure that you keep the cutting about two inches above ground level.
3. Water the entire plant and place it in an area where it can get partial sunlight for about six hours a day. When you water your aloe vera, make sure that it does not overflow because its roots are sensitive to overwatering or underwatering. You should also check periodically on the cutting by removing the soil that has accumulated on top.
4. If you notice that the cutting has rooted, then it is ready to be transplanted into a bigger pot.
Aloe Vera Propagation Method #4 – Spreading Roots
Because Aloe Vera plants are succulents, they have spreading roots which can be used to propagate other plants at home. It is not only easy to do but also a great way to increase the size of your plants.
The best part about propagating aloe vera using this method is that they can grow anywhere.
Aloe Vera Propagation Method #5 – Air Layers
This is another method that you can use if your aloe veras have spreading roots or rhizomes. If you have one, then here’s what you need to do:
1. You will need a shallow container like a yogurt cup and two or three inches of sandy loam soil.
2. Hollow out the center of the aloe vera plant and put a few drops of rooting hormone into it. You also need to put a little water in it too so that the hormone will be more effective.
3. Cover the hole with plastic and push down gently until you see new roots sprouting from the sides.
4. Put the plant into a bigger container after you remove the plastic and make sure that it gets partial sunlight for five to six hours every day.
5. After about three weeks, your aloe vera will be ready for transplanting!
Aloe Vera Propagation Method #6 – Leaf Cuttings
This is the easiest and fastest way to grow aloe vera at home, but you can only use this method if your plant has leaves with new growth. Here’s how to propagate an aloe vera using this method:
1. Cut a leaf from the plant and trim one inch off of it. Make sure that the rest of the leaf does not have any brown spots.
2. Push the cut end down in a pot filled with sandy loam soil and water it well. You should also place the plant in an area where it can get partial sunlight for six hours a day.
3. Remove any loose parts on your aloe vera after one month and you will see roots growing from the stem. The plant is now ready to be transplanted into a bigger pot!
Aleo Vera Fertilization Guide
Since Aloe Vera plants are succulent in nature, they need a special kind of fertilization program. It is recommended to use a mineral-based fertilizer that does not contain nitrogen because it can cause the plant to produce soft growth, which makes them more susceptible to disease and pests.
Here’s how often you should give your Aloe vera the right amount of fertilizer:
• If your plants are young and growing then you need to fertilize them every week. Use 1/2 tablespoon of calcium nitrate plus one-fourth cup of Epsom salts.
In containers, use enough water so that the entire potting media is moist but not soggy. You also want to make sure that you fertilize your plants between 1/2 to 1 inch below the soil surface.
• If the plant is in a pot for more than six months then you should feed it once every three weeks by using ½ tablespoon of 10-10-10 fertilizer mixed with one-fourth cup of Epsom salts. You can mix it with water and pour it on the top of the soil.
Aloe Vera Watering Guide
Watering an Aloe Vera plant is easy and straightforward. You just have to make sure that the soil does not become too soggy or dry otherwise you might end up killing your plants.
Aloe Vera Watering Schedule
The frequency of watering aloe vera depends on a few factors, like:
• The size of the pot – If you are using pots that hold more than 15 gallons of soil, then you should water your plants every other day. However, if the container is smaller than 10 gallons, then you should only water it once a week.
• The light exposure – If the aloe vera plant gets too much sunlight (more than six hours) then it needs to be watered more often than if it is in a shady area.
• The weather – If you live in areas where there is not much rainfall, then you should water your plants once or twice a week. However, if it rains frequently from spring to early summer, then the plant will require less watering during this time.
The best way to know when your Aloe Vera needs water is to take a look at the soil. If it’s still wet from the last watering, then there is no need to give it more water. However, if the top of the soil feels dry to touch and doesn’t stick together easily then you should give it some water.
Transplanting/Repotting Aloe Vera
Transplanting or repotting aloe vera can be done any time of the year, as long as you follow a few simple steps.
