Aloe Vera - How to Grow Aloe at Home

                                                          Aloe Vera Pups for Planting

                    Aloe Vera Pups for Planting

Aloe Vera is a succulent, evergreen perennial plant with several health benefits. Believed to have originated from Southern Europe, Northern Africa, and the Canary Islands, today the Aloe Vera plant is grown in many parts of the world, especially those in tropical climates.

The sap or gel from Aloe Vera has been used as medicine for thousands of years, its use as a medicinal plant dates back to ancient Egypt. With health benefits ranging from heartburn relief and reducing blood sugar to use as a natural laxative in aiding digestion and better skin care, there's so much to do with the aloe gel.

What is Aloe Vera?

Also known as medicinal Aloe Vera, burn plant, desert lily and even the elephant's gall, Aloe Vera is a succulent plant in the genus 'aloe' family. Scientifically, it's known as Aloe barbadensis. Its first use dates back to over 6,000 years, and it is believed to have originated from Sudan in Africa.

Spanish, Greek, African, Egyptian, Japanese, Italian, Persian and Indian civilizations, among many others, recognized the value of the aloe plant. It is found in large numbers in Africa, India and other arid and semi-arid regions across the world because it does well in warm, dry climates.

Aloe Vera gel is widely used in herbal medicine due to the various compounds it contains such as lectins, mannans, anthraquinones, and polysaccharides; these elements are critical to human health. The plant is short-stemmed or stemless and juicy with a height of 24 to 39 inches.

Planting Aloe Vera in the Garden

                                                   Mature Aloe Vera

The aloe plant has thick, fleshy leaves whose color range from dark to a light shade of green. Certain aloe species feature white flecks on the lower and upper parts of their stems. The plants also have saw-toothed edges on the leaves that can easily prick if not handled with care. It can grow indoors or outdoors, and its flowers bloom in summer.

Fun Facts about Aloe Vera

  • Aloe gel has over 200 active compounds inclusive of 18 amino acids, 20 minerals, and 12 vitamins. It also contains 75 nutrients.
  • Aloe Vera naturally grows in deserts and arid and semi-arid areas, explaining why it's called the 'Lily of the Desert'.
  • Aloe Vera plants are available in at least 250 species.
  • Aloe gel from mature Aloe Vera plants is more effective than extract from baby plants.
  • Aloe Vera plant can easily disinfect minor cuts and wounds.
  • Aloe plant was first discovered in 1862 by George Ebers.
  • Mature aloe plants produce yellow flowers.
  • Aloe plants can live for up to 100 years.
  • Aloe gel is oxidized if exposed for more than 4 hours, rendering it ineffective.
  • Aloe plants produce latex and gel.
  • Aloe Vera gel is different from Aloe Vera juice.
  • The plant is rich in Calcium.
  • Aloe Vera gel is used in beverage and yogurt production.
  • Aloe Vera seeds can be used as biofuel.
  • Aloe gel is used in hair care and skin care products in the cosmetics industry.

Potted Aloe Vera Plant

Potted Aloe Vera

Why You Should Plant Aloe Vera at Home

Aloe Vera is a good plant for any gardener; it is easy to grow and extremely rewarding. Aloe Vera propagates easily through offshoots, small clones found at the base of larger plants.

Aloe gel has many health benefits: it cures ulcers and nausea; reduces oxidative stress; improves the digestive system; heals wounds and reduces arthritic pain; soothes symptoms of acid reflux; inhibits the growth of cancerous cells; treats menstrual and skin problems such as dermatitis; delays the process of aging; and heals radiotherapy treatment side effects, just to mention a few.

A potted aloe plant is also a great way of bringing nature indoors in case you opt for an indoor aloe garden. Plants use carbon dioxide during photosynthesis and release oxygen, meaning having aloe plants indoor can freshen the air inside your home. As a potted plant, aloe can enhance your interior decor with a natural touch.

Factors to Consider When Growing Aloe Vera Plant

Before you start growing Aloe Vera at home, you need to consider the following factors to ensure you provide everything the plants need to thrive.

  1. Aloe Planting Zone

Aloe Vera is hardy to zone 9, 10 and 11, but it is not frost tolerant. If you are growing aloe Vera outdoors where temperatures can get close to freezing, covering them with a plant blanket or providing cold weather protection is recommended.

