Due to its many benefits, it is worth growing aloe in a pot at home. Here are the most important things to know about its care.
Aloe vera is more than an attractive houseplant. It has long been considered for its miraculous healing properties. Many people use it to treat minor burns, cuts and bruises. The healing gel of aloe is added to creams, ointments and body lotions. It is also used internally in the belief that it helps fight many diseases such as diabetes, asthma and arthritis. Its soothing effect can be enjoyed without having to buy it often, provided that you know how to grow your own aloe.
What is aloe?
Aloe is a semi-tropical perennial succulent that is often confused with cacti, but is actually a member of the Asphodelaceae family. The plant originates from North Africa. Today it can be found in many parts of the world.
Its appearance is defined by very thick, fleshy leaves with spiky or serrated edges that taper towards their ends. They come in many sizes, including dwarf varieties (2-3 cm tall) and larger ones, where individual leaves can reach 100-120 cm in length. For external, local use, the gel inside the leaves is mixed into various ointments and balms.
Environmental needs of aloe
Aloe is a semi-tropical plant, so it can only be planted outdoors all year round in countries where there is no danger of frost. In these areas, it prefers a sunny or bright location and well-drained soil. However, in areas that are cooler than this, you can take the plant outside for the warm summer months. It will need a sunny spot and moderately frequent watering. You can let the soil dry out completely between waterings.
Buying aloe at a gardening store
Due to its popularity, aloe can be found in most gardening stores and nurseries. A few things to keep in mind when choosing aloe. Always buy a plant that looks healthy and avoid the following:
- Do not buy a plant whose leaves are brown, yellow or spotted.
- Check the bottom of the pot: if the roots have overgrown it, this is a sign that the plant has been in the pot for a long time and its roots have completely overgrown it. It is best to choose another plant.
- Carefully examine the leaves and soil of the plant to see if pathogens or pests can be detected. Don’t buy a plant with obvious insect damage.
- Avoid buying a plant that sheds its leaves.
Caring for aloe is simple: it needs lots of sunlight, warmth and minimal watering.
- Place the plant in a sunny, permanently warm, draft-free place.
- Be careful not to overwater the plant. Water well every few weeks, then let the soil dry out completely before watering again. Overwatering is certainly the number one cause of failure with aloe vera. Use fast-draining (sandy, gravelly) soil that helps the plant not to be in too damp conditions.
- Carefully examine the stem and leaves of the plant for signs of pests or disease.
- Finally, examine the pot and the soil. If the roots have grown beyond the drainage hole or are visible on the surface of the soil, the plant has probably outgrown its pot. It will be necessary to repot such a plant into a larger pot, with due care.
Other information about aloe
- Aloe can be toxic to some small animals. If you have a cat or dog, be careful and find a suitable place for the plant in your home.
- When you bring the plant home from the plant store, keep it away from other houseplants for a few weeks until you are certain that it is free of any diseases or insect damage.
- Feed the plant annually, every spring, with a liquid nutrient solution.
Uses of aloe
One of the benefits of keeping aloe is that you will always have its soothing effect on hand. If you suffer a minor burn or bruise, simply break off a piece of one of the outer leaves of the plant, cut it in half lengthwise and scoop out the inside. Apply this gel-like, cooling sap to your burned or bruised skin.