The leader of the therapeutic properties of Aloe Vera remains less than the simple, almost infallible Aloe Vera plant. Even its popular name “centenarian” suggests that it can withstand almost any kind of care and is very long-lasting. It is no coincidence, however, that the Aloe genus is rarely found among the most decorative species. In order to keep its shape and not grow huge spiny giants, you need to know a few secrets. Basically, it comes down to shape the plant in some way. You will learn How to keep the shape of aloe vera in the ThumbGarden article.
Aloe Plants Are Not The Most Ornamental Genus
The woody aloe vera is hard not to recognize. It gets its name from the straight, sturdy woody shoots on which the narrow fleshy leaves are arranged in an upward row. Their sword-like shape is somewhat disguised by curved, fleshy, spiky, grimy teeth. The leaves do not fade for up to four years.
It is rare for an aloe plant to bloom in a room in late winter. The reddish, pendulous flowers, which are brush-like at the tips of the shoots, bloom only under ideal conditions and at a considerable age. However, ideal conditions are not usually attainable for aloe plants in a room.
For the most part, aloe grows uncontrollably until it becomes a messy, neglected, strange giant. Then, by propagation, it is replaced with younger plants.
If left unchecked, the stems can easily climb more than a meter high and unbranched, creating the appearance of a neglected, unattractive wildflower. Avoiding the loss of compactness is very easy. It does not even require effort, only a willingness to let care become more trivial and on the edge of carelessness. In doing so, steps must be taken to shape it.
The Basic Requirements Of Aloe Vera
The aloe plant has the ability to withstand almost any kind of stress, it is not too demanding. If you want to manipulate the care, you should still stick to the minimum requirements that the plant needs.
- Any temperature will do, as long as it does not fall below 32 °F (0°C). They will grow well in both cool and hot conditions. If you let an aloe plant overwinter: from 41-50 °F (5-10°C); it will stop growing altogether and will not lose its form as quickly in winter. But even without shaping, this measure will prolong the plant’s tightening period.
- Aloe vera is a sun-loving plant. It should only be kept in diffused sunlight and within the confines of a sunny location, because even in semi-mountainous areas the stems will stretch out faster and produce fewer lateral branches.
- Aloe must always be rotated relative to the light source. Its development is uneven and haphazard only if its dependence on light is not taken into account. The pots should be rotated every 2 weeks, clockwise, with an offset of 60 degrees.
- Even a compact canopy needs heavy pots. The fleshy nature of the leaves and the thickness of the shoots mean that the plant weighs a lot and the container must balance the ground portion. Aloe vera is best grown in ceramic pots.
- Aloe vera usually does not get sick, but the plant must be kept clean and dusted off the leaves regularly.
Aloe’s Patience Should Be Tested More
It is no coincidence that Aloe Vera was considered a symbol of patience in ancient Arab countries. The aloe plant’s enviable resilience, unpretentiousness, and ability to withstand drought are truly legendary. And it is these qualities that, unless you want your aloe vera to grow like crazy and stay under control at all times, you would be wise to try them.
Of course, it’s impossible to leave the plant completely unattended or to put it in extreme conditions. However, some care tips will reduce the growth rate and make the plant easier to shape.
First choose a container: To accommodate the above-ground parts, choose a pot that is proportional to the size of the roots and gives them a small space to grow. The maximum diameter of an adult aloe vera pot is 8 inches (20 cm).
The soil for aloe vera should never be “normal” soil with nutrients: the worse the soil, the slower the development of the aloe vera. Even succulents and cactus substrates – are not the best choice.
To further reduce the fertility of an already quite moderate soil, add inert additives to the soil – from brick chips and horny material to perlite and vermiculite. And be sure to add a portion of charcoal. Aloe plants should have a drainage level of at least 2 inches (5 cm).
Water aloe plants as little as possible. Even in summer, when the plants are actively growing, watering should be kept moderate. However, constant summer stress and prolonged drought can both inhibit growth and make rosettes unattractive.
Therefore, it is best to use a different strategy – let the soil dry out almost completely or completely, but not for more than a few days, and then water with a small amount of water. In winter, water very sparingly, once a month, or avoid it altogether.
For the first year after planting or transplanting, it is best not to fertilize the aloe plant at all. Thereafter, it should be limited to a minimum. Two to three summer fertilizations for succulents and cacti should be sufficient.
Aloe vera should not be replanted every year. Only change the soil when there is no other option; a large number of roots will emerge from the drainage holes.
Shaping Is The Key To The Ornamental Qualities Of Aloe Vera
Unless additional regular pruning and restraining measures are taken, even with the recommended care, an aloe plant will grow to 60 inches (1.5 meters) in 3 years without enjoying the long branches and gradually lose its attractiveness from below. Then there is only one solution – rejuvenation or replacement.
Fortunately, pruning of aloe vera is a harvest of healing foliage.
If you remove the most medicinal lower leaves, you can make room for side shoots that grow from the axils, which will form interesting shrubs instead of boring “sticks”.
The lower part of the shoot of Aloe vera bends and looks like a juicy “palm tree”, where the development of new branches slows down the growth of the main branches. When the main branches reach near their optimal height, start removing the lower leaves and trunk formation, 6-12 inches (15-30 cm).
The lateral rosettes can be treated in a more drastic way – they should already be “stripped” at the level of 2-4 inches (5-10 cm). Of course, side shoots are detrimental to the medicinal value of the plant. But not so much that the ornamental value of the plant is sacrificed and they are removed immediately, as some guides suggest.
If a central branch or large lateral branch starts to look too large, it can be safely cut back until the first branch or removed altogether to allow the rest of the branches to develop more freely.
As a “palm group”, an aloe plant can remain attractive for more than 10 years.
If The Old Aloe Vera Has Lost Its Shape
Neglected, overgrown, sagging aloes should not be given another chance if they are not helped to stay compact in time – plants that have lost their shape are actually easier to replace. Aloe vera is one of the easiest succulents to propagate.
The primary propagation method and easiest option for restoring decorative damaged shrubs are cutting. The main propagation method is to cut off the tips of less old, straight, or central lateral branches with a branch diameter of about 0.4 inches (1 cm).
Choosing tiny shoots is not a good decision because in tree-like aloes the strength of the original shoot is surprisingly proportional to the strength, aesthetics, and tillering rate of the new plant.
Cuttings should follow a general rule of thumb – using a sharp, clean blade, strip the lower part of the stem from the leaves by 2 inches (5 cm) in one stroke and allow the cuttings to dry for 1 to 2 weeks. The remaining leaves should not be traumatized.
Plant the dried cuttings immediately in a separate container: fill the pot with soil, moisten it slightly, dip the entire bare stem into a small hole, and cover the cuttings with sand.
Using the leaves below as a guide and support, place the plant firmly on top. However, if the cuttings are not symmetrical, small supports can also be installed.
It is best to place the aloe vera plugs under a cover with regular ventilation for rooting. Warmth and diffused light are sufficient for rooting. Once the young leaves start to grow, the plant can be moved to a permanent place.