How to grow aloe plant?

 

One of the very best perks about growing Aloe vera is those plump leaves full of gel and juice which you get to harvest. I’ve been growing this medicinal plant for years and love that it not only looks good (especially when planted in a terra cotta pot) but has so many fabulous properties. Today, I’m sharing with you all the details on how I use and store aloe vera leaves.

I’ve seen articles with titles like “40 ways to use aloe vera,” “20 ways to use aloe vera,” and so on. I have 7 ways I use it on a fairly regular basis. My Aloe vera pot will be ready for some serious harvesting in about 6 months but right now I’m buying large, single leaves which you can find in the produce section at Natural Grocer’s, an international market, a Mexican market or Whole Foods. Each large leaf lasts me about 2 weeks.

My newly repotted plants. I’ll have a bounty of Aloe vera in no time!

How to Cut Aloe Vera Leaves

I cut off a desired portion of the Aloe vera leaf, remove the “spiny” sides & then cut that chunk in half. For topical applications, I use it this way leaving the skin on. I rub it on as is or squeeze out the clear gel & juice. When put in smoothies, I cut it into chunks being careful not to scrape too close to the skin.

There’s a yellowish latex next to the skin which usually oozes out & I don’t use it. There are sources which say to avoid it so I do. Do a little research & make up your own mind on this 1. And, don’t consume the skin.

I just cut this leaf off of my plant. You can see the yellowish latex dripping out.

How to Use Aloe Vera Leaves

1) I use the leaves to tackle skin irritations.

If I have a skin irritation (rash, bug bite, etc) I rub the cut aloe vera leaf all over it. Because I store it in the fridge, the cool goo feels oh so good.

2) I rub it on my face & neck once or twice a week.

After it dries a bit, I put moisturizer or oil over that followed by sunscreen. Always sunscreen on my face – I live in the Arizona desert after all!

3) Once a month I’ll slather Aloe vera all over my hair & scalp making certain I get the ends good & saturated.

I’ll leave it in for an hour or so & sometimes overnight before shampooing it out. I have dry, fine hair & although this doesn’t make it soft & silky (let’s be real here!), it does make it feel a lot more moisturized.

4) I squeeze the gel out into a small bowl & mix it with clay to make a mask.

I leave it on for 10 – 30 minutes & then rinse off with cool to warm water. The clay is purifying & the aloe is moisturizing so it’s a great (& oh so cheap!) way to pamper your face & neck.

5) I rub the aloe vera leaves on the heels of my feet too.

I’ve never paid too much attention to ugly cracked heels because I’ve never had them before. Up until now, that is. The dry, hot desert has taken its toll. I love to wear sandals & go barefoot almost all year long. After 2 years of shoeless life here, the cracked heels set in. Oh boy, are they painful!

Just before hitting the hay, I plaster on the aloe vera gel & juice all over my feet & then put on cotton socks. Not the most glamorous way to sleep but it does help.

6) The leaves can also do wonders for the puffy skin under your eyes!

Sometimes the eyes get puffy & sore whether it’s due to allergies, the wind, not enough sleep or a wee too much beer. I cut a couple of pieces of aloe (leaving the skin on) & put them in the freezer for 5 minutes or so. Just sit back, put your feet up & place the chunks under your eyes. 5 or so minutes of that refreshes the eye area & makes me feel all “depuffed”.

7) When the mood strikes I’ll throw a few chunks of the gel in my smoothie before blending.

It’s very hydrating, especially in the summer.

See how I cut, use & store Aloe vera leaves:

How to Store Aloe Vera Leaves (plus how long they stay fresh)

You want to keep your Aloe vera leaf as moist & fresh as possible. What I do is simple: wrap the cut end in tin foil, tie it with an elastic band, put it in a large plastic shopping bag, wrap that tightly & then tie with another elastic band.

I’ve found that Aloe leaves stay fresh for about 2 weeks or so. Keeping them any longer than 3 weeks the leaves get a bit “funky, funky”. As with most everything, freshest is best.

If you’re going to use it up within 1-3 days, leave it out on the counter (if the temps aren’t too warm). You could also wrap it tightly in plastic wrap but I don’t have any. A large shopping bag works just fine & I like to reuse as much as I can.

What You Should Know About Aloe Vera Leaves

When you first cut off or into an Aloe vera leaf freshly cut from the plant, the odor given off can be a bit pungent. Don’t worry it’s just the nature of this useful beast – there’s nothing wrong with it. It’ll eventually go away. I’ve found that leaves you buy in the store don’t have this smell.