Aloe Vera thrives as an indoor plant. The two most important factors for successfully growing aloe is finding a location with enough sun and ensuring the soil is well-drained.

  1. Soil
  • Well-drained, sandy soil is best – use cacti or succulent mix. If you prefer to mix your own, try a sand base; supplement with potting soil and compost (a 50/50 sand to organic material is a good guideline). Add gravel and sand to your mix.
  1. Water & Fertilizer
  • Water deeply, allow the soil to completely dry out before watering. Create holes in the container to improve drainage. Aloe Vera plants grown outdoors will likely not need additional fertilizer provided adequate drainage and organic material.
  • Aloe Vera plants kept in containers may occasionally benefit from a general purpose fertilizer but frequent re-potting with a new potting mix as young plants increase in size is enough. If you have to use fertilizer, go for organic compost.
  1. Light
  • Full-sun or as much direct sunlight during the day is ideal. Aloe Vera will multiply with an adequate light source if you notice your aloe is leggy or leaves seem thin try to find a spot with more light.

How to Plant Aloe Vera at Home

    Required Gardening Tools & Supplies
    • Pots for planting
    • A sharp knife
    • Cacti/Succulent soil mix
    • Sand/gravel/pebbles/perlite/granite grit
    • Aloe Vera 'Pups'

    Aloe Vera is easy to plant and grow. You cannot grow aloe from leaf cuttings. The plant is propagated; young clone plants are detached from the root system or the base of a mature plant for planting.

    • If you're planting aloe for the first time, you need to buy propagated aloe for planting. However, if you have existing mature plants, look for 'pup' or small aloe plants near the mature aloe plant for propagation. Follow the procedure as shown in the video below.
    • Leave the young aloe plant in open air for about 5 days to develop callus at the point of detachment from the root system. Make sure the cut part doesn't get in contact with soil to prevent infection.
    • Plant the young plant in soil either outdoors in your garden or a plant pot for indoor gardening. Slightly bury the cut part in soil, but not the leaves. Use, pebbles, sand, and gravel to top up the soil and support your newly planted Aloe Vera 'pup' without a root system.
    • Within weeks, the Aloe Vera plant will develop a root system to give it support. Don't water the plant until it develops a root system; spray water on it every week or fortnight to prevent rotting. The moment roots start to grow, water your aloe plants once every two to three weeks.

     

                                              Splitting/Dividing/Propagating an Aloe Plant

    Caring for Your Aloe Vera Plant

    After planting your Aloe Vera plant, it's important to care for them and troubleshoot any problems that might arise during aloe growth. Consider the following care practices:

    • Water your plants in summer only when the soil becomes dry
    • During the cold season, water the plants sparingly and keep them indoors.
    • Fertilize (use organic manure or fertilizer) your Aloe Vera plants to promote growth, but this is optional.
    • Regularly engage in weed control to stop your plants from competing for food and water with the unwanted plants
    • Use plant covers on occasional days when the weather freezes to protect your Aloe Vera plants.
    • If the leaves look low or flat, give them more sunshine. On the other hand, if the leaves are browning, reduce the amount of sunshine.
    • Curled or thick-looking leaves lack water; water the plants to increase water intake by your Aloe Vera plants.
    • 'Melting' or yellowing leaves are indicative of excess water. Stop watering for about a week or two then reduce your watering frequency.
    • If your plants become too big for their pots, move them to bigger containers, without damaging the root systems.
    • Look out for 'pups' in mature plants for transplanting in new containers using the same procedure described above.

    Caring for your plants will ensure that you have aloe all-year round; during cold weather, move your plants indoors.

    Harvest

    • Aloe Vera is an extremely versatile plant, commonly used in cosmetics and as a treatment for burns, you can produce your soothing aloe by harvesting some mature leaves.

      Aloe Vera Harvest

                                                               Cut Aloe Vera Leaves

      • Cut mature leaves off at the base of the plant, then split and scrape inner juice out for use. The Aloe Vera juice can be stored refrigerated for a short period or frozen.

      Note that Aloe Vera takes 2 to 3 months to grow. However, if you want to use it for medicinal purposes, let it mature for at least three years to get the most benefits from your aloe gel.

       

      Check out our gardening tools and supplies collection to find what you might need to plant aloe and start growing it at home.