Did you know that Aloe Vera is one of the oldest botanical medicines used in history? The Ancient Chinese and Egyptians recorded its medicinal benefits for burns, wounds, and fevers. Aloe is closely related to succulents and cacti and is an easy plant to take care of. Having and Aloe Vera in your home is not only handy, but aesthetic as well! Brighten up your indoor (or outdoor) environment with this multifunctional plant.
Aloe Vera is a great beginner plant, because it requires little attention! Before watering your plant, make sure that there is 1-2 inches of dry soil. Aloe Vera only needs to be watered about every 3 weeks. During the winter months, it can be watered less frequently. Make sure to not let your Aloe sit in water – this could lead to rotting roots.
When finding a place for your plant, consider lighting. Aloe Vera needs bright indirect sunlight and will yellow if it is placed in direct sunlight. If you would like to place your plant outside, do it during May-September when the weather is warmer. If it gets cool at night, consider moving your plant indoors.
Prune your Aloe Vera plant to not only dispose of dead leaves, but to harvest its medicinal gel! If you notice your plants leaves are turning brown, pink, or yellow, simply cut off the leaf and dispose of it. If you plan to harvest your plant’s gel for medicinal purposes, do not prune more than one-third of your Aloe Vera.
If you want to propagate your Aloe, you’re in luck! Aloe Vera plants produce plantlets! Plantlets are miniature Aloe Vera clones that are easy to remove and repot. Simply find the plantlet and separate it from the mother plant using shears or scissors. Make sure to leave an inch of the stem on the offset. Let the offset sit out of the soil in indirect sunlight for a few days so it forms a callous over the area you cut (this prevents the plantlet from rotting). Once your Aloe’s callouses have formed, you can pot your plantlet in a standard succulent soil mix. Remember to wait a week before you water your new baby Aloe!
Much like cacti and succulents, Aloe grows best in dry conditions. Try choosing a cactus potting soil or a soil that contains perlite or building sand. Most importantly, make sure to use a pot with drainage holes. Aloe Vera do not grow well in wet soil.
Aloe Vera does not generally need to be fertilized, however; if you would like to add fertilizer to your care routine, try using a phosphorus or water based fertilizer at half strength (mix with water!). Don’t forget: Aloe is best fertilized once a year in the spring!
Signs of Unhealthy Plant and Ways to Bring it Back
Some common Diseases that occur in Aloe Vera plants are root rot, soft rot, fungal stem rot, and leaf rot. These diseases are usually sparked by overwatering your plant and can be identified by yellowing or soft, mushy leaves. If these issues begin to occur, remove leaves that look unhealthy or mushy and hold off on watering your Aloe until its soil has dried 1-2 inches deep. If you notice yellowing leaves and have been watering your Aloe properly, it could be due to the placement of your plant in direct sunlight. In case these issues continue to occur, consider repotting your plant in fresh succulent soil.
Although Aloe Vera has a variety of medicinal uses, it does contain low levels of toxicity that can trigger vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, depression, anorexia, tremors, and/ or a change in urine color in dogs and cats. If you have house pets, make sure to find a place to not only enjoy your new plant, but to also protect you pets!