Once you’ve rubbed the gel on your chosen body part, you can use your fingernails to poke out a bit more of the juice (you’ll see this in the video). Good to get every last drop I say!

As an experiment, I cut a couple of pieces of Aloe vera, wrapped them tightly in foil & put them in the freezer for 5 days. The results weren’t too good for me. The skin was mushy & the gel & juice were watery. I’ll stick with storing them in the fridge.

There’s that juicy gel oozing out that we all want.

I love the way Aloe vera looks growing as a houseplant or in the garden. But I especially love its wonderful properties and how healing and soothing it is. How do you use Aloe vera?

Happy gardening,

My mother has a green thumb, so plants were a great part of my childhood. One of my fondest memories is her using the aloe vera plant she kept outside in a pot to treat my scraped knee. There are over 400 different species of aloes across the world and so much to learn about these succulents. Even if you don’t have fond memories of aloe and its uses, you could still benefit from learning a thing or two about the magical healing plant.

Aloe Introduction

Some are a few feet tall while some are small enough to grow inside the house. One of the most popular and common species of aloe is the aloe vera plant which is also known by its botanical name Aloe Barbadensis. This plant has many medicinal and commercial uses. In fact, it is one of the most useful plants in the whole world. Aloe vera has at least 6 natural antiseptics and about a hundred more uses. Its antiseptic characteristics are known to be effective in destroying mold and bacteria.

Aloe vera plant is characterized by its variegated leaves that branch out from its center. They may be planted indoors provided that they are exposed to sufficient sunlight. These plants are small enough for your house. You can even place them in a small pot and place them inside the kitchen by the window so that they can be readily available for you to use. They may also be planted outdoors as long as they are not exposed to extremely low or freezing temperatures.

Wherever you choose to plant them, they will never fail to provide amazing benefits. One of the most popular uses of this plant comes from its leaf juice. The juice can miraculously relieve pain caused by scrapes and burns. This plant not only holds amazing appeal to people but also to animals. One quick trivia: Did you know that hummingbirds love the nectar from aloe flowers? I’m not surprised really. I love aloe vera and all of the great benefits I’ve found for it in my home.

How to Grow Aloe Vera Plants

Aloe vera plants grow best in tropical countries. It is where they originated in the first place. Although they grow best in the tropics, they can still grow in countries where the freezing temperature of winter is ruling. If you are from a tropical country, we suggest that you grow your aloe vera plant outdoors. If you are from a country where winter is ongoing, we suggest you grow the aloe vera plant indoors.

Aloe vera plants do grow faster outside but they can still grow beautifully inside the house. You may eventually grow it outdoors in the warmer months of spring and summer. If it is cold outside, I suggest growing them indoors and follow the proper caring tips.

For your aloe preparation, you will need to prepare a wide pot and a soil mix that is made specifically for succulents. Aloe vera plants love a soil mix that drains well. This might sound challenging, but I’ve found it quite simple to do. You can make a combination of cactus soil, potting soil, and sand.

The pot should also have a large drainage hole. Ideally, the hole should have a diameter of two to three inches. In addition, it is better to have a wide pot than a deep pot so that the roots can spread out.

How to Take Care of Aloe Vera Plants

Taking care of an aloe vera plant is a walk in the park as long as you know their needs. It’s easy to forget that plants, like animals, are living creatures and can’t be forgotten while in our care. But if you’re taking your time to read this how-to guide, I have no doubt that you’ll be a wonderful plant parent.

Aloe Vera Plant Care Indoor

Choosing to grow an aloe vera plant indoor may mean that you live in a colder environment or you do not have enough garden space outdoors. Or maybe you’re like me and you just like to look at them. Whatever your reason is, these tips should guide you in successfully growing a plant in the cozy walls of your home. Aloe vera plants do love the sunlight, however, too much sunlight may turn their color brown. This is why growing them indoors while exposing them to indirect sunlight is a good option.

When growing the aloe vera plant indoors, it is important to expose it to indirect sunlight for at least 6 to 8 hours a day. You may also rotate the pot once or twice a week to ensure that all sides of the plan received an equal amount of sunlight.

When watering the plant, it is important not to overwater them. In the warmer months of indoor planting, you can soak the plant with water. Just make sure you allow the soil to dry out for at least 1 to 2 inches before watering it again. In the colder months, the plant will require less watering because it will take longer for the soil to dry. You would not want to keep the soil too moist as the roots of the aloe vera may rot when exposed for too long.

