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Article 9

Growing Aloe Plants

Because Aloe plants consist of 95% water, they are extremely frost tender. They can be grown outdoors in warm climates, but in our experience they should NOT be planted in full sun. In their native environment they grow in the shade of larger trees. We have found that full and hot sun causes the leaves to become brown and withered. This can be quickly remedied by placing them in a shady area for a time.

The soil should be moderately fertile, and fast draining. Ideally there should be up to 50% sand content mixed with quality loam. Established plants will survive a drought quite well and should never be over watered.

Because of their popularity, Aloe vera plants are available at almost every garden shop or nursery. Unless you live in area with a very mild climate, it's best to leave your Aloe plant in the pot and place it near a window that gets moderate sun, but not direct. You can move the pot outdoors during the summer months.

Aloe vera is a succulent, and as such, stores a large quantity of water within its leaves and root system. During the winter months, the plant will become somewhat dormant, and utilize very little moisture. During this period watering should be minimal. Allow the soil to become completely dry before giving the plant a cup or two of water. During the summer months, the soil should be completely soaked, but then be allowed to dry again before re-watering. The will not put up with too much water around the base of the leaves and will suffer stem rot if too wet.

Aloes have a shallow, spreading root system, so when it is time to repot choose a wide planter, rather than a deep one. Use a planter with a drainage hole, or provide a 1-2 inch layer of gravel in the bottom of the pot to ensure adequate drainage. Use a good commercial potting mix with extra perlite, granite grit, or coarse sand added as mentioned above. You may also use a packaged 'cacti mix' soil. Fertilize yearly, in the spring with a dilute (half strength), organic bloom type fertilizer such as Raingrow Bloom-A-Long.

Aloes are propagated by removing the offsets that are produced around the base of mature plants, when they are a couple inches tall (or larger). They may also be grown from seed.

We have found that Aloes have a tendency to become very top heavy and may fall over in a small pot because of their heavy moisture laden leaves. They may also spread sideways, sometimes allowing the leaves to 'break' causing the tip tip to touch the ground. This can be avoided by vigilant propping of heavy leaves and planting in a large supportive container.

TAKING CARE OF YOUR ALOE VERA PLANT

Size of Plant - it is often said incorrectly that a plant has to be three to four years old before it is potent enough to be used for healing. Actually, even a very young plant has considerable potency. However, the strength does increase with age and one should have at least one mature plant around the home. For this reason we encourage people to purchases as large Aloe Veras as they have room for in the home. The plants usually grow very slowly in the house.

Indoors and Outdoors - Aloe Vera turns brown in harsh sunlight so it should be kept in indirect light as mentioned above. Because of its high water content It will suffer frost damage very easily, destroying the cellular structure, so it must be protected when danger of heavy frost exists. Other than that, it grows faster outside than inside, Most people grow Aloe Vera as an indoor, ornamental plant.

Repotting - Aloe Vera can stand being root-bound, so repotting is not necessary until the upper plant gets top-heavy. When a plant gets root-bound, it will send out more new shoots or pups. If these are not taken out for replanting when they are 3 to 4 inches high, they will suck the life from the mother plant, which will get bright green and spread its leaves horizontally rather than vertically. The plants will grow in any kind of soil but good drainage is essential. The pups should be repotted when large enough, watered well and not watered again for about 3 weeks, forcing new roots to seek water. The transplanted pup may turn grey or brown for a while, which is normal.

New pups make wonderful presents. Cutting Off Part of a Leaf - it does not harm the plant to harvest part or all of a leaf since the wound is quickly sealed and healed. However, since the leaf will not grow back, one should cut on the leaves closest to the ground. These are also the oldest, therefore the most potent medicinally.

SYMPTOMS OF POOR PLANT CARE
  1. Leaves lie flat instead of upright: Usually caused by insufficient light. Although Aloe Vera turns brown in harsh sunlight, it does need a fair amount of light.
  2. Leaves are thin and curled: Not being watered enough thus using up its own liquid.
  3. Leaves brown: Too much direct Sunshine.
  4. Very slow growth: Probable causes might be too alkaline water or soil, too damp too long, not enough lights too much fertilizer.
  5. Disease or infestation: This is almost non-existent here in the temperate zone (California).


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articles
› A Checklist of Things To Do in the November Garden
› Poinsettia Care in the Home
› Fall Clean-up
› Fall Planting of Trees, Shrubs and Perennials
› Planting Perennials
› A Checklist of Things To Do in the December Garden
› January To Do List
› Fall Planting
› Growing Aloe Plants
› Pruning your Clematis
› Hedges
› Growing Jade Plants
› Planting and Growing Bulbs
› Pleione Formosana
› Caring for Sarracenia - North American Pitcher Plants
› Caring for the Venus Fly Trap - Dionaea muscipula
› Growing Winter Heather
and many more
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