How to Grow and Care for Healing Aloe Vera Plants
Table of Contents
Aloe Vera, known as the healing plant, is easy to care for indoors or in mild-winter gardens. It is a drought tolerant succulent plant which grows well in dry shade to part sun.
Aloes have bright green stalks that grow up to 1 foot long and up to 2 inches thick They usually have creamy white stripes or dots along the leaves.
aloe vera growth and care
Aloe vera plants grow upright and spread with time by creating clumping offsets. Perennial aloe produces dramatic, bright orange flowers on long stalks in the spring and summer. Used medicinally aloe vera gel is beneficial for burns, minor cuts, scrapes, insect bites and other skin irritations.
Water-wise aloe vera is great for xeriscaping in dry gardens with other succulents and cacti. They don’t mind heat as long as they don’t get too much sun. Aloe does best in light or dappled shade on the porch or on the windowsill in the kitchen. Aloe is even reliable in dry shade. One to two hours of direct sun is plenty.
Dark brown or orange spots on the leaves is a sign of sunburn. Spots can sometimes by crusty or flaky. Sometimes the entire stalk turns orange. Indoors, aloe prefer bright, indirect sunlight. If they are getting sun in a window, keep an eye on them for brown spots. You can either move the plant further away from the window, or give it a screen to add a bit of shade.
Aloe vera is easy to care for and usually only needs water once a month or when the stalks become shriveled. Planted in the ground, it can tolerate more drought and will grow slightly larger.
Aloe plants are cold hardy to about 45 degrees. Mine have survived a light dusting of frost, but they have overhead protection. I wouldn’t leave them outdoor in the open if Jack Frost visits your area frequently. Dark, shriveled stalks are a sign of frost damage on these succulent plants.
Indoors, aloe vera plants are suited to the hot dry conditions of the average home and make excellent houseplants. They will tolerate a few hours of sun a day, but should be fine anywhere with lots of bright, indirect sunlight.
Aloe vera plants form offset pups and will eventually become a clump of plants. It is easy to tease out the small plants. They will have their own roots and be ready to grow immediately.
My plant started out in a small 4″ pot from the nursery. Normally, you should repot plants in a slightly larger pot. But I planted my aloe in a huge 12″ container, knowing it would fill in. Who has time to repot their plants all the time? They are easy to pull away from the mother plant, so you can give them to friends or spread them around the garden.
To keep the pot from looking empty while the aloe plant was filling in, I planted a small trailing succulent around the edges called Rosary Plant. The two have similar cultivation needs, so they get along great and look terrific.
After the first year, my aloe created lots of offsets and filled in the pot nicely. The new shoots are easy to tease out from the main plant so I can repot them or give them to friends.
Aloe vera cuttings are also easy to root
Fresh cuttings need to scar over so the wet cut will get a thin film over it. Ususally this will only take a few hours, but you can actually wait days before your cutting must be planted.
Put at least 1/3 of the cutting under the ground. Either use a cactus soil mix or make your own by mixing in sharp sand or vermiculite to help the soil drain quickly. Keep the soil moist for the first few weeks while your aloe transplant develops roots.
The newly planted stalk may shrivel while it lives off the stored energy, this is normal. Resist the temptation to overwater. Like all succulent plants and cacti, aloe vera will rot if it sits in a wet pot.
Aloe Vera Gel for Skin Care
Aloe vera is famous for its healing benefits and is commonly grown in kitchen gardens to help with minor burns and other skin problems. To use aloe, work with one inch chunks cut from the tips of the leaves. Peel off the spines on the edge of the stalk and cut open the chunk. Squeeze out the aloe juice and pulp onto sunburns or other skin irritations.
Spread it around with your fingers or the aloe peel. It will feel cold on sunburned skin. As it dries, the juice may feel sticky at first, but will eventually dry out, leaving a slight green tint (relax, it comes off). Apply 1 – 2 times a day to cool off burns and help heal skin.
I was amazed at how well it worked on my baby’s diaper rash when nothing else helped. First, I’d slather the skin with aloe gel, then put the remaining pulp into his diaper and wrap it all up.
Make sure you have removed all of the outer skin first!
Usually the rash was cleared up in a few hours. Fresh is best, studies suggest aloe starts to loose its properties within an hour of picking.
Healing aloe vera is an easy to grow plant indoors or out, with outstanding health benefits and makes a great addition to any garden.
Aloe vera is an herbaceous perennial in the family Liliaceae grown for its succulent leaves which have a variety of culinary and medicinal uses. The Aloe vera plant has a short, stout stem and a rosette of fleshy, lanceolate leaves which have a serrated margin of small white teeth. The leaves may be flecked with white and are pale green or gray-green in color. Aloe vera plants produce a conspicuous inflorescence composed of densely packed pendulous yellow flowers on a spike which can be up to 90 cm (35 in) in height. The plant itself can grow to be 1 m (3 ft) in height and can live for up to 100 years if well cared for. Aloe vera may also be called Aloe barbadensis or Aloe perfoliata and is indigenous to eastern and southern Africa.
