Aloe vera is one of the trendiest succulents to grow as houseplants. It is also widely prevalent in skin care and natural medicine. In this article, learn all about how to plant aloe vera and keep it thriving for many years to come.
Aloe vera leaves contain over 75 active compounds that have antiseptic capabilities and provide numerous health benefits. The most well-known are pain relief from minor burns, scrapes, and other wounds and promoting quicker healing.
It’s also helpful in treating canker sores and dental plaque buildup, lowering blood sugar levels, and slowing skin aging. However, some people experience adverse reactions to aloe vera juice.
There are over 300 different types of aloe vera. The most commonly grown variety is Aloe barbadensis miller, which is the only edible cultivar.
Native to the northern regions of Africa, Southern Europe, and the Canary Islands, aloe is now cultivated worldwide.
Tips and Tricks for Planting Aloe Vera
An aloe vera plant is easy to grow if you provide it with the proper environment. It needs well-draining, sandy soil and generally prefers dry conditions.
Since it’s a tropical succulent, aloe doesn’t tolerate temperatures lower than 40℉ and grows best between 55-80℉. In most climates, it’s best to grow aloes as indoor plants.
If desired, move your potted aloes to an outdoor space for the summer, then bring them back into the house when the weather gets too cold. In regions with mild winters, it’s possible to grow aloe outdoors year-round.
Like other succulents, it’s critical to let your aloe vera plant dry out completely between watering. Overwatering often leads to root rot and brown, water-soaked spots on the leaves.
Aloe requires bright, indirect light. An ideal location is near a sunny, south-facing window. Direct sunlight may burn the leaves and quickly dry out the soil. If it doesn’t get sufficient light, an aloe plant may become spindly and pale.
Read on to discover the best way to plant aloe vera from seed or by propagating “pups” or clones. This useful succulent is a must-have for your houseplant collection.
How to Plant Aloe Vera from Seed
Planting aloe vera seeds is a fun and rewarding DIY project. Purchase seed from a reputable supplier, or collect seed pods from an established aloe vera plant.
Germinating aloe seeds is surprisingly easy. For best results, fill a wide, shallow tray with a succulent potting mix or regular potting soil with added perlite. Since aloe seeds are so tiny, it works best to scatter them over the soil surface.
Keep the soil moderately moist while the seeds germinate, and consider using a humidity dome to retain moisture. Once the seeds sprout, try not to get the leaves wet when you water, as that sometimes leads to disease issues like damping off.
It takes two to four weeks for seedlings to emerge, so be patient. Place the tray in a warm location with bright light. It’s beneficial to use a heat mat underneath your tray to keep the soil around 75℉.
Once the seedlings have four leaves, transplant them into two-inch pots with a drain hole at the bottom. Be careful not to damage their fragile root system when transplanting.
Propagating Aloe Vera Pups
Aloe pups are small plants that emerge from the base of a mature specimen. Once it’s three or four inches long, separate it from the mother and repot it as a new plant that cleans air wherever you put it.
The pups are firmly attached to the base of the mother plant, so use caution and avoid causing damage during propagation. Lift the mother plant out of the pot and gently brush soil away from the base to expose the pups.
Avoid damaging the main stem by using a sterile, sharp knife for this fast growing plant. Allow the cuts to heal before repotting the pups and the mother plant. Lay them flat in a cool, dry location with indirect sunlight for 24 hours, so a callus forms over the cut.
When you’re ready to repot the plants, use containers that have a drainage hole at the bottom. Fill the pots with a succulent potting mix and gently place the small plants at the same depth as they were growing before.
Wait three days before watering them. After that, only rewater when the soil is completely dry.
After repotting, it’s not uncommon for newly transplanted aloes to turn brown for a while, a process called transplant shock. Rest assured that your new plant will bounce back. It just needs to pout for a few weeks.
Growing Aloe Vera Indoors
There are a few key factors to successfully growing aloe vera indoors. First, choose a pot that’s big enough to accommodate the plant’s root system and has a drainage hole at the bottom.
Terra cotta is an excellent choice for succulents because the porous material absorbs excess water.
To allow your aloe to reach its full potential, it’s necessary to periodically transplant it into a larger pot. Otherwise, the plant becomes rootbound and stunted.
The new container should only be about two inches larger. If there’s too much extra soil, it stays wet too long and may rot.
These plants aren’t heavy feeders and do best with infrequent watering and fertilizing. Instead of watering your houseplants on a regular schedule, it’s best to check the soil often and only water as needed.
As a general rule, if soil sticks to your fingertip, wait a few more days before watering. Use potting soil specifically designed for growing succulents, or create a DIY potting mix with these ingredients available at your local garden center.
In a large bucket, blend the ingredients using a garden trowel. Adjust the measurements so that you only make as much potting medium as you need at the time. If you have a bit left, store it in a sealed plastic bag in a cool, dry place.
Planting Aloe Vera Outdoors
If you live in USDA hardiness zones 8-11, it’s possible to grow aloe outdoors. The amount of sunlight that the plants require depends on your climate.
If you live near sea level, aloes grow best in full sun with at least six hours of direct light each day. At elevations of 1,000 feet or higher, it’s best to choose a location with partial shade for planting aloe vera.
Aloe grows best in sandy soil. It doesn’t require high nutrient levels but will suffer if planted in boggy ground. Aloes only need to be fertilized once or twice per year.
After transplanting, water your aloe vera plant thoroughly. Then, only rewater when the top few inches of soil are completely dry.
How Far Apart to Plant Aloe Vera
Have you ever wondered how far apart to plant aloe vera? Whether you’re growing aloe in containers or your outdoor landscape as ground cover for shade, it’s vital to give them enough space to thrive.
Mature aloe vera plant spacing must be at least one or two feet. Overcrowding results in stunted growth and decreases the likelihood of the plant flowering.
Troubleshooting Common Problems
Fortunately, aloes don’t tend to suffer from many pest and disease issues. Your best defense is keeping the plant healthy by providing appropriate light, nutrients, and water.
The most common insects that attack indoor aloe plants are mealybugs. If you notice an infestation, spray all sides of the aloe leaves with soapy water or neem oil.
Most plant diseases that affect aloe result from overwatering. If your aloe vera plant develops bacterial soft rot or basal stem rot, remove it from the pot and gently clear away as much of the old soil as possible. Sterilize the container, then repot it with new soil.
Aloe is one of the simplest succulents to grow. In addition, the leaves contain compounds that provide various health benefits.
The most well-known use for aloe gel is to relieve pain and inflammation from sunburn. A few key factors to keep in mind when planting aloe vera are its light and water requirements and how far apart to plant aloe vera.
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