Aloe


Aloe polyphylla



Contents

  1. Top Tips
  2. Location, Water, Humidity & Fertilisation
  3. Common Issues
  4. Origins, Temperature, Propagation, Repotting & Toxicity




Top Tips & Info

  • Care Difficulty - Easy
  • Aloes must endure periods of droughts in between waters - if you're stuck with when to water it, think of the ukhouseplants' phrase of 'Drenches Between Droughts'.
  • Be careful when watering - allowing excess moisture to sit in the cubbyholes of the stem will result in diseases like southern blight and 'heart rot'. 
  • A few hours of morning or evening sun is mandatory, especially in the winter months.
  • Avoid situating in a dark location, due to the heightened chance of diseases mentioned above.
  • Supplement at monthly intervals all year round, using either a Cactus or Houseplant feed, or a general plant fertiliser.
  • Repot every year or two during the spring, using a Cactus & Succulent potting mix. This is the perfect time to propagate the small offshoots that'll form at the base of the crown. Carry on reading to learn more about the top tips mentioned above.




Location & Light - πŸ”ΈπŸ”ΈπŸ”Έ

A few hours of direct sunlight is a must; shady locations could lead to diseases associated with over-watering. The frequencies of irrigations solely rely on the amount of sunlight is received. If the Aloe begins to develop a discoloured white crown, this is typically down to too little light. Newly-propagated 'pups' must not receive any sunlight as their insufficient root systems will not soak up enough moisture to survive the harsh rays.


Water - πŸ”Έ

During the growing period, thoroughly water the soil every ten to fourteen days, allowing the soil to dry out in between. Winterising any Aloe is essential to maintain good health; keep the plant 'ticking over' by reducing the number of irrigations to every three weeks and avoid over-fertilisation. One word of advice is never allow excess moisture to settle either in the actual crown of the plant or underneath the pot, as both will cause southern blight or even black rot. Under-watering symptoms include drooping leaves, stunted growth, and drying leaves; these can be a range of different issues, including forgetfulness, too much sunlight, or the plant being pot-bound. Over-watering symptoms include root rot, a rotting base, or sudden plant death. Aloes must have sufficient light levels (at least two hours of direct sunlight a day) to counteract the chance of root rot. For more severe cases, click on this link below to learn about how to address root rot.


Humidity -

This is not a factor; however, if the Aloe is situated indoors, a quick hose down from time to time will reduce the number of dust particles covering its leaves.


Fertilisation - πŸ”ΈπŸ”Έ

Feed monthly all year round using either Cactus or Houseplant Feed. Do not directly apply 'ready to pour' fertilisers into the soil without a pre-wash as this will lead to burning roots and yellowed leaves.


Aloe squarrosa
Common Issues with Aloe

Over-watering is the biggest issue when it comes to an Aloe. Typical signs of this include brown leaves with soft spots on the underside of the leaves, basal/crown rot or a collapsed stem. Not only do you have to be mindful of root rot, but you'll also have to think about which plant parts to keep dry. The soil must have periods of droughts to imitate the habitats of Arabian deserts, as well as limiting the chance of root rot. Its central crown must also remain dry at all times to prevent the development of basal rot. The final over-watering heads-up is to avoid waterlogging; there's no point fulfilling the ukhouseplants' phrase, 'drenches in between droughts' if the base of the pot is submerged, as root rot will arise. For any more information about over-watering related issues, be sure to click on this link.

A pale central crown is a typical sign of too little light. As Aloes originate in bright locations around Saudi Arabia, replicate their habitats by offering at least two hours of direct sunlight a day. 

Alternatively, too much sunlight will lead to sun scorch, with typical signs including browning or crispy leaves, dry leaf-edges, sunken leaves, stunted growth and 'pup' death. Although too little light will cause over-watering issues, too much sunlight will negatively affect the plant as well. A location that offers over two hours of sunlight a day will bring the optimum growth for the Aloe. If yours has fallen short of this issue, reduce the amount of sunlight considerably and always be mindful of environmental shock (when too locations offer too different growing conditions). Remove some of the affected leaves and increase irrigations slightly.

