Aloe vera is a popular medicinal succulent. The leaves that emerge from the center of the plant are plump with light spots and slightly serrated edges. Because aloe vera is easy to care for and has multiple uses, it’s a staple houseplant all over the world.
What is Aloe Vera?
Aloe vera, a succulent native to the Arabian Peninsula, has a couple of scientific names including Aloe vera, Aloe barbadensis, Aloe vulgaris. It has many subspecies and numerous hybrids that identifying each one can get pretty confusing.
Aloe vera can grow fast outdoors but becomes slower when placed indoors. They can live for a long time, averaging between 5 to 25 years. It can grow to about 60-100cms tall.
Nowadays, the plant is grown not only for its appearance but also for its health and cosmetic purposes.
Aloe Vera Benefits
Aloe vera is incredibly versatile. The first records on the use of this medicinal plant date back to 2,200 BC years ago in ancient Egypt. It was regarded as a sacred plant that was key to achieving beauty, wellness, and immortality. Even Cleopatra, the epitome of feminine beauty, highly valued the nutritious juice extracted from this plant and used it as part of her daily skin and beauty regimen. Because of its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, aloe vera was also used to embalm the dead.
Caring for Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is easy to care for. Although you don’t need to do much to make it thrive, there are a few things you need to remember to make sure it grows under the best conditions.
Like all succulents, aloe vera does not need frequent watering. Water it once a week at most, or when you see that the soil is completely dried out. Overwatering is one of the top reasons why succulents die.
It causes the roots to rot, and eventually kills the whole plant from top to bottom. In the wild, aloe vera grows in dry and arid climates where they don’t get much rain. Because aloe vera is a succulent, it stores water on its leaves, which means they can survive for a long time without water.
When you water your aloe vera, make sure to give it a good drink, but don’t let it sit in water so that the soil doesn’t become soggy. In colder months, aloe vera plants go into dormancy, meaning it will need little water during that time. Mature aloe vera plants sometimes don’t need watering at all during that time.
If you’re unsure when to water your succulent, use a soil moisture gauge to help you figure out when it needs watering. Or stick your finger in the soil, and if it’s dried all the way, then it’s time to give it a good drench. As much as possible, avoid watering the leaves of your aloe vera as water can act as a magnifying glass for the sun and will cause your plant to burn.
Be careful when moving indoor aloe vera out in direct sunlight, as they will be sensitive to the amount of light they’re suddenly getting. Gradually shift the amount of sunlight you give to your plants lest they get sunburned.
Aloe vera requires fast-draining soils. The soil works to eliminate excess moisture from its roots. If the excess moisture is not removed, the plant will drown. The soil must contain several inorganic substrates like pebble, sand, and perlite, and only a little organic matter.
If you’re planning to re-pot your aloe vera, use a container that has drainage holes. To prevent soil spillage, use a drainage netting to cover the holes. Use pots made from terracotta or clay because they wick water out of the soil to help it dry faster.
It is not necessary to fertilize aloe vera, but they will benefit from being fertilized once in a while, especially during their growing season. If you plan to harvest the gel of your aloe vera, it is better to use an organic or compost fertilizer. Aloe vera can bloom. The flowers come in red, orange, or yellow and last a couple of weeks. However, indoor aloe vera plants rarely bloom.
It is unusual for aloe vera to have pest issues, but mealybugs can sometimes attack plants. If you notice pests infesting your plant, dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and use it to get rid of the bugs.
Usual Problems with Aloe Vera
Usual Problems with Aloe Vera
If your aloe plant has a mushy stem, it means it was overwatered and is now rotting in the base. If most of your plant’s stem is still firm, you have to act fast so you can save your plant. Cut off all the rotten parts and propagate the remaining healthy parts.
If your plant has brown leaves, the first thing you have to check is the stem of the plant. If it’s still firm and healthy, check the leaves if they are mushy or shriveled. Soft leaves mean overwatered plant, while shriveled and dry leaves mean it could use more water.
Tall and thin plant
If your aloe plant is growing tall and thin, it means it’s not getting enough light. Move it near your window, or use artificial light like grow lights.
If you don’t grow an aloe vera yet, we highly recommend that you get one. These plants are easy to care for, and you can get the most out of them. Do you have any information to share about the growth and care of aloe vera plants? We’d love to hear what you have to say!