Aloe vera is a semi-tropical plant that originated in Africa. It has been a valued plant dating back 5000 years due to its medicinal qualities. It has been used to treat various illnesses and applied as ointment to cuts, burns and rashes.
It is often categorized as cactus because of its spiky leaf, but it is actually a member of the lily family. Do you know that there are 300 species of aloe in the world and they range from as small as 1 inch miniature to a massive colony of 2 foot diameter plants? The most popular is aloe barbadensis which makes an excellent indoor plant. You can grow them from seeds, but if you’re a recreational gardener, this is not the way to go as it takes a longer time to germinate. Propagation from an existing plant is in fact more successful. Aloe produces pups or “baby aloe vera plants” along the mature plant which can be used to grow a new plant. Locate an offshoot that is at least 2 inches tall and whose leaves are starting to unfold… they’re ready for transplanting. Cut them from the main plant with a sharp knife to make sure that the base is intact. Allow the cut area to dry for a couple of days to keep toxic organisms from getting in. You may transfer the offshoot in the soil when the cut has fully dried and bury it deep so as to hold at least ¼ of the offshoot in the soil. One thing nice about aloe is that they will grow in just about any soil with good drainage. When planting in a container, mix a small amount of pebbles with the soil to keep it loose. Water the new plant just enough to moisten it and make sure that it gets 6 to 8 hours of sunlight.
Caring for your aloe plant is relatively simple and does not require too much attention. Aloe is a hardy plant built for hot, dry condition. This means that you do not have to water them daily, in fact, it’s best to water them when they have completely dried. Overwatering will rot the spongy leaves at its base which in time may kill them. And oh, they’re 95% water, which help them to survive drought quite well.
Apply light fertilizer once a year. Free their area of weeds by carefully pulling them without disturbing the aloe root. Aloe plants are known to be pest and disease resistant. No problem if they’re planted indoors, but outside they may be attacked by mealy bugs. If this happens, spray a mix of ½ cup alcohol with 1 quart of liquid soap on affected areas.
Grow some aloe vera indoor, it may come in handy. Have a nice time gardening.
“The best place to find God is in a garden. You can dig for him there” – George Bernard Shaw