With bizarre silhouettes and magnificent flowering, Aloe vera provides decorative diversity on the windowsill. At the same time, the exotic plant acts as a green pharmacy, thanks to its rich and healthy juice.
Planting Aloe Vera Properly
Since Aloe vera completely lacks winter hardiness, cultivation in the bed is only an option in regions where you do not have frosty winters.
Therefore, you will mostly find this tropical plant in decorative containers. In the trade, this magnificent plant is often offered in unsuitable potting soil, though.
For this reason, we recommend immediate repotting in a suitable substrate after purchase. Cactus soil, for example, is excellently adapted to the needs of the succulent.
This is how planting Aloe vera succeeds:
- Spread clay shards or expanded clay over the water drainage holes in the bottom of the container.
- Fill the planter half to three quarters full with substrate.
- Plant the young plant until just below the lower leaves.
Water your freshly planted Aloe vera thoroughly and then allow it to dry out well in a semi-shaded location until the next watering.
After 3 to 4 weeks of acclimatization, the Aloe vera will enjoy a sunny place on the windowsill or summer balcony.
This plant, which is as spectacular as it is useful, does its job without calling for any elaborate care.
If the location is in a sunny and warm place, with temperatures above 50 °F (10 °C), the care revolves around the following measures:
- Water the plant moderately to allow the substrate to dry well in the meantime.
- Preferably use low-lime water, administered from below.
- Apply liquid cactus fertilizer every 4 weeks from March to October.
- Cut yellowed, retracted leaves at the outer edge and pull them out.
If the plant spends 4-5 weeks at a cool 50 to 55 °F (10 to 13 °C) during the winter dormancy period, this precaution will contribute significantly to lush flower induction.
Water only once or twice a month during the growing dormancy and do not apply fertilizer. Every 2 to 3 years, repot the Aloe vera into a larger pot in early spring.
Which Location is Suitable for Aloe Vera?
Migrated from the tropical and subtropical regions of this earth, the exotic flower proves to be a sun-worshipper. Therefore, choose the ideal location according to the following criteria:
- Sunny to semi-shady location without blazing midday sun behind glass.
- In summer, it gladly accepts full sun after a period of acclimatization.
- Warm and protected from pelting rain.
As long as the temperature is above 50 °F (10 °C), Aloe vera likes to stay on a sunny balcony or in the flower bed. Otherwise, the plant favors a place on the south or west window of the house, at temperatures of 68 to 77 °F (20 to 25 °C).
What Soil Does Aloe Vera Need?
Aloe vera feels at home in lean, well-drained soil. If the plant decorates your summer garden, it will especially appreciate a place in the gravel bed or rock garden.
Since Aloe vera is not hardy in regions with cold winters, the majority of amateur gardeners cultivate the plant in a tub.
A suitable substrate should be such:
- Standard cactus soil, pricking substrate, or standard potting soil.
- A mixture of one part garden soil, one part peat growing medium and one part sand.
- Optionally, a mixture of clay soil, peat, sand, and lava granules.
When is Flowering Time for Aloe Vera?
The cylindrical inflorescences, up to 16 inches (40 cm) long, appear decoratively in spring after a cool wintering at 50-55 °F (10-13 °C).
Tightly upright, the yellow, red, or orange flower clusters rise above the gray-green leaves. Of course, the plant is capable of this feat at the earliest from the age of 3 years.
Pruning Aloe Vera Properly
To harvest the rich leaves or to preserve the harmonious habit of the plant, pruning is possible throughout the year.
Using a sharp, disinfected knife, cut the outer leaves just a little and then twist them out. In this way, you will keep the wound as small as possible.
Dust the open tissue wound with charcoal powder to seal it. When cutting an Aloe vera, pay attention to the reinforced edges of the leaves and protect yourself from injury by wearing gloves.
Watering Aloe Vera
As a succulent, the plant has adapted to store water for a long time. In this way, it can survive long periods of drought.
therefore, it is necessary to rethink the classic watering on houseplants when it comes to watering Aloe vera. When in doubt, leave the plant rather dry than giving it a damagingly high dose of water.
