How to Grow Aloe Vera (Beginner’s Guide)

How to Grow Aloe Vera

Ever wondered if there is a plant version of beauty and brains? Or probably beauty and purpose? A plant that adds glamour to your living room or office while still possessing a horde of benefits and uses? Good news – there is!

Here at Succulent City, we’re always pulling out all the stops to keep your window sill or garden looking aesthetically appealing and keeping it that way. So much so, to bring you the good old Aloe vera, a succulent that brightens up your living room and can be used as a medicine.

This ubiquitous succulent is a popular household companion due to its low maintenance requirement. Aloe vera can survive the negligence and abuse of wannabe gardeners. Not only is Aloe vera grown commercially as a houseplant, but also for its use as medicine, cosmetics, and food. Yeah, food!

Aloe Vera – Aloe Babardensis Miller

Aloe Vera is an almost stemless, perennial succulent growing to 1 meter in height while spreading offsets. This mid-sized, herbaceous plant grows in a rosette form with leaves surrounding each other in layers.

Often green or grey-green, the leaves are fleshy and thick, emanating from the center of the plant. Aloe’s leaves are lanceolate with pointed ends and may be adorned with white flecks in some varieties. The edges of the leaves are serrated and have teeny baby spines.

Aloe Vera is a quick grower when grown outdoors but generally slow-growing as a houseplant. These plants are a bit hard on flowering, but when they do, they produce showy inflorescence containing pendulous flowers, bright yellow, red, or orange. The blooms, quite conspicuous, appear in summer and are usually attached to a spike that may be up to 35 inches tall.

With proper care, Aloe Vera has an incredibly long life span and can live up to 100 years. Aloe vera contains approximately 200 nutrients and a bunch of healing qualities. This explains why many products in health stores and pharmacies contain extracts of this succulent.

 

Scientific Classification

Aloe Vera is botanically classified under the genus Aloe and the Asphodelaceae (liliaceae) family closely related to the lilies. Although the official scientific name of Aloe is Aloe Babardensis Miller, other names such as Aloe Vera, Aloe Indica, and Aloe vulagris are also used to refer to the same plant.

So broad is the aloe family that there are about 250 different species of aloe in botany. They differ a considerable deal in color and dimension.

Though not widespread, some of the common names for aloe include; Healing plant, first-aid plant, African aloe, true Aloe, and miracle plant.

Origin

This dainty succulent has been proved to originate from the Arabian Peninsula, although there’s evidence that some of the species are native to Northern Africa. Additionally, 130 species are exclusive to South Africa – the land of awesome succulents.

The popularity of Aloe has grown in leaps and bounds, finding its way to households all over the world.

Aloe Vera Fun Facts

  • The word, Aloe, is an Arabic derivative of “Alloeh” which means shining bitter substance.
  • The suffix, Vera, is Latin and means true or accurate.
  • ONLY 4 out of 300+ species of Aloe can be used as a medicine.
  • Aloe Vera was used as a deodorant by African hunters.
  • Aloe Vera was regarded as a Panacea by Greek scientists 2000 years ago.
  • Egyptians referred to the succulent as the plant of immortality.
  • Egyptian Queens considered Aloe a source of beauty, while Pharaohs carried Aloe vera for use in their afterlife. (I’m just as shocked).

How to Take Care of Aloe Vera

Growing and taking care of an Aloe plant is quite a breeze. This is among those succulents that thrive on neglect. You’ve probably heard ‘em say, “if you can’t sustain an Aloe, then just buy plastic plants.”

No, it’s easy to grow and keep your Aloe succulent alive.

Still don’t believe us? For thoroughness, however, the following conditions favor robust growth for Aloe vera.

Ideal Climate Conditions

Cold temperatures don’t go well with Aloe vera (like other succulents) as it’s not cold hardy. If you live in zones that experience temperatures below 44°F or 6.7°C, you’ll do well to plant Aloe vera in a pot to bring it in during freezing winter.

It cherishes room temperatures and will do just fine even where there’s a lot of warmth. Aloe vera, just like other succulents, does not care about humidity or lack of it. Aloe vera can thrive even in the driest of air.

Light Requirements for Aloe Vera

This sun lover will grow healthy if exposed to bright sunlight for a few hours daily. Aloe vera also does well in shades while receiving bits of indirect sunlight. If growing it indoors, place it near a south or west-facing window to ensure Aloe vera receives adequate sunlight. Rotate your plant every six months to ensure that all its parts get sunlight.

