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How to Grow Aloe Vera: Everything You Need to Know

How to Grow Aloe Vera: Everything You Need to Know

If there’s one thing most people know about aloe vera, it’s the plant’s medicinal properties. If nothing else, many of us have reached for an aloe-enriched cream to banish a nasty sunburn!

Known by the Ancient Egyptians as the “plant of immortality,” aloe vera is a no-fuss and beginner-friendly plant that’s quite easy to grow in your own home. Flourishing either indoors or outdoors, aloe vera can be a good choice for any plant lover—whether you have a green thumb or a black one!

If you’re considering adding this specimen to your plant menagerie, here’s what to know about how to grow aloe vera.

Aloe Vera Plants at a Glance

Like most plants, aloe vera comes in hundreds of varieties, but most plant enthusiasts will be familiar with Aloe barbadensis Miller, which is the easiest to find. Most types of aloe vera are green in colour, though you can sometimes find them in rare shades of red or purple.

These plants grow in a layered shape, with plump leaves rimmed on either side with tiny white spines. Though it isn’t common for them to flower when grown indoors, outdoor succulents will sometimes produce bright yellow flowers on long stalks.

Plant lovers should know that aloe vera’s benefits aren’t limited to mass-produced products. In fact, you can use and store aloe vera gel to treat burns and mosquito bites, moisturize the skin, and more!

However, it’s worth noting that this plant is toxic to both cats and dogs. Be sure to grow it in a place that’s safe from any furry friends in your household, or pick a pet-friendly alternative.

Where to Grow Your Aloe Vera

Like other plants in the succulent family, aloe vera is easiest to grow in bright spaces.

In terms of sunlight, a healthy aloe vera plant will need at least six hours a day. It’s possible to keep one as an indoor plant, but you’ll need to find a bright space that gets a decent amount of sun.

Because aloe vera can tolerate full sun, it’s also possible to grow one outdoors provided the area gets enough sunlight. Note that too much direct sunlight can scorch the plant, however, so it’s also important to consider the amount of shade your aloe is getting as well.

Choosing a Soil Type for Aloe Vera Plants

As a succulent, aloe vera will grow well in almost any cacti or succulent potting soil. The goal is to avoid oversaturation by allowing good drainage. If you don’t have the right potting mix on hand, it’s possible to mix your own by adding perlite or pumice to help with drainage.

It’s also important to remember to use a succulent fertilizer every month or so during the growing season. Follow the directions on the package for the best results.

Periodically, you’ll need to repot your plant and freshen up the soil. The frequency will depend on your plant’s growth, but most plants will need repotting every two to three years. If it’s starting to look as if your aloe has gotten a bit too top-heavy, consider moving it to a larger pot!

Watering Your Aloe Vera

As mentioned above, aloe vera is a succulent—meaning that letting it sit in water can invite root rot. For these plants, infrequent watering is best, though the timing depends on how much sunlight your aloe is getting.

During the growing season, you’ll want to water your aloe when the top five centimetres of potting mix are dry. Make sure to give the plant a deep and thorough watering, and pour the water at the soil level rather than on the leaves themselves. In the winter, you can let the soil dry out to eight to ten centimetres deep.

In all seasons, make sure to let any excess water drain away in full. Once the water has had a chance to pool in the drainage tray, dispose of it.

Harvesting Your Aloe

If you’d like to harvest your aloe for its gel, the task is easier than you might think! Start by grabbing a pair of sharp scissors, and then select a leaf at the bottom of your aloe and cut it off.

Put the leaf into a cup, and allow the clear gel to drain out of it for 10-15 minutes. You can use this gel as mentioned above, and you can discard the leaf.

Pests and Diseases to Watch For

Aloe vera tends to be hardy, but you’ll still want to look out for common pests and diseases.

One of the most common culprits when it comes to an unhealthy aloe is fungus. Be on the lookout for dark spots on the leaves. In addition, aloe vera can succumb to common houseplant pests like aphids and mealybugs.

Organic pest and disease control sprays are your best bet to tackle these issues, and a little preventative treatment every now and then goes a long way.

Know How to Grow Aloe Vera

Before you bring one of these versatile plants into your home, it’s important to know how to grow aloe vera. Whether you’re looking for a plant to use in natural home remedies or a sprightly succulent to decorate a window, aloe may be the best plant for you!

Looking for the perfect plants to add to your growing collection? From low-light shrubs to beginner-friendly options to extra large plants, we have it all! Check out our shop to learn more.

image of Aloe vera plants

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