Here’s how to do it right:
- Water Aloe vera only when the top 1-2 inches (3-6 cm) of the substrate has dried.
- In any case, do not pour water into the rosette of leaves.
- Excess water must necessarily be able to drain freely.
- Empty the saucer after 5 minutes at the latest to prevent waterlogging.
- In the summer garden, water once or twice a month, and only if there is a persistent drought.
Preferably use collected rainwater or stagnant tap water, as excess lime in the substrate can lead to leaf chlorosis.
Fertilizing Aloe Vera Properly
Nutrient feeding is limited to the administration of liquid cactus fertilizer during the period from March to October.
Do not administer the preparation on the dry substrate, because in this case, the roots may suffer salt burns. If in doubt, first moisten the plant a little with clean water.
Wintering Aloe Vera
If the tropical plant spent the summer in the open air, it needs to move to the sheltered house on the windowsill or in the winter garden in the fall.
At the latest when the temperature falls below the 50 °F (10 °C) degree mark, it is time to move your Aloe vera inside.
A cool wintering at 50 to 55 °F (10 to 13 °C) in a bright location has a beneficial effect on the longed-for flower induction.
Fertilizing is not necessary from November to February. Watering is limited to occasional watering once or twice a month.
Propagating Aloe Vera
The Aloe vera plant provides for offspring on its own, by sprouting pedicels near the roots. With good care, several child plants will grow from one adult flower.
Cut these off with a sharp, disinfected knife when they reach a height of 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm). Then fill seed pots with cactus soil to nurture the tiny plants until they have developed their own root system.
For this process, a young Aloe vera takes up to 3 months, which it should spend in a semi-shady, warm location.
What to Do if My Aloe Vera Does Not Bloom?
Do all the care measures around the plant stand up to critical scrutiny and yet it fails to bloom? Then you almost certainly have a very young Aloe vera in front of you.
In the first 3 to 4 years of life, the plant gathers the necessary strength to produce the imposing flower. If you maintain proper care, including a 4-week winter rest at 50 to 55 °F (10 to 13 °C), the plant will soon surprise you with a first inflorescence.
My Aloe Vera Has Brown Leaves
If the leaves of your Aloe vera take on a brown color, this circumstance does not stem from a failure in care. In fact, the plant reacts in this way to intense sunlight.
If you assign the plant a semi-shaded location or if it is protected by a curtain at the south window, its leaves will remain green.
My Aloe Vera Has Yellow Leaves
If only the outer leaves turn yellow, while the plant thrives green inside, it is a completely natural process.
The flower pulls in disused leaves as it ages to make room for fresh foliage. If, on the other hand, all the leaves take on a yellow color, check the water balance.
Too abundant watering with chalky tap water will do lasting damage to the plant and cause yellowing, a classic symptom of leaf chlorosis.
Can Aloe Vera Be Placed Outside?
The more sun the Aloe vera can soak up, the more opulent its unique plant body develops. On the other hand, since the plant can not tolerate temperatures below 50 °F (10 °C), the duration of a stay outdoors is limited to the summer months.
As soon as the temperature exceeds the 50 °F (10 °C) degree mark in spring, Aloe vera can relocate to the balcony. But before you place your gem under full sunlight, allow it a 1 week period of hardening off in a semi-shaded location.
Optionally, place the plant in the lean soil of your rock garden throughout the summer, where it will attract all eyes. As long as the Aloe vera moves back inside in time for protected winter quarters in the fall, there is nothing to stop it from making an annual guest appearance outdoors.
The fairy-tale beauty of the Egyptian ruler Cleopatra is attributed by historians, among others, to the use of the rich sap of the Aleo Vera plant. It is also said that the legendary queen Nefertiti nursed herself daily with a fluid obtained from this plant.
In general, Aloe vera accompanied some of the most famous rulers in the history of mankind. Thus, during his military campaigns, Alexander the Great resorted to the plant’s rich aloe gel to heal the injuries of his warriors.