Aloe vera is a perennial herb (Aloe), a member of the lilac family. Aloe vera has about 500 species, is widely distributed, and is considered an invasive species in many parts of the world. It is native to Africa, or more precisely, to the driest regions of Africa. Aloe vera is very drought tolerant.
It is an evergreen perennial plant that grows wild in tropical, semi-tropical, and arid climates worldwide. It has been cultivated for commercial products, mainly as a topical treatment for centuries. In addition, the species is attractive for decoration and is successful indoors as a potted plant.
It is used in many consumer products, including beverages, skin lotions, cosmetics, ointments, or gel for minor burns and sunburns. There is little clinical evidence of the effectiveness or safety of Aloe vera extract as a cosmetic or topical medication. The name is derived from the Latin aloe and vera (“true”).
CHARACTERISTICS OF ALOE VERA
The leaf plates of Aloe vera, which are part of the rosette, grow from the roots and in most cases they are fleshy. Some species have spines on their leaves, while others do not. Some species have a waxy sheen on their leaves. During flowering, the flowers are red, yellow, or orange. The shape of the inflorescence can vary from female to cone-shaped, depending on the species. The most common flowers are bell-shaped or tubular.
Some species have medicinal value and are therefore used as alternative medicine. For example, Aloe vera juice helps to treat pustules and burns faster. It is also used to make face masks due to its regenerative and rejuvenating properties. In addition, the leaves are used as a laxative. Not only are there many Aloe vera species, but also many varieties are cultivated.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF CULTIVATION OF ALOE VERA
- Flowering. Aloe vera grows as an ornamental and medicinal plant.
- Brightness. More sunlight is needed. Sometimes in winter, it is better to provide light.
- Temperature. The flower grows well at normal room temperature during the spring and summer months. However, in winter, the room temperature should not exceed 57 °F (14 °C).
- Watering. During the vegetative period, the substrate in the pot is moistened as soon as its top layer dries out. In winter, water less frequently, preferably after the surface of the potting soil has dried out after two days. When watering, make sure that the liquid does not enter the rosette of the leaves.
- Humidity. Aloe vera normally grows at the typical humidity of the living area.
- Fertilization. Fertilize every 4 weeks from the latter part of spring to the first week of fall, using mineral fertilizers.
- Dormancy period. It starts in the second half of the year and ends in mid-spring.
- Transplanting. Shrubs are transplanted at the beginning of the vegetative period, every two years for young shrubs and every four years for older ones.
- Soil. Leaf and turf soil and sand (1:2:1).
- Propagation. Root shoot and seed production.
- Pests. Aphids, scale, mealybugs, and spider mites.
- Diseases. The plant will only get sick if it is not proper to care for. It most often suffers from rot, which appears as a result of over-watering.
- Its value. Some species of Aloe vera have medicinal value. They have anti-inflammatory, immune-stimulating, wound healing, antibacterial, regenerative, and other properties.
HOW TO CARE FOR ALOE VERA AT HOME
Aloe vera is a light-loving plant and is best planted in a south-facing window so that it is not exposed to direct sunlight. Plants that have been in the shade for a long time will gradually become accustomed to bright sunlight. In winter, the shrub sometimes needs extra light; for this purpose, daylight bulbs can be used.
In the summer, Aloe vera develops and grows within the normal room temperature range. During the warmer months, it can be moved into the fresh air and protected from precipitation. If you do not take your plant outside in the summer, it is recommended that you plan to ventilate it. In winter, Aloe vera plants have a dormant period, so they should be kept in the shade – at a temperature of no more than 57 °F (14 °C). If the weather warms up, it will stretch more vigorously because the winter sun does not provide it with the necessary amount of light.
During the growing season, water Aloe vera once the surface of the potting soil has dried out. Watering should be reduced in the winter, but the root ball should not be allowed to dry out. When wetting the substrate, make sure that no liquid gets inside the leaves, as this can lead to trunk rot, which can kill the shrub.
This flower grows and normally develops at any humidity level.
For Aloe vera to flower, it needs a dormant period, which can only be achieved with long light hours and low temperatures. Unfortunately, this is difficult to achieve on a flat surface, so the plant is rarely seen to flower.
The frequency of fertilization is every 4 weeks from the latter part of spring to the beginning of autumn. Fertilizer should not be added to the soil mixture when the shrub is dormant.
Transplanting Aloe vera
A suitable substrate for Aloe vera should include turf and leaf soil and sand (2:1:1). For friable soil, it is mixed with a small amount of charcoal and small pieces of brick. Repot only when necessary, usually every few years for young plants and every four years for older plants.
ALOE VERA PROPAGATION METHODS
Aloe vera can be easily propagated from seed. Place a well-drained layer in the bottom of the container, then fill it with a sandy mixture and sow the seeds. Seeds are sown in the last week of winter or the first week of spring. The seeds should be watered and aired regularly. Protect them from direct sunlight and keep the air temperature at about 68 °F (20 °C). When the seedlings are 30 days old, they will be released into their respective containers. When it has been transplanted for 3 months, the seedlings will need to be nested again in larger containers and then cared for in the same way as adult shrubs.
Propagation by shoots
To propagate Aloe vera by shoots, use the same potting soil as when sowing seeds. In spring or the first weeks of summer, separate the young shoots from the roots and plant them in a separate container. Once the shrubs have rooted and begun to grow, care for them is the same as for adult plants.
ALOE VERA DISEASES AND PESTS
If Aloe vera is not properly cared for, it can cause the following problems.
- The leaves have faded and are wilted. This may be caused by over frequent watering as the surface of the potting soil does not have enough time to dry. An unsuitable substrate may also be the culprit.
- The shoots will become elongated. If there is not enough light, the shrub will be actively pulled back and as a result, it will lose its decorative qualities. To avoid this, you may consider using daylight for longer daylight hours.
- Rot appears on the shoots and roots. Root rot can occur due to too frequent or excessive watering. Stem rot is often caused by liquid entering the socket when watering and is more likely to occur if the room is cooler. Choose the best watering method for Aloe vera, cut off any diseased parts of the shrub, and transplant it into the fresh substrate.
- The tips of the leaves will turn brown. This plant has fairly low humidity requirements. However, if the air is too dry, you will need to increase the humidity. Very little watering will cause brown spots to form on the edges of the leaves.
- Dark spots appear on the leaves. Shrubs should not be exposed to wind, and very cold temperatures below 46 °F (8 °C) can also harm them. Ventilate the room regularly, but keep it out of the wind.
- Pests. Scabies, mealybugs, aphids, and spider mites can infest shrubs.
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