• Make sure that your plant doesn’t have too many roots yet before transplanting – This is important because if it has too many roots then it might not survive.
• Find a pot with the same size or slightly bigger than the one your plant is currently in.
• Fill the pot with a mixture of potting soil and fine sand – The right ratio is 3:1, where potting soil makes up two-thirds of the volume and fine sand makes up one-third. It is best to use a bagged commercial potting mix rather than making your own so that you can be sure that it contains no chemicals.
• Make sure that the pot is deep enough for the roots to be covered by 1-2 inches of soil after transplanting – The plant will not grow as well if its roots are exposed. Plant it so that the top edge of the root ball is slightly below surface level.
Common medicinal properties of Aloe Vera
One of the great things about having your own aloe vera plant is that you’ll always have access to fresh aloe vera gel for medicinal purposes. You can use this wonderful substance directly from the leaf or you can make it into various products such as creams, lotions, ointments, and gels. Fortunately, there are many uses for aloe vera and its benefits include everything from treating burns, to soothing bug bites and softening dry skin.
This wonder plant is considered to be a very effective medicinal herb. According to studies, aloe vera contains more than 200 biologically active compounds which can help the body fight off disease and promote good health. Some of these components include:
• Antioxidants – They reduce free radical formation in the body and neutralize harmful chemicals that are produced as part of carcinogenic metabolism.
• Polysaccharides – These are complex sugars that can help boost the immune system. They also contain anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties which makes them excellent for treating digestive problems, ulcers, colitis, and asthma.
Today, aloe vera is used to treat a wide range of conditions. It has been effective in treating everything from acne to cancer. It also helps in the digestive process and promotes a healthy cardiovascular system.
Best Aloe Vera Varieties to Grow at Home
There are many varieties of Aloe Vera plants, but only a few are the best ones that you can grow at home. Here is a list of some popular species:
Aloe Vera Varieties for Sunlight
As mentioned earlier, Aloe Vera plants require plenty of sunlight to thrive. If you live in an area with more than six hours of direct sunlight per day then you should grow these Aloe Vera varieties:
• ‘Dorothy Lael’ – This is an attractive cultivar with golden leaves that has excellent medicinal properties. It also features soft, sword-like foliage and makes a great ornamental plant in your garden.
• ‘Orange Frost’ – As its name suggests, its leaves are bright orange and it produces clusters of flowers that are a striking shade of yellow.
• ‘Zambia’ – It is native to East Africa and has long narrow red-edged green leaves. However, this species requires more sun than other Aloe Vera plants.
Aloe Vera Varieties for Shade or Partial Shade
If you live in an area with less than six hours of direct sunlight per day then the best low light Aloe Vera varieties for you are:
• ‘Baby Leaf’ – It features short compact rosettes that produce lots of new leaves. This variety is also very easy to grow and ideal for a beginner gardener.
Aloe Vera Varieties for Large Patios
These Aloe Vera varieties are very popular because they can grow up to 4 feet in height and width with ease:
• ‘Hercules’ – It features broad, deep green leaves and grows up to 9 inches wide. If you don’t mind a larger plant then this is the best variety for you.
• ‘Emerald Ripple’ – It features long, narrow green leaves and a height of up to 3 feet.
Aloe Vera can prove to be an extremely necessary plant for any succulent enthusiast, especially if you live in areas without much natural sunlight. You can grow a beautiful plant indoors or outdoors and be assured that it will thrive even under the least favorable conditions.
Since its growth and care are both straightforward, you can feel confident in your gardening attempts. Plus, aloe vera is also easy to propagate once you’ve learned how to grow it from cuttings, seeds, or even by division.
To get the best results, plant them in a sunny area with well-drained soil and plenty of room to grow. Remember that aloe vera plants are known for their exceptional drought resistance. Even after keeping it indoors, you can still expect your plant to thrive because of its ability to store water in its fleshy leaves.