If your aloe vera plant becomes too heavy, there may be a need to re-pot it. It needs to be re-potted to ensure that the roots will not get tangled to each other or grow in circles. This event is also called root-bound. The only good thing about this is that when it happens, the aloe vera will produce more plant babies. This means more growing aloe vera for you. After moving the plant into a bigger planter, it is common for it to turn a bit gray or brown in color. It should bounce back though and return to its original color if you place it in a shady location.

When the aloe vera plant has made its offsets, plantlets or babies, this is your chance to grow more of them. Welcome to grandparenthood.

In order for you to get these babies, remove your aloe plant off of its pot and look for the attached offsets. Use a knife to sever the offsets from your plant and let them form calluses on the cuts.

After that, place the offsets into a pot with a soil mixture, water generously, and expose to indirect sunlight. Please keep in mind that you should keep the soil with the offset as dry as possible for the next 2-3 weeks. This will ensure that the offsets will grow more roots since it would seek for water.

It is important to remove the offsets from the aloe vera plant. If they are not removed, they can cause harm to the mother plant. Parenting is definitely a hard profession, so make sure to cut the cord. You don’t want an offset living there until it’s in its 30s.

Aloe Vera Plant Care Outdoor

Growing the aloe vera plant outdoors may need more effort and knowledge. There are some lucky locations that can grow these plants without any issues. This plant can grow outdoors for you if you are located in USDA zones 8 to 11.

You may still grow aloe vera plants outdoors even if you are not on the mentioned zones, provided that it is summer and warm in your place. Or you can simply take your potted aloe vera plant outside and leave it there for the rest of the warm months.

When growing the aloe vera plant in the perfect zones, it does not generally require a pot. This means lesser work for you as you would not need to re-pot them when they outgrow the pot. Their roots have the freedom to explore soil directly. Generally, they do not require too much attention. You just have to ensure that you are placing them in an area where there are sunlight and loose and gritty soil.

You can soak the plant with water but like we always say, let the soil dry before watering them again. In some days, when the weather is inevitably cold, you can cover the plant with a plastic container or pail overnight. However, if the cold days turn to weeks, you might as well place it in a pot and put it indoors. Prolonged exposure to cold weather can harm the plant. As a general rule of thumb: indoors in cold, outdoors in warm. It’s pretty simple.

You may also get its offset. Although this time, you would not be able to look at how bigger it has become and compare it to its pot or look at the bottom of the pot to check if it has developed lots of roots. A good way to know that your plant is suffering from its offsprings is when its leaves grow horizontally and become bright green in color. If you do see these signs, you can dig the soil carefully and cut the offsets.

Aloe Vera Care Problems

If the aloe vera leaves are growing horizontally and flat instead of upward, it may be a sign that it is not receiving enough sunlight.

If its leaves develop a brown color, it means that it is exposed to too much direct sunlight.

When their leaves become thin and curly, it is not receiving the right amount of water. Curling leaves only mean that it is already using its own water to survive. If you feel like it is growing very slowly, it may mean that your soil or water is too alkaline. This is something I’ve struggled with when growing aloe vera, so test if possible.

How to Use Aloe Vera Plants and Benefits

Since the biblical times, there have been a plethora of recorded medicinal uses for the aloe vera plant. Let’s check the facts behind this aloe vera mystique. Whether you need it for as a natural beauty solution or a reliever for burns, it can effectively help you.

Aloe Vera Plants Uses for Face

Many experts use the aloe vera gel inside its leaves. They use it to treat skin disorders, wounds, sunburn, radiation burns, and dermatitis. If the aloe vera plant is applied in the face regularly, it can improve the skin complexion. It becomes clear, radiant and smooth.

You can buy aloe vera gels but you can easily scrape it out of the aloe vera leaves by yourself. This is the more natural and economical option. Studies have shown that aloe vera has effective properties to treat skin conditions. It can treat your skin if you have sunburns, dry skin, acne, stretch marks, and even lines caused by aging. Cleopatra even used aloe vera for this same purpose! Maybe this is how the captivated Caesar with her beauty?

