You frequently come across a house with lots of aloe vera plants in its garden. Their thick, attractive, fleshy leaves make them a favourable choice for indoor and outdoor plants.
Aloe vera plants are famous for their many health benefits, and the gel scooped out of their leaves is used on the skin for soothing and moisturizing purposes and on hair for better growth. Aloe vera juice contains several antioxidants that favour the skin’s appearance and digestive system.
Aloe Vera Plant Care
Aloe vera is native to Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and Madagascar, which is why this succulent requires plenty of light to grow and doesn’t need much watering.
Aloe vera is a low-maintenance plant and an excellent companion for beginners, but there are some key points to note when caring for this plant.
Even when placed indoors, you should set this plant in a bright sunny spot, but take care that the sunlight does not hit the plant directly, as it can burn its leaves. However, the leaves will crease and weaken if there is too little natural light.
The aloe vera requires proper draining of its soil, and too much watering may rot the leaves. Do not water the soil unless it is too dry for long periods, and the aloe vera does not generally need a fertilizer.
Types of Aloe Vera
Approximately 580 aloe vera species were discovered, most of which are beautiful and less well-known than the common aloe we usually have at home.
1. Aloe Barbadensis Miller
The most famous and well-known member of the genus aloe. It has several medicinal properties and is commonly used as a low-maintenance houseplant.
2. Aloe Variegate
Also known as tiger aloe, aloe variegate is a dwarf aloe known for its toothless leaves and striking white horizontal stripes. Aloe variegate is not edible and grows only 10 to 15 cm high.
3. Aloe Ferox
Aloe ferox is known as bitter aloe, and it is a flowering specie. The Aloe ferox produces a three-meter-high pseudo trunk, and the reddish green leaves spread out, with bright red or orange flowers growing on high stalks.
4. Aloe Polyphylla
Aloe polyphylla, or spiral aloe, is the most attractive aloe. The small leaves are arranged in five rows in a spiral pattern. The fleshy leaves form a beautiful rosette, but beware! The poisonous plant cannot be applied to the skin or eaten.
5. Aloe Aristata
Also known as lace aloe, it is a spherical and dwarf aloe known for its attractive dark green leaves with white bumps. The fleshy leaves form a beautiful rosette, but this plant has no medical benefits.
How to Plant Aloe Vera
Terra cotta pots are most suitable for planting aloe vera, as the porous clay of the pot absorbs extra water, releasing the moisture from the soil of plants that prefer dry conditions, like cactus and aloe vera.
The plant pot should have a drainage hole, and the aloe vera should be planted in cactus compost with additional perlite or horticultural grit.
Some owners prefer to top the compost with another layer of grit, reducing excessive moisture and preventing the plant from rotting and dying.
Where to Grow Aloe Vera
Aloe vera thrives outdoors in a dry and warm environment. It requires up to 6 hours of natural light, but take care that you do not expose it to direct sunlight.
A covered patio is an excellent spot to grow aloe vera plants, and it is necessary to provide an arid and tropical environment for the plant. It grows efficiently between 55°F to 85°F, and most species cannot tolerate frost or temperatures below 40°F.
How to Propagate Aloe Vera
Aloe vera propagation is relatively easy than other plants. You only need to watch for baby aloe plants around their parent. Remove these offsets, also known as pups, and use them for propagation.
Doing this process when the plant grows on the ground is easy, but potted plants require careful removal of offshoots. Once the offshoots are four inches high, carefully remove the whole plant from its pot and use light fingers to check for the separate root systems of these pups. If their roots are firmly attached to the parent roots, use a knife to separate them carefully.
Let the parent plant and the offshoot develop calluses, then repot them in terra cotta pots with a suitable cactus compost. Place them in an area that offers sufficient sunlight, and avoid watering them for at least a week.
There are other methods to propagate aloe vera plants, which include using leaf cuttings, or seeds.
The Aloe vera plant is a decorative succulent that requires less maintenance and is easy to grow. If you are a beginner learning to take care of plants and decorate your home and office with them, buying a collection of different aloe vera species and other succulents is highly recommended.