Over-supplementing an Aloe will bring nothing but grief in the likes of yellowing leaves and weak, dramatic growth. Although a monthly feed is an excellent way to promote healthy, vigorous growth, dry soil and sharp chemicals from the feeds will quickly lead to the burning of roots. The best advice for this issue is to pre-moisten the soil beforehand; not only will this remove the chemical-edge found in fertilisers, but it will also adversely remove the chance of root burns.

Pendulous flowers will appear in late spring, lasting several weeks.

Dormancy Care & Annual Flowers

Established specimens (2yrs +) will easily bloom during the spring if its previous dormancy period has been served well in the winter. As ukhouseplants been challenged many times on this subject, we've created an acronym to help you through this process - SHORT. The combination of drying soil, cooler temperatures and dark nights will contribute to better flowers in the following season. The following steps must be taken from autumn to winter, to provide the best possible dormancy period.


Sunlight

Provide a few hours of winter sunlight, avoiding dark locations as this will significantly reduce the chance of flowers. An ideal room would be in a semi-heated conservatory or a south-facing window.

Hydration

Reduce waters so that the soil becomes fully dry for two weeks, for the prevention of root rot and to replicate its dormancy period.

Occasional Feeds

One or two feeds with a Cactus & Succulent fertiliser is all that is needed for supplementation, as too nutritious soil will reduce the chance of buds.

Reduce Everything

This one is a reminder to reduce everything - especially the temperature.

Temperature

Reduce the temperature by around 5℃ or place in a room which is within 12 - 15℃  (54 - 59℉).  As most houseplants are sensitive to temperature change, we can't empathise how important this is to replicate their dormancy period. If all of the steps are fulfilled, an established specimen could produce beautiful clusters of flowers in early spring, lasting several weeks.




Origins

Aloe consists of over five hundred species, mostly originating from east and Southern Africa - for example Madagascar, Jordan and some neighbouring islands. Aloes were first formally described in the mid 18th century by Carl Linnaeus using an old English word, alwe, that refers to the scent-similarities of an unknown east Indian tree.


Temperature

10°C - 25°C   (50° - 78°F)
H1b - can be grown outdoors in summer in a sheltered location, but is fine to remain indoors. If you decide to bring this houseplant outdoors, do not allow it to endure more than an hour of direct sunlight a day as this will burn the leaves. Regularly keep an eye out for pests.


Spread

Up to 0.7m in height and 1m in width. The ultimate height will take between 5 - 8 years to achieve.


Pruning

Remove yellowed or dying leaves and plant debris to encourage better growth and improve the all-round appearance. Pruning must be done with clean scissors or shears to reduce the chance of bacterial and fungal diseases; remember to make clean incisions as too much damage can shock the plant.


Propagation

Via seed or offset division. 

Offset (Pup) Division - For this method, it's best to divide in spring or summer and once the offshoots are at least a quarter of the mother plant's size. Remove its pot and place your hand in between the junction that connect the two; soil may have to be brushed away to get a better grip. Gently push the pup downwards while supporting the mother plant until you hear a snap. Cautiously separate the root systems, keeping great care in keeping them damage-free. Place the new plantlet in a small pot with a well-draining potting mix, much similar to the original soil, and maintain the same care routines. Cactus & Succulent compost is best, or you can make your own using multipurpose compost with added grit or perlite. Provide a bright setting with temperatures around 18°C (64°F) with the majority of the soil drying out in between waters. New leaves should emerge within the six weeks, as long as the soil is kept on the drier to life.

Flowers

Yellow flowers are held by a spike that'll develop each year, reaching up to 70cm in height during the spring. Each flower can last up to several days, with the blooming process lasting several weeks. Ensure to keep the plant slightly more hydrated with a fortnightly feed of Cactus Feed during this time to prolong this period.


Repotting

Repot every three years using grit-based compost. For matured specimens, introduce more grit to promote a stronger root ball as well as the reduction of potential root rot; click on this link for more information on how to perform the perfect transplant.


Diseases & Pests

Common diseases with Aloe are root rot, crown or heart rot, leaf-spot disease and powdery mildew. Keep an eye out for vine weevils (uncommon indoors), scale & mealybugs. Over-watering will lead to both root rot and possible plant death. For more info on how to address any of these issues, hit this link.  Identifying Common Houseplant Pests & Diseases


Toxicity

This genus is classified as poisonous. If parts of the plants are eaