People have been growing aloe vera plants for thousands of years.
Aloe vera is known as one of the most widely used medicinal plants.
Among the many health benefits, let’s just mention it contains a lot of antioxidants, has antibacterial properties, helps the healing of burns, reduces dental plaque, treats canker sores, reduces constipation, can improve skin health, prevents wrinkles, and lowers blood sugar levels.
That is why it is important to know how to grow aloe vera.
After all, it is one of the cheapest all around products you can use for skin health, hair health, and overall body health.
Taking care of an aloe vera plant in your home is easy, and we are here to help you grow it.
The first step in growing aloe vera plant is to realize this plant is a succulent.
What does that mean?
Well, succulent plants have some parts that are more than normally thickened and fleshy, as a way to retain water in arid climates or soil conditions.
Cactus plants are the most famous succulents.
Like cactus, aloe vera plants work best in dry conditions.
Put them in a cactus potting soil mix or a regular potting soil that has been amended with additional building sand.
Make sure that your pot has plenty of drainage holes.
Aloe vera does not tolerate standing water.
Important: put aloe vera in a place where they have proper light. The plant needs bright light, so the best area is south or west facing windows.
You can use aloe vera plant to decorate a kitchen shelf or any other area of your home.
Aloe vera doubles as a self-regenerating first-aid kit, and a decorative plant.
With that in mind, how to grow aloe vera?
We take you through the planting, growing, and harvesting aloe vera gel.
How to plant aloe vera?
Before you start with planting your aloe vera plant, there are a few things you need to consider.
Here are guidelines:
- Select a container that is about as wide as it is deep
- If your aloe plant has a stem, go with a container that is deep enough to put the entire stem under the soil
- Always go for a pot made of terra-cotta or another porous material, as it allows the soil to dry thoroughly between watering. This material is also heavy enough to keep the aloe vera plant from tipping over. If you use plastic or glazed pot, remember, they hold more moisture, so do not water your plant as often
- Pick a container that has at least one drainage hole at the bottom. If you can find a container with more drainage holes, go with that
- Use a well-draining potting mix, one that is made specifically for succulents. The mix should contain perlite, lava rock, and/or coarse sand. Sometimes, the mix contains one of these, but it is best to have all of those three ingredients
- Do not put a layer of gravel or any other drainage material at the bottom, as it will take up space the roots of the aloe could be using
Now that we know what you need for planting an aloe vera, let’s go step by step through the planting process.
- Give your new pot a quick rinse or a scrub to prepare it
- Let the pot dry thoroughly, and then place a small piece of screen over the drainage hole. You can also get away with a doubled-up piece of newspaper, but it will break over time
- Remove the aloe vera from its current pot. Brush away any excess dirt, but be careful not to damage the roots
- If there are any pups on the plant, remove them. You can trim the stem off partially if your plant has a long stem that won’t fit in the pot. To trim the stem, cut off part of it, but leave as much as possible on the plant. Take the bare plant and pale it in a warm area with indirect light. Wait for several days, and a callous will form over the wound
- Fill the pot with 1/3 of the way with the potting mix we mentioned earlier. Place the plant in the soil, and continue filling in the soil around the plant. Leave at least ¾ of an inch of space between the top of the soil and the rim of the pot
- Do not water the plant for at least one week to decrease the chance of inducing rot. This will also give your plant a chance and time to put out new roots. Keep it in a warm place with indirect light until the plant is rooted
Taking care of your aloe vera plant
Planting an aloe vera plant is the easy part.
The challenging aspect is taking care of your aloe vera so it can grow large.
Here are some pointers on how to allow your aloe vera to grow.
- Place your plant in a bright location but under indirect sunlight or artificial light. The ideal area is by the western or southern window
- Ensure that the temperature in your home or in the area where the plant stays within the range of 13 – 27 Celsius (55 and 88 Fahrenheit)
- Water your plant deeply, but not frequently. Best is to allow the soil to dry at least 1 to 2 inches deep between watering. Never let your aloe vera sit in water, as you can encourage rotting
- Speaking of watering, water your plant once every 3 weeks. During the winter, water it even more sparingly. With your finger, test dryness of the soil before watering. If the potting mix stays wet, do not water, as the roots can begin to rot
- Fertilize once per month, and only in the spring and summer using a balanced houseplant formula
How to replant aloe vera offsets?
When your aloe vera is mature, it will produce offsets, which are commonly known as pups or plantlets.
You can remove them and produce an entirely new plant in a separate pot.
Here is how to do.
- Find where the offsets are attached to the mature plant. Separate using pruning shears, sharp knife, or scissors. Make sure to leave at least an inch of stem on the offset
- Put the offsets in a soil, and leave them to stay there for several days. Wait until the offset forms a callous over the cut. During this period, keep the offsets in a warm location with indirect light
- Once your offset forms callouses, pot them in a standard potting mix, with a well-draining soil
- Put the new plants in a sunny location, and wait at least one week before watering
How to harvest aloe vera gel for health benefits?
The main reason you want to learn how to grow aloe vera is for the gel.
Aloe vera gel has many health benefits, and you can harvest it at your own home.
Remove a mature leaf from the plant, and cut it lengthwise.
Squeeze the gel out, and then use it.
You can apply the gel to a burn for relief.
You can also lay the opened leaf gel-side-down on top of the affected skin area.
If you need to use the gel for any other recipe for health benefits, just squeeze it.