Aloe there! Get it?
Aloe vera, commonly referred to as the savior of sunburnt skin, has a plethora of classifications including perennial, succulent and xerophytic. Aloe plants can be grown indoors and outdoors, part of how they’re versatile and low maintenance. This makes aloe vera a common household plant.
Many people keep aloe vera plants in their kitchens for design and medicinal uses. In fact, snapping an aloe leaf, splitting it open and placing it on sunburnt skin can speed up your skin’s healing time.
Convenient right? Now keeping your aloe vera plant alive is a responsibility in itself. Here’s the good news: aloe vera plant care can be minimal compared to the great benefits of the aloe plant. The not-so-good news: you might have to sit through more corny puns in this aloe vera plant care guide.
Aloe Vera Plant Overview
Aloe vera originated in the tropical climates of Africa and established its popularity around the world for its health benefits. Some basic examples of aloe vera benefits include anti-inflammatory action, laxative effects, anti-aging effects and wound healing.
Similar to the plant’s benefits, aloe vera can grow quite large. The aloe vera plant can grow up to three feet in height, but average height is one to two feet tall. Many people recognize an aloe plant for its long, spiny leaves that shoot out from the center. These green leaves give the plant dramatic height. Green plants like aloe vera can bring life into any space, making them the perfect gift for any occasion.
One of the most well-liked characteristics of the aloe plant is its drought tolerance. A University of Florida report advises to only water your aloe vera plant when the top inch of soil is dry. Actively growing aloe plants also thrive in temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees, which makes the average room temperatures favorable for growth. If you are forgetful when it comes to plant care, the aloe vera plant may be the best fit for you.
Types of Aloe Vera Plants
Now that we know some general facts about aloe vera, let’s discuss different types of aloe vera plants. Aloe vera plants come in a variety of textures and heights. Some types include tiger aloe, lace aloe and blue aloe.
Tiger or Partridge-Breasted Aloe (Aloe variegata)
Aloe variegata is a small succulent that grows up to a foot tall with leaves as long as six inches. This aloe plant’s leaves have a green and white striped texture to them, hence the “tiger” nickname. In comparison to the tiger plant’s leaf size, the flower tends to be the largest part of the partridge-breasted aloe, reaching up to 18 inches.
Lace Aloe (Aloe aristata)
Lace aloe, like tiger aloe, is a stemless plant with dark green leaves that reach up to four inches long. During fall months, lace aloe can develop terminal panicles, which reach 20 inches in height, and a few inch-long orange flowers. Their petite size can make them a good fit for the indoors.
Blue Elf Aloe (Aloe ‘Blue Elf’)
Blue aloe, like the name reveals, has a bluish-white pigment and stretches up to 24 inches wide. This type of aloe is native to South Africa and requires sufficient draining to grow strong. Salmon colored flowers bloom in late winter and spring months and attract hummingbirds.
How to Care for an Aloe Vera Plant
Aloe vera plant care can be quite easy for first-time plant owners or for those who tend to neglect plants. In general, aloe vera plants need plenty of sunlight, minimal regular watering and warm temperatures.
Light: Aloe vera plants need to be housed in a bright location with some direct sun in winter months. An odd fact about aloe vera is it can sunburn just like us. If you move an aloe vera into direct sunlight from a relatively shady location, the sun can do harm.
Water: Aloe vera plants are drought resistant, so they can survive with minimal watering. However, not watering your aloe vera plant will shorten its lifespan. An appropriate way to water an aloe vera plant is to water thoroughly and let the excess water drain. Then, water again when the top inch of soil is dry. This allows for optimal aloe vera growth.
An indication that your aloe vera plant is not receiving enough water is brown leaf tips. However, a more common indication of improper watering is black spots on the leaves due to overwatering. Overwatering can be more dangerous than under watering because it could lead to root rot.
Temperatures: The aloe vera plant can live in temperatures from 50 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. When growing aloe vera indoors, room temperatures of 60–75 degrees Fahrenheit are preferred for optimal plant growth.
Toxicity: Aloe plants are poisonous to dogs and cats. Common symptoms that indicate poisoning are vomiting, depression, anorexia and changes in urine color. The aloe vera plant carries anthraquinone glycosides which increase bowel movements commonly resulting in vomiting and diarrhea. If you have a furry friend at home, consider purchasing aloe vera and other small indoor plants that fit on table tops.
Pests: Aloe can occasionally be infested with Aceria aloinis, commonly referred to as aloe mite. These mites are nearly invisible to the human eye. Under a microscope, people can identify this scheming mite as worm-like.
Many aloe vera plant owners don’t recognize their plant has mites until damage is visible. Some indicators of aloe mites include warty growth on leaves and stems. Once infested with these lumps, they are nearly impossible to reverse. Complete removal of the plant is recommended to avoid further damage to other plants because these mites travel in the wind.
Problems: While problems are rare because they are an easy going plant, overwatering is one of the most common sources of improper aloe vera plant care. Signs an aloe vera plant is overwatered include brown, droopy leaves and soft spots. Repotting the plant in half soil and half sand could return the plant back to its strong, green color.
Repotting: Repotting aloe vera plants is more important for young plants as they outgrow their spaces. The repotting process is simple and carefree. First, take note of any offsets, remove them and save them for propagation purposes. Once out of the old pot, repot the aloe plant in cactus potting mix.
Propagation: Seasons best for the propagation of aloe vera are summer and spring. Remove any offsets by cutting them and drying for one to two days. This helps prevent the sap from escaping. Unlike repotting a growing aloe plant, propagation requires a sandy potting mix. This can be made at home with all-purpose potting mix and sand split equally.
Common Aloe Vera Plant Questions and Concerns
Aloe vera plant care isn’t always easy for everyone, especially if you’re a first-time plant owner. Here are some quick answers to frequently asked questions about aloe vera plants.
Do aloe plants need direct sunlight?
Aloe plants need about six hours of direct sunlight; however, be cautious because immediately moving an aloe plant from a shady area to direct sun can cause an aloe plant to sunburn.
Do aloe vera plants clean the air?
Aloe vera plants clean the air of formaldehyde and benzene, products found in chemical-based cleaners. This makes them a great indoor plant for kitchens and bedrooms. Furthermore, more pure air results in easier breathing and a better night’s sleep.
Should I fertilize my aloe plant?
Fertilizing your aloe plant is not always necessary. Aloe vera plants are classified as succulents, so they can salvage nutrients in harsh soil. Some recommend fertilizing aloe plants one to two times a year.
Why are the tips of my aloe plant turning yellow?
Tips of aloe plants turning yellow could be due to improper watering or too much direct light. Refer to the section above on aloe plant care for best practices.
What is aloe vera good for?
Aloe vera is good for fighting cavities and healing burns. The FDA approved of aloe vera as an over-the-counter medication for skin burns in 1959. In addition, aloe vera was found to be effective in fighting cavities in a ScienceDaily report.
What is aloe vera juice good for?
Aloe vera juice is good for aiding digestion. The compound anthraquinones increases intestinal water which can relieve constipation. Proceed with caution because consumption of aloe vera by your pet can lead to moderate poisoning.
Say “aloe” to your little plant and browse our pre-planted succulents and cactuses. These make great displays for kitchen window sills and help bring the outdoors inside. Aloe vera and other succulents are great first plants to adopt due to their low maintenance and self-sufficiency.
Pop them in a light-exposed room and watch your little friends grow!
Sources: PetPoisonHotline | World of Succulents (1,2,3) | PlantsRescue | MotherNatureNetwork | OrganicFacts