Aloe Vera Plants Uses for Hair

The plant also provides miraculous remedies for the hair. It can promote hair growth, minimize dandruff, and maintain the pH balance in the scalp. It can even be your natural alternative to hair conditioners. Losing hair? Aloe is great for this as well! The aloe vera gel contains enzymes that have the ability to repair dead skin cells in your scalp. Not only does it do great things to the scalp, but it also rejuvenates the hair with nutrients thus, makes it more elastic. This will minimize hair breakage.

Aloe Vera Plants Uses for Burns

Aloe vera has a powerful healing property. If an aloe vera gel is applied to sunburns, it can relieve the pain and speed up the healing process of the skin. Some people even make aloe vera ice cubes for better results. Not only can an aloe vera gel heal burns it can also effectively restore the moisture in the skin and protect it from any further damage. It is also effective in relieving insect bites and plant stings.

FAQ’s

Can you eat Aloe Vera?

Fresh Aloe Vera gel and skin can be eaten. First, you have to wash the gel or skin thoroughly to get rid of all traces of latex, which has an unpleasant bitter taste and may cause harmful side effects. Never eat aloe vera skincare products!

How to take care of an Aloe Vera Plant?

Taking care of an Aloe Vera plant maybe a walk in the park so long as you know their needs. These needs depend on whether you grow the plant indoors or outdoor. Find here everything you need to know about how to take care of the Aloe Vera plants.

Can you grow Aloe Vera Plant Indoors?

Yes, they can. Although Aloe Vera plants grow best in the tropics, they can still grow in countries where the freezing temperature of winter is ruling. If you are from a tropical country, we suggest that you grow your aloe vera plant outdoors. If you are from a country where winter is ongoing, we suggest you grow the aloe vera plant indoors.

Do Aloe Vera plants need a lot of sun?

Aloe Vera plants need approximately six to eight hours of direct sun. Some light shade or filtered sun at midday is also acceptable. South- or west-facing outdoor areas and a somewhat sandy soil render perfect conditions for growing aloe vera, whether in a pot or in the ground.

Some Final Thoughts

There are many other benefits and uses an aloe vera plant can give us. I mean it when I say that this plant is a true gift from nature. You can unleash tons of its medicinal potential to a whole new level when you plant it yourself. Gardening and doing a little bit of planting activity is not only fun but also fulfilling. Imagine how much health, mental, and emotional benefits you can get from them. You may not know yet but there are actually tons of benefits gardening can bring to your life. What are you waiting for? Get that shovel and pail and discover yourself and your plant’s potential.

Nancy Drew here. I am a biologist. I love all living things, but plants have a special place in my heart. I aim to bring plants and YOU closer again. In this modern day, plants are easily the most neglected home and garden design necessity. For the most unacceptable reason, ‘Oh, I don’t know how to take care of them’ or ‘Oh, I don’t have a green thumb’. When in fact, plants can be your pet and they require less maintenance than any pet you’ll ever have. Ok, maybe I’m being pushy. But hey, if there’s one thing I want to tell you, it is that plants aren’t intimidating if you have the necessary knowledge for them. That’s why I’m here. I will share everthing I know about my beloved plants and hopefully you decide to adopt one in your home. You know, for fresh air, something to talk to sometimes, and possibly an instant destresser. Yes, I talk to my plants. A lot actually! If you got any concerns about planting, please don’t hesitate to message me.

How to Care for Aloe Vera

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Aloe vera, perhaps the most ubiquitous succulent in the world, is the ultimate houseplant. It is small, easy to care for, and even useful! Aloe vera is an integral part of every plant-lover’s menagerie.

Let your eyes wander to that Aloe vera above your sink (yes, that’s where everyone keeps theirs). Admire the pleasantly plump leaves emanating from the center, the variegation in the form of light spots along the leaves, the lightly serrated edges. This is the quintessential succulent, but it’s more than that. It’s a staple of every household around the world. How did a simple succulent from Northern Africa make it into homes across the globe? The answer lies in its ease of care and myriad of uses.

Table of Contents

What is Aloe vera?

Aloe vera has a few other names. It is commonly just called Aloe. It has a couple of scientific names that all refer to the same plant: Aloe vera, Aloe barbadensis, Aloe vulgaris, and more. In addition, there are innumerable hybrids (so naming gets pretty wonky). There are many, many subspecies of Aloe vera cultivated in every corner of the planet. These days it is grown commercially not just for use as house plants, but also for cosmetics, food, and medicine.

How to Care for Aloe vera

Aloe vera is among the easiest of plants to care for. Being a succulent, it can survive abuse and negligence like few other plants can.