Outdoor aloes can do just fine with two or three hours of sunlight daily. Insufficient light will lead to droopy leaves and pale green color on the leaves, essentially etiolating or stretching. Conversely, if you subject your Aloe to lots of direct sunlight, especially during summer, it will get stressed. A scraggly appearance on the plant might evidence this.

Watering Conditions for Aloe Vera

See those thick, elongated, plump leaves? They contain water and gel.  Even the roots store water too. Therefore, it’s a no-brainer that overwatering this plant will send it to an early grave. Depending on your area’s climate, you want to water Aloe vera once in 2-4 weeks.

Drench your Aloe vera thoroughly, ensuring that the water drains out completely. This can easily be accomplished by draining holes in your container. If they are missing, simply tilt the pot and drain the excess water.

Water again only when the soil dries out. You’ll need to water frequently if you have a smaller pot or live in a hot or dry area. As is the norm with most succulents, water sparingly during winter.

With Aloe Vera, you’d somewhat underwater it than water it more often. This is because root rot is absolute, and once your aloe starts producing a strange smell, rotting has just begun. If you also notice dark transparent spots on the leaves, cut back on watering your plant.

Read our article on watering succulents if you want to be well equipped for watering your Aloe Vera plant.

How to Propagate Aloe Vera

Propagating an Aloe vera can’t get any easier. They are propagated by division or offsets produced by the mother plant. It is much more challenging to carry out the propagation of Aloes via stem cuttings.

To propagate using offsets (learn what offsets are here), identify and remove the offsets from the parent plant. These offsets, or pups, usually grow at the base of the plant. Aloe vera will occasionally grow offsets when given enough light, so treat your plants with enough lighting. Propagating via offsets is only recommended if the pups are mature. This can be determined by checking if they have grown their roots.

Carefully remove the mother plant from its pot for an easier time separating the offsets. Shake off as much dirt as possible from the roots. Be careful not to injure the delicate offset roots, do it gently. Cut the pups from the parent plant using a sharp knife or scissors. Carefully untangle the offset roots from the mother plant.

Once you’ve fully separated the offsets from their mother, slide the parent plant back to its pot. You can fill it with a fresh potting mix to revamp the nutrients.

As for the junior aloes, plant them in their pots using well-draining soil. While planting the offsets, keep the soil moist and do not water for several weeks. Once the plants show signs of growth, you can start watering them, albeit infrequently.

Repotting Your Aloe Vera Succulent

This succulent can grow heavy and leggy, so it might be necessary to repot it once it outgrows its current pot. This can be done any time of the year, but please avoid winter.

An aloe produces more pups when it’s pot bound, so avoid extra-large pots. A good indication that your plant needs repotting is when it becomes top-heavy, or roots start peeping out of the drainage hole. Otherwise, repotting Aloe vera every 2-4 years will just be fine.

Pests & Problems

Pests

This tenacious succulent isn’t susceptible to many pests apart from mealy bugs and houseplant scale. You can easily hose these off using a jet of water. Alternatively, you can opt for neem oil or 70% isopropyl alcohol which works wonders on these bad boys.

Mushy stem

If you notice that your aloe has a mushy stem, chances are that it’s overwatered. If you catch it early, cut off the part just above the rotted section and propagate the plant. This is the only way to save the plant before the rot spreads any further.

Brown, red or yellow leaves

This is none other than environmental stress. Primarily due to a lot of sunlight leading to sunburn, very little water, or shallow temperatures. This commonly affects outdoor aloes.

Typical Uses of Aloe Vera

  • Relieving sunburn.
  • Used to create Aloe Vera juice that can lower blood sugar.
  • Combatting heartburn.
  • Aloe Vera’s late substance on its peel can be used to treat constipation.
  • The gel of Aloe Vera can be used to treat acne and gastrointestinal issues.

Where can I buy aloe vera?

Let’s be honest, almost everybody and their mom has an Aloe Vera on their windowsill or just above the sink. Ok, probably you don’t have one, but you sure know many friends who can give you one for free.

If buying is the only option, you can get them anywhere. Every plant nursery or local garden center stocks some aloe. You can still find them online on Succulents Box, Etsy, or Mountain crest garden. Read our where to buy succulents guide if you want to find a laundry list of places to buy.

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Final Words

Enjoyed learning about Aloe Vera? If so, you’ll enjoy the ebook about Essential Tools for Planting the Best Succulents. This ebook will give you more detailed answers to help your succulents grow even better! With thousands of succulent lovers enjoying our ebooks, you don’t want to miss out on what works the best to grow your succulents.

Now that we’ve exhausted all information about how excellent the Aloe Vera succulent plant is, what do you think? Do you think you can take care of this baby and use its gel for lotion? Let us know! (Share with your succulent friend too).

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