Aloe Vera, the plant with a thousand uses

Aloe vera is a very ornamental indoor plant, easy to care for and not demanding at any time during the year.

Aloe vera facts to know

NameAloe vera
Family – Liliaceae (lily family)
Type – indoor plant

Height – 1 ⅓ to 3 feet (0.5 to 1 meter)
Exposure – well-lit
Soil – soil mix + sand

Flowering – March

Its leaves are original and elegant, and it is also used for its medicinal properties, especially in the field of cosmetics.

Where should your aloe vera be placed?

This very resilient plant, that copes extremely well to heat, will thrive both outdoors in summer and indoors over the winter.

Exposure

Aloe vera requires a good deal of light but doesn’t appreciate direct sunlight which tends to dehydrate the plant.
Too much sunlight could quickly dry the leaves and turn them permanently yellow.

Try to place it near a window that gets plenty of light, but avoid having the sun’s rays hit it directly.

Temperature

The temperature of a house or apartment is perfect, because ideal temperatures range from 65 to 70° F (18 to 21° C) all year round.
From May to September, you can bring your plant outdoors without any problems, but do bring it back inside in the evening if nights are cold.

Regular care for Aloe vera

  • Watering in spring and summer

Watering must be moderate but regular, more or less once a week. Best is to water when the surface of the soil has dried out.
Don’t wait too long, especially if it is hot, because the plant could suffer from it.

If tap water in your area is hard, try to find any available spring water, or collect rainwater.
Lukewarm water is better than cold water. The temperature gap could dramatically stress your aloe vera.

  • Watering in fall and winter

Slowly restrict watering during the dormant state.
Wait for the soil to dry off to about an inch deep (a few centimeters) before watering again with lukewarm water.

You’ll water again at a normal rhythm in spring, when the plant starts growing again.

  • Repotting aloe vera

This step is mandatory and must be repeated every 2 or 3 years to a pot slightly larger than the previous one.

Once every 3 years at most, repot your Aloe vera in spring after the blooming.

Upon repotting, choose a pot that is slightly wider across than the previous pot, but not too large. Check that the bottom of the pot lets water drain through holes.

  • Fertilizer

No need to add fertilizer to your Aloe vera.

Collecting Aloe vera gel

Peeling and slicing an Aloe vera leaf to collect the useful gel.Aloe vera gel presents undeniable therapeutic virtues.

To collect this gel, simply cut a leaf off at the base and chop it into pieces about an inch (a couple centimeters) wide.

Slice these pieces lengthwise, and scrape the gel off. Aloe vera gel can be put to use in a great many ways.

If you’re good with the blade, you can also try peeling the skin off in one go!

Aloe vera rooting hormone

Aloe vera gel contains nutrients that increase survival of cuttings. It acts as a natural rooting hormone.

  • Simply collect fresh gel and rub it around the base of the cutting.
  • It’s also possible to wrap thin slices of the gel around the base.
  • It helps regulate moisture, like a natural hydrogel.

Aloe vera flower

Aloe vera flower as seen from above, pink blooms about to open.It’s tricky to get your aloe vera to flower when you aren’t in tropical climates. It may take years for the plant to feel comfortable enough to send up a floral scape, but when it does, it’ll be well worth the wait!

How to make Aloe vera bloom

  • Plants need approximately 4-5 years to mature from the moment they were separated from the mother plant as pups.
  • Acclimatize your aloe vera to a spot that ensures it gets maximum direct sunlight. For indoor plants, ensure they don’t go dry with regular watering and providing a moist atmosphere around it.
  • Separate pups from the mother plant rather early so that sap and nutrients aren’t directed to non-flowering propagation. Pups are the side shoots that appear on a healthy plant.
  • Ensure your soil has enough nutrients by repotting every 2-3 years and eventually adding light fertilizer. Topdress on non-repotting years to replenish soil that has lost nutrients due to being washed out upon watering.

Following these steps will ensure your Aloe vera plant will have the best chances of flowering!

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Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Aloe vera plant shared by SpencerWing under © CC0 1.0
Harvesting Aloe vera gel shared by green.thumbs under © CC BY-NC 2.0
Aloe vera bloom shared by astillview, permission for use granted by author