Aloe vera Sun Requirements

This is one of those succulents that thrives in a window. Direct light for about 8 hours a day is optimal, but Aloe is forgiving. It often grows in indirect light too – on a desk or in the shade under another plant. Aloes that get a lot of direct sun usually begin to turn reddish-brown. Don’t fret! This is not harmful to your plant! It’s indicative of a healthy plant with lots of sun. They change color to help prevent damage from so much sunlight. You can modulate the color of your Aloe by exposing it to more or less light. Be careful to make lighting changes gradually so you avoid giving your plants a sunburn.

If you find your Aloe vera turning the wrong kind of brown – a yellowish kind that implies not enough sun, you’ll need to change the lighting. Try another window with more sun, moving the pot outside, or a grow lamp. Grow lamps are inexpensive lighting solutions that can allow you to expand your collection beyond the window sill.

Aloe vera Watering Requirements

Like all succulents, Aloes prefer infrequent drenchings. Depending on the time of year, the humidity, the temperature, etc. the time between waterings can differ. A good rule of thumb is to water succulents about once a week. During a hot summer you might water a little more. Likewise, in the winter you won’t need to water as often. If you’re not sure, stick your finger a couple inches down into the soil. If it’s dry all the way down, you’re good to go!

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When watering, pour water at the base of the plant until all the soil is entirely drenched and water begins to run out of the bottom of the pot. It’s not the amount of water you give them that kills succulents, it’s giving it to them too frequently. Try to avoid watering the leaves of succulents as well – they only take in water from their roots. In fact, water sitting on the leaves can act as a magnifying glass for the sun and burn your plants!

Aloe vera Soil Requirements

Fast-draining soils are a must for Aloe vera. They rely on their soil to remove excess moisture from their roots, otherwise the plant will drown. These soils typically have very little organic matter (stuff like peat or humus) and are mostly comprised of inorganic substrates (pebbles, sand, perlite, etc.) Unfortunately, most plants you buy from large retailers are not potted in the correct soil. When you bring your plant home, you’ll want to repot it immediately into a new pot with new soil.

If you want to save money in the long run, you are best off making your own succulent soil. Buying some perlite or builder’s sand to add to a ready made cactus soil will stretch your dollar while giving you quality soil. If you only have a few succulents or don’t want to get your hands too messy, we have compiled a list of the best commercially-available succulent soils.

Propagating Aloe vera

This succulent is one of those no-fuss propagators. It occasionally produce pups, little clones of the parents, that grow in the soil alongside their mother. On one hand it’s great because the plant will propagate without any help from you. On the other hand, it does it at its own pace.

Rarely, however, do you hear people complaining about the rate at which Aloe vera propagates. In fact, it’s usually the opposite. After they reach maturity, the should propagate very frequently. If you’re having trouble gettings pups, vary watering. Some people report that allowing the plant to go thirsty for a while increases the chance of pupping. Also note that many Aloes prefer to be slightly root-bound, so make sure they’re not in a pot that’s too large!

To separate pups from the mother plant, unpot it and clean the roots. Try to disentangle them as much as possible, but you’ll probably need

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to snip off the pup. Use either a very sharp, clean knife or some garden scissors. Snip the root in such a way that it favors the baby – mom has plenty more roots.

Like most plants, Aloe vera can and do bloom. They have very pretty red, orange, or yellow flowers that last a couple weeks. You could pollinate them and gather seeds, of course, but it takes a long time to grow succulents from seeds.

Uses for Aloe vera

This succulent is an incredibly versatile plant. It can be, and has been, used for almost everything. Here are some of our favorites (and the science to support them)!

Aloe vera for Sun Burn

Perhaps the most common use for this succulent is for relieving sunburn. My own mother certainly prescribed it when I was younger! Science has examined how effective it is, and the result is probably-maybe.

To treat burns with aloe, simply pluck a fat leaf. Slice off the thick skin, like you’re peeling a carrot. That gel inside will provide cool relief (although you’ll be sticky afterwards!). Rub it directly on burn.

Aloe vera to Lower Blood Sugar

For the Type II diabetics among us, aloe might be your new friend! Including 2 tablespoons of aloe juice in your diet each day was shown to be effective at reducing blood sugar levels! You can make smoothies with aloe gel if you want, or you can buy yummy drinks like this one at most grocery stores.

