Aloe Vera

Posted by Sunset Garden Experts on

Aloe Vera


 Aloe vera, popular for its medicinal uses, is a succulent plant, which can also be used for ornamental purposes. This plant, which is native to Africa, grows well in arid climates, but with a little care, you can grow it in your house. Even though, it is best as an outdoor plant, you can keep it indoors too, provided, it gets sufficient light to grow. Some outdoor plants may also produce flowers (white, yellow or orange) during summers. In our climate you will really only want to have them outside from late spring to early fall when it is warmest. The following information can help you with the proper care of aloe vera plant.

The Aloe vera plant needs bright light for its growth, but harsh sunlight can sometimes damage the leaves. Dark brown or orange spots may appear on the leaves, indicating sunburn. These spots may be flaky, or in some cases, the entire leaf may turn orange. Hence, it is better to keep the plant in a shaded place with lots of indirect sunlight. If you want it as an indoor plant, then make sure that it gets sufficient bright light. You can keep it near an east or west facing window and if the pot is placed on a windowsill, then try to avoid direct sunlight. During winters, keep the plant indoors and ensure sufficient bright light.

Soil and Fertilizer
The soil for planting aloe vera should be well drained. A potting mix with sand, pumice and perlite is suggested. Nowadays, commercial potting mixes are also available. You can go for pre-packaged 'cacti and succulent mix', as it facilitates good drainage. Diluted plant foods can be used (once a year) in spring. For indoor aloe vera plants, an organic kelp fertilizer, worm castings, or cacti fertilizer are ideal because they have a lower concentration of nutrients.

Aloe vera has fleshy leaves, which enable the plant to store water. Hence, the water requirement of this plant is very little and over watering can cause rotting. Water the plant, only when the soil is dry. You can water it once or twice a month and very scarcely during winter. Always grow this plant in pots with drainage holes, as these holes help to drain out excess water.

A healthy aloe vera plant grows very fast and produces many shoots. If the plant has outgrown the pot and the pot is filled with roots, then you can start repotting. Don't allow the new shoots to grow beyond 3 to 4 inches, as these shoots suck energy from the mother plant. This affects the health of the mother plant, which is characterized by the horizontal growth of leaves. Hence, remove the shoots when they are 3 to 4 inches long and replant them. It is beneficial to use terracotta pots, as they are porous and air can dry them out from the sides as well as the top so the soil doesn't stay wet for as long. Water them at the time of replanting and avoid watering for the next three weeks. It is normal for these new plants to change their color to gray or brown, during the initial stages of replanting.

If the leaves are growing flat, try to provide bright light. If the growth rate of the plant is very slow, then change the potting mixture and stop using fertilizers. If you want to harvest the leaves, go for the ones which are closest to the ground. Aloe vera plant cannot stand frost or snow. Hence, keep it indoors, during these seasons. Otherwise, it is very easy to take care of the plant. You can also grow some aloe vera plants and enjoy its benefits.

Medicinal Uses

The most common use of aloe vera is for soothing the pain from sun burns. To do this cut off one of the lower leaves and rub the end of it over your sunburns. It also helps sooth the pain of other wounds like cuts and scrapes. Some people will even add the insides of the leaves to their smoothies to add a different texture and to help with digestion.

aloe vera medicinal

Gel inside Aloe Vera leaves that is used for soothing wounds and in smoothies.

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