Aloe vera is a stemless, succulent plant, mostly adapted in arid and semi-arid areas. The plant may reach to a height of about 90 cm. It usually flowers during the summer season. Aloe vera is commonly grown as an ornamental plant, either indoors or outdoors. As the Aloe plant can tolerate extreme drought conditions, it is one of the favorite medicinal plants for growing in rock gardens and other areas that receive less rainfall. It is also resistant to almost all pests, except few scale insects and bugs, hence maintaining the plant is comparatively easier than other ornamental plants. Let’s take a look at the growing tips for Aloe vera plant.
One of the most important points to be considered while growing Aloe vera plant is that it cannot tolerate heavy frosts and snow. It is due to the fact that more than 90 percent of the plant consists of water. Hence, if you are planning to grow this wonderful medicinal plant, make sure to plant it after frost or make necessary arrangements to protect the plant from frost and snow.
Prepare a moderately fertile potting soil. You can purchase ready-made soil or prepare it on your own by using sandy and well-drained soil, supplemented with dry leaves and humus. Garden soil is not recommended, as it is heavy and not preferable for keeping indoors. Add the potting soil to about two-third of the pot, place the plant at the center and then refill the remaining soil. Then, tamp the soil surrounding the plant.
Speaking about watering the Aloe vera plant, make sure not to over water it. Over irrigation can increase the risk of certain potential diseases and pests. In fact, the amount of water required by the plant varies depending upon the season. For example, during the winter, Aloe plant is nearly dormant and hence, requires a very little moisture. In case of summer season, watering should be done to such an extent that the top soil remains moist.
It is advisable to place the Aloe vera plant in the indirect sunlight to protect it from scorching heat. In winter months, place the plant outdoors; whereas, in summer months, you can keep it in the windowsill. As Aloe vera has spreading roots, you can repot the plant every year for better growth. Another indication is the development of new shoots around the main plant. Remove the new shoots after they attain a height of about 4 inches and plant them on different pots. While repotting the mother plant, always opt for larger pots, rather than using a deeper one. You can trim off the excess roots and replant it in another pot.
For first aid treatments like burns, cuts, wounds and insect bites, you can harvest Aloe vera leaves by cutting them with sharp knives. Then trim the sides of the leaf and slice lengthwise from the center. Take out the transparent leaf sap and apply to the affected area. Due to its multipurpose uses in herbal medicine, Aloe vera is also referred to as Medicinal Aloe.
Commercially, there are two products of Aloe vera, namely, gel and latex. Aloe gel is extracted from the clear leaf pulp, whereas aloe latex or aloe juice is a yellow exudate, extracted from below the leaf epidermis. These two aloe products are used for cosmetic and therapeutic purposes. Though there are several claims regarding health benefits of Aloe vera, there are a very few scientific proofs that support these claims.