Aloe vera for Heartburn Relief

A 2013 study listed aloe as a plant capable of reducing the pain from heartburn! They said drinking a few ounces when you eat can not only suppress the pain, but also help to heal the damaged tissue! Talk about superfood!

Aloe vera for Acne

The Indian Journal of Dermatology published a brief that includes aloe as a treatment for acne. Rubbing the gel on affected skin daily for a few days should show improvement. You can squeeze the gel into a jar rather than plucking a new leaf every day! Refrigerate it so it doesn’t spoil quickly.

Aloe vera for Constipation

Latex, which occurs naturally in the “peel” of the aloe, is a powerful laxative. Eating a very small amount can help those with bowel problems. Be aware if you have a latex allergy or not before trying this!!

Where to Buy Aloe Vera

Come on, I don’t have to tell you this, do I?? Everyone has an aloe! If you don’t, surely you know someone who is trying to give one away! We already discussed how prolific they are.

If you still can’t find one for free, you can purchase them just about anywhere. Every store that sells plants will sell Aloe vera. That includes grocery stores and home improvement stores!

If you want to buy some online, Mountain Crest Gardens has an excellent selection of succulents – including aloe. They always ship very healthy plants, very quickly. Of course, you can purchase aloe on Amazon as well if you think that’s easier.

That’s all-oe for now, folks! What do you think? Is there anything we missed??

Growing Aloe Outdoors: Can You Grow Aloe Outside

Aloe is not only a lovely succulent plant but also an excellent natural medicinal to have around the home. It is commonly grown as a house plant but a lucky few zones can grow them year around outdoors. Some varieties have a cold tolerance below 32 F. (0 C.) with a bit of protection.

Growing Conditions for Aloes

Aloe plants are native to Africa and grow in many climates. There are over 400 species of aloe, with Aloe vera one of the best known. Aloe vera is not frost tolerant and cannot withstand chilling temperatures, but there are alpine varieties that have cold tolerance to nearly freezing.

Aloe grows in USDA zones 8 to 11 outdoors. Can you grow aloe outside of these zones? You can in the summer in a container, but you should move it indoors for the cold season.

Aloes grow in poor soil with good drainage. They require full sun for at least six hours per day but best growth is found where they receive at least eight hours of bright light. The growing conditions for aloes vary in their native habitat. Aloe polyphylla is a variety that is grown in the mountains of Lesotho and there are others which thrive in coastal or grassland locations.

The plants store water in their leaves, which means they can go long periods without water. They do need regular watering but are very tolerant of drought conditions for short periods.

Aloe Plants in the Garden

As a rule, you cannot grow the Aloe vera plant outside of its recommended zones except in a container in summer, then move the plant indoors to a sunny location for the winter. In areas that have milder climates, you can grow wide variety of aloe plants in the garden.

Try Aloe arborescens and Aloe ferox. Both are quite hardy specimens that will do well outside even in moist temperate zones.

Aloes are good as stand alone plants or produce lovely displays when combined with other succulents in a container. Try growing aloe outdoors in a container that will also allow you to bring them indoors if a freeze threatens.

How Can You Grow Aloe Outside?

Placing your aloe plant outdoors in appropriate zones doesn’t require any special care as long as the site is sunny and the soil is loose and gritty. In other regions, either keep the plant in a container to move, if necessary, or apply protection.

For occasional freezes, cover the plant with a large plastic container if the cold period is just overnight. If the cold snap is longer, you will need to spread a thick mulch or straw around the root base to also protect the root zone.

Growing aloe outdoors in beds where the cold is consistent and long in duration is not recommended. To save the plant, just keep it in a pot and move it outside when temperatures are warm. Gradually expose the plant to light when transitioning to outdoor life to prevent sunburn and let it acclimate to the new conditions.

Aloe Vera grows best in full sun or LIGHT shade. It doesn’t like being overwatered (the leaves will grow long and slender with a very pale yellow green color). I’ve never seen Aloe Vera succumb to sunburn if it is watered properly. It can handle drought pretty well, but don’t let the soil dry out for a long time. It prefers warmer climates so northeastern US may not be best. It also prefers drier climates, high humidity will cause more wilting.

To use Aloe Vera for burns or in a drink, you want to use the GEL, not the sap. The sap is yellowish and does have a very strong and disgusting smell. Note also that contact with the sap can irritate your skin, or if ingested, can make you sick. Use gloves when cutting Aloe and wash your hands WITH SOAP if you end up touching any of the sap.

