Aloe vera plants have been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. These succulents are easy to care for and can be grown both indoors and outdoors. In this article, we will discuss how to grow and care for aloe vera plants.
Where to Grow Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is generally grown as a houseplant, but it can survive in some zones outdoors. It is hardy to USDA zones 8-11 and prefers a sunny location with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight. The tough skin of the leaves is able to withstand even harsh solar rays without burning. If you’re growing your aloe indoors, set it in a southern or western window so it receives plenty of sun. Container houseplants may be moved outdoors for the summer. In-ground plants should be planted in well-draining soil in full sun.
Container grown plants are very adaptable to being crowded. If kept in a confined pot, the plant will stay small. If re-potted into larger containers, over the years it will grow to its maximum size. No matter where the aloe plant is grown, it will still need a full sun situation. While plants in partial shade won’t necessarily die, they won’t flourish, either. They will not produce flowers, the leaves will stretch and get limp, and the color will suffer. Shade situations can also cause excess moisture that could encourage root rot, which will kill the plant.
When to Plant Aloe Vera
Aloe plants, like most succulents and cacti, enter a dormant period in winter. This is the best time to repot them or install them outdoors in warm regions. Aloes will not do well in heavy soils. Soil should be freely draining and have a bit of grit to encourage the movement of water away from the base of the plant. Indoor plants will thrive in cactus soil or potting soil with extra perlite or sand added to the mix. Outdoor plants may require soil amendment with sand or other gritty material to enhance percolation.
How to Water Aloe Vera
Aloe vera watering requirements are few. The soil of the aloe vera plant should be allowed to go completely dry before re-watering. Over-watering can cause the leaves to rot, which will kill the plant. Aloe vera is tolerant of drought conditions and will actually grow better if you forget to water it occasionally. During the growing season (spring and summer), water your aloe vera once every two to three weeks. During the winter months, water it even less often.
Fertilizing Aloe Vera
Aloe vera plants do not require fertilizer to thrive. If you want to fertilize your plant, use a low-nitrogen, water-soluble fertilizer, such as a 10-40-10 blend. Fertilize your aloe vera once a month during the growing season, and do not fertilize it at all during the winter months.
Pruning Aloe Vera
Aloe vera plants do not require pruning, but if you want to remove dead leaves or want to harvest the leaves for their gel, use a sharp knife or shears. Cut the leaf at the base of the plant, near the soil line. The plant will continue to grow new leaves, and the cut leaf can be used for medicinal purposes or as a natural skincare product.
In conclusion, growing aloe vera plants is an easy task if you follow these simple steps. With the proper growing conditions, you can grow an aloe plant with ease. Remember to provide your plant with plenty of sun and well-draining soil, and to water it sparingly. With a little care and attention, your aloe vera