Aloe vera plant
Aloe plants producing suckers
Aloe plant from above
Aloe vera flower spike
Cut leaves showing Aloe pulp ‹ ×
Aloe vera plants are grown for the extraction of the gel inside the leaves. The gel is used in desserts, yogurts and beverages. The gel is also commonly used as a home remedy for treatment of burns.
Aloe vera gel being used in the preparation of a dessert ‹ ×
Basic requirements Aloe vera can be grown in a wide range of soils providing that they are well-draining. Aloe is commonly found growing in very nutrient poor soil in their natural range. Aloes are very drought tolerant but they will not tolerate frosts due to their succulent leaves. Aloe vera plants do well in pots and can be kept indoors if positioned in a bright, sunny spot. Plants grown in pots should be planted in a well-draining potting medium such as those used for cacti. Propagation Aloe vera can be grown from seed, but is most easily propagated from suckers which are readily produced by the mother plant. The suckers are commonly referred to as “pups”. The pups should be cut from the main root by gently uprooting the mother plant and finding the point of attachment. The young plant should be cut from the parent using a sharp knife. Pups can be safely removed when they have several sets of leaves. The young plants should be planted in their own pot and watered deeply. Refrain from overwatering to force the growth of new roots. If multiple plants are being planted, provide them with individual pots or plant at least 60 cm (24 in) apart outdoors. General care and maintenance Aloe plant are generally very easy to care for but care should be taken to avoid overwatering. The plants should be watered deeply but allowed to dry out before the next watering. Check the soil prior to watering. Allow the soil to dry down to a depth of 7.5 to 10 cm (3-4 in) for older, well-established plants or 3.5-5 cm (1-2 in) for younger plants. In addition, although Aloe plants require lots of lights, sitting them in full sun can be harmful and it is best to position potted Aloes in a bright window. If the plant is receiving too much sun, the leaves will begin to turn brown.
Fertilizer being prepared for cultivation of Aloe plants in Kenya
Aloe farm in Chhattisgarh, India ‹ ×
Das, N & Chattopadhay, R. N. (2004). Commercial Cultivation of Aloe. Natural Product Radiance. Volume 3. Issue 2. Available at: http://nopr.niscair.res.in/bitstream/123456789/9406/1/NPR%203(2)%2085-87.pdf. . Free to access Oudhia, P. (2001). Ghrita kumari or Guar patha. Purdue University Center for New Crops and Plant Products. Available at: http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/CropFactSheets/aloe.html. . Free to access UC Davis Botanical Conservatory (2009). The Genus Aloe. Botanical Notes. Issue 1. Volume 1. Available at: http://greenhouse.ucdavis.edu/files/botnot_01-01.00.pdf. Free to access
The white spots on the squash leaves are almost certainly powdery mildew. Powdery mildew is a fungus and squash plants are very susceptible to infection. It can also spread very easily between plants and you can see that it is already starting to spread to neighboring plants. It begins by producing very characteristic powdery circular spots on the leaves. These spots grow larger and will eventually cover the whole leaf causing it to turn yellow. The fungus may also spread to other parts of the plants such as the stems, flowers or fruit.
The best way to prevent powdery mildew is really to take the necessary precautions to prevent it emerging in the first place. Make sure that you plant your squash in full sun and don’t overcrowd them. This ensures maximum air circulation around the plant and allows plants to dry quicker when they get wet. A protective fungicide may be required for squash as it is particularly susceptible. Sulfur can be used on leaves to prevent the emergence of powdery mildew. There are many forms available but wettable sulfur is generally considered to give the best control.
If, as in your case, powdery mildew has already appeared then you will need to treat it with either an horticultural oil or an organic, plant-based oil such as neem oil. This will kill off existing fungi and should be applied as soon as powdery mildew symptoms are observed. Fungicides can be damaging to your plants if used incorrectly so always be sure to read the instructions on the label before applying any fungicide, organic or otherwise, to your plants.
Finally, In the case of your zucchini plant I am inclined to think that the plant is not diseased and it is in fact simply a natural pattern on the leaves. Many zucchini varieties produce mottled leaves. If you look closely, you will see that the patterning is very regular and almost symmetrical. If this was a disease such as cucumber mosaic then the leaf symptoms would be blotchy and irregular.
I don’t think you have anything to worry about this year. Space your plants well to encourage good air circulation and do not over water. Powdery mildew will thrive in wet soil and high humidity. Look out for the patterned leaves on the zucchini again of you grow the same variety, that should reassure you that its natural.