When cutting Aloe leaves, use a clean, sharp knife or pruning shears, and cut the whole leaf off the plant. Don’t cut just a piece of a leaf because although the leaf will seal itself back up, the leaf will most likely not last much longer anyway. Always cut leaves from the BASE of the plant, never new growth. They’re bigger at the bottom, easier to separate the skin and sap from the gel, and it will not stunt the growth from the top.

When harvesting the Aloe GEL (not sap!!!!), slice the leaves down the sides first to get rid of the sharp, pointed edges. The cross-section of the leaf should now look like a layered cake with the skin on top, then sap, then the translucent/transparent gel, then sap, then the skin again on the bottom. Slice the top layer of skin off, then the bottom, taking as much of that disgusting smelling yellow sap with it as you can. Any remaining sap or skin should be cut from the gel as well. Rise the sap off the gel thouroughly (do NOT use soap) and pat dry with a paper towel. It may be wise to cut the leaf in half to make it shorter and easier to handle with a knife as well.

Only use a small amount of this gel (crushed, minced, cubed, etc) if you are going to ingest it. Too much can upset your stomach and make you sick. Try mixing it with water, coconut water, or in a smoothie instead of eating it straight. To use on a burn, it can be applied directly as long as there is no sap in the mix. Do not use Aloe on anything more than a first degree burn (simple sunburn or if you accidentally touched a hot pan or something). If you have boils on your skin, you need to go to a hospital. Lol.

The tall stalks on the Aloe Vera plant that have little yellow or light pinkish pods that look like little bananas are indeed the flowers. They don’t provide much to the plant but are aesthetic nonetheless. Leave them on the plant until all the flowers have bloomed (they start at the bottom of the stalk and bloom one by one to the top) and have fallen off or dried out. You can then cut this stalk off as it serves no purpose anymore. There is no gel in this part of the plant.

Aloe Vera is a succulent plant and will most likely sprout suckers or “pups” from the base of the mother (main) plant. You can leave them but note that they will compete for water and sun. I choose to pull them. Pull back some of the dirt until you can see the roots, grab the entire pup (not just a leaf) and pull firmly. Recover the area with dirt. If you pull a pup from the mother successfully, with roots of its own that is, you can plant these and they will become another self-sustaining plant. Pups can sprout from the mother from the first year, all the way to a plant’s death and may even overtake the mother if it is old enough that it can’t compete anymore.

Try not to plant an Aloe Vera in an area that receives high winds, has loose soils, freezing temperatures, is prone to flooding, or is heavily overshadowed. They like bright light and warm temperatures. You can grow them indoors so long as you can provide that. Again, do not overwater. Their roots are small (being a succulent and all) but they’re built to tolerate a desert-like environment. If the leaves begin to brown, curl, or fall off, it’s an obvious sign of stress and it needs attending. Brown leaves probably mean it isn’t getting enough water and too much sunlight, or too much water and not enough sunlight. If they begin to curl, it’s probably just too low of a temperature. Warm it up and give it more sun. If the leaves are falling off, it has been watered too much. If there is a smell when you pull off dying leaves, the plant probably has root rot. An easy (and free) remedy I’ve found is drying out the soil. Pull back some soil to expose as much of the base of the plant as possible without showing the roots. Do not mulch the plant. This will keep moisture in the soil, you want to dry it out. Leave it exposed for a few days. Make sure all affected leaves are removed and only healthy leaves remain. Do not water the plant and cover it from rain if possible. Once the plant has sealed its cuts from the leaves and the trunk has dried out, replace the soil. If it happens again, the soil mixture is probably not correct (add sand) or it is not receiving enough sun to evaporate excess water. See if there is a leak in irrigation (if you have that) and seal it. Proper drainage is imperative. The plant will naturally shed leaves but only from the base and they will dry out naturally. They will turn brown and crispy. These should be pulled right off when there is no moisture left in the leaf to avoid creating a habitat for pests or standing water in the leaf crevasses. If the leaves in the crown of the plant are dying, your plant will not likely recover and it’s probably best to start over.

I hope this info helps. Aloe Vera is not difficult to grow and the problems some of you are experiencing don’t seem like life or death situations for the plant. It can grow rapidly at first, then seem to stall a few years in, but it’s normal. Aloe plants rarely get more than 3 or 4 feet tall and wide and rarely live more than 10-12 years without care. Aloe plants make wonderful landscape additions and their health benefits are some of the best out there. Good luck growing!

Aloe Vera Plants

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