Do you know how to grow aloe vera at home? If not, you must add this beautiful ornamental succulent to your houseplant collection. Growing aloe vera plants will offer tons of health and beauty benefits.
Aloe vera is a thick, short-stemmed succulent plant. It is the commercial succulent used by many cosmetic, beverages and healthcare industries to prepare lotions, health drinks, medicines etc.
It is popular for its topical use to treat minor burns and skin irritations. But, aloe vera also has potential health benefits that reduce high cholesterol, detoxify the body, hydrate the skin etc.
This post highlights what aloe vera is and its propagation through baby shoots and cutting. Also, you will know some guidelines on taking care of the aloe vera plant.
Content: How to Grow Aloe Vera at Home?
- What is Aloe Vera?
- How to Propagate Aloe Vera?
- Guidelines on Taking Care of Aloe Vera Plant
What is Aloe Vera?
The term “Aloe vera” is derived from the Arabic word (Alloeh) and Latin word (Vera). Alloeh means “shining bitter substance”, and Vera means “true”. Aloe vera plants are succulents having long, thick, pointed, fleshy green leaves. They resemble a cactus but do not belong to the cactus family.
Taxonomically, the aloe vera plant is a member of the Asphodelaceae family. These are evergreen perennial plants having nearly 300 species. Aloe vera leaves grow from a very short stem and can reach 12-19 inches in length, 1½ – 2½ ft in height and breadth between 3-5 cm. The leaves have serrated edges with a pointed tip.
How to Propagate Aloe Vera?
Propagation of aloe vera from baby shoots is a conventional method with a high success rate. Aloe vera plants will produce baby shoots, also known as offshoots, offsets or pups. Baby shoots are the new shoots that bud off from the base of the mature aloe vera plant. These are usually lighter green than the rest of the plant.
Propagation of aloe vera from a cutting is not the best way of propagating aloe vera plants, or the chances are very slim. Due to high moisture, aloe vera leaves tend to rot before they can take root. Thus, the propagation of the aloe vera plant from a baby shoot is more effective.
Like every plant, aloe vera also needs a good and healthy environment to grow and flourish. Before planting, you have to select an ideal soil and pot.
Pot specifications: First, choose the right kind of container. You can use a terra cotta or ceramic pot that allows the soil to dry quickly. There should be at least one drainage hole at the pot’s base to avoid waterlogging.
Aloe vera likes water, but it hates posing in it for a long. If water does not drain out properly, there could be rotting of roots, wilting of leaves or sometimes death of the plant.
In a pot, there should be 1-2 inches extra room from the width of aloe vera plants. The depth of the pot should be 4-5 inches. After buying a pot, thoroughly rinse it and let it dry completely.
Soil specifications: For succulents, a well-draining potting mix is required. A good potting mix should contain sand, perlite, pumice, and fine bark. Do not use gardening soil. The soil pH should be between 6.0 to 8.0. To adjust the pH, you can add some gardening lime.
Propagation Through Baby Shoots
To plant the baby shoots, follow the given protocol:
- First, search for the baby shoots of aloe vera that are smaller and brighter in colour along the base of the plant. Important considerations while selecting the baby shoots of aloe vera are:
- The size of the baby shoot should be 1/5th of the size of the parent plant.
- It’s the right time to cut the baby shoot when there is the growth of at least four leaves (3-4 inches long).
- It would be best to take out the whole plant from the pot to clearly separate the baby plant from the main plant. Brush away the lodged soil around the roots to see the area where the offshoot joins the main plant.
Note: Offshoots or baby shoots are usually attached to the main plant but have their roots.
- Using a sharp, clean knife, separate the offshoot from the parent plant. Remember that the baby shoot must have some roots attached to it. After separating baby shoots, you can put the main plant back into its pot.
- The pot you are picking must contain drainage holes to drain out excess water. Then place a mesh or screen over the drainage hole to avoid soil from falling out.
- Fill the pot with a well-draining potting mix. Then, create a deep hole to fit the roots and 1/4th of the offshoot.
Optional: You can also dust the rooting hormone powder over the roots of baby shoots. Ground cinnamon or honey is also a good substitute.
- Then, place the baby shoot within the hole, fill the soil around it and slowly pat by not damaging the roots.
Note: Add soil by leaving a space of at least 3/4 inches from the top of the soil.
- Add water to dampen the soil. Aloe vera being succulent, does not need much water. So, do not water it for a week. After a week, you can water your aloe vera normally when the soil dries. It will minimize the occurrence of rot and gives enough time for the plant to form new roots. Also, remember to keep the plant in a warm or sunny spot.
Propagation Through A Cutting
To plant a cutting, follow the given protocol:
- First, search for an aloe leaf that measures 8 centimetres in length.
- Then, using a sharp, clean knife, cut the leaf from the base towards the stem.
- Dry the leaf in a warm place until a film forms over the cut part. This step can take a few days to two weeks. This film will protect the cutting against infection or rotting, as infected leaves won’t survive very long.
- Like most plants, aloe vera likes water but hates sitting in it. The soil will stay soaking wet without a drainage hole and can lead to root rot. So, the pot must contain drainage holes at the base. Then place a mesh or screen over the drainage hole to avoid soil from falling out.
- Fill the pot with a well-draining potting mix.
Optional: You can also fill the bottom of your pot with a layer of gravel to help the pot drain even more.
- Stick 1/3rd of the leaf-cutting side down into the soil.
- Place the pot somewhere warm and sunny area, and water it with care for four weeks. When an aloe leaf develops roots, the leaf usually shrinks or dries. Use a spray bottle to spritz the soil with water. Add little water to moisten the soil, don’t overdo it.
The leaf cuttings produce new roots and shoots under proper conditions. This kind of propagation frequently fails. Excessive watering can cause the rotting of foliage, or in some cases, the foliage rots after it’s been cut from the parent plant. In such a condition, take a new leaf cutting and repeat the process.
Guidelines on Taking Care of Aloe Vera Plant
Here are some guidelines to help you grow a healthy and happy aloe vera plant. It is best to water your aloe vera plants only when the soil becomes dry. Add fertilizer once a year, generally during the spring.
You should keep a check on your plant to avoid unwanted bugs and fungal growth. A bright windowsill is an ideal spot to grow aloe vera indoors. You can also grow aloe vera outdoors under some shed where they can receive bright or indirect sunlight.