How to Plant and Grow Aloe Vera
There are 180 different species of Aloe plants, but the one we grow as a houseplant is Aloe barbadensis. It is not picky or hard to keep when given proper care, which means to give it conditions that most closely match where it grows naturally. They originate from Africa, so you can imagine they need a lot of sun, for example.
They are a succulent plant, which just means it likes to suck up extra moisture that it can store for future use. You can tell this when you feel the leaves, they are plump and juicy so to say. Aloe Vera has been used as a medicinal plant for over 6000 years for a large variety of ailments that include anything from hair loss to ulcers to constipation. It is mainly used today in homes to treat burns, insect bites and small cuts. It feels cool and soothing when applied to these types of minor injuries. Follow these easy steps to plant and grow Aloe Vera in your home.
Have you ever used Aloe Vera to treat minor cuts and wounds?
How to Plant Aloe Vera
Make a special soil mixture for your aloe by mixing a good quality all-purpose potting soil with sand – about 50/50 is good. Fill up a pot with the soil to about 1 or 2 inches from the top – only use the kind of pot that has drainage holes in the bottom or you run the risk of your plant developing root rot. Set the pot onto a tray if it doesn’t already have one of those removable trays attached to the bottom of it. Pour water over the surface of the dirt until the water runs out of the bottom of the pot. Discard the extra water.
Dig a hole that is as deep as the root system on your Aloe Vera and just as wide. The root system is pretty shallow on this plant so you shouldn’t have to go too deep. Make sure that only the roots are under the soil because the leaves will rot under ground and this can be fatal to the plant.
Place the roots into the hole you made and spread the roots so that they face outward rather than down. Pack dirt around the roots until the plant is firmly in place and can stand upright without support but be careful not to tear the roots while you do this.
How to Care for Aloe Vera
Water – only water your Aloe Vera when the soil is completely dried out and then give it a good soak; always dump out the extra water after 10 minutes. In the winter you will want to water it a little less frequently because it isn’t growing as much.
Sun – keep your Aloe Vera in full sun to partial shade.
Fertilize – use a bloom type fertilizer that has a strength of 10-40-10 during the spring and summer when you see it is growing. Discontinue feeding during the fall and winter.
Re-pot – transplant it to a pot that is about 2 inches larger in the spring when you see that it is getting root bound.
Offshoots – also known as ‘pups’, you need to remove the baby plants and put them in their own pot when they are about 3 to 4 inches tall. Do this by dumping all of the plants out of the pot. Use a clean and sharp knife to cut the offshoots off where they join the mother plant and remove dead and dying leaves while your at it. Leave them all out of the dirt for a few days until the wounded area is scabbed over and dried out looking. It is then safe to re-pot each plant into its own pot, you can put the original plant back into its original pot.
Cut outside leaves of Aloe Vera to use for medicine.
Aloe Products for You
Aloe Vera in the Garden
You can keep your potted Aloe Vera outside during the summer months, just be careful to bring it inside for the winter before the first frost hits your area. It can be grown in your garden permanently in USDA zones 10 to 11. To plant it out there, just follow the same steps as outlined above by amending the area with the potting mixture three feet wide and three feet deep before you plant it.
© 2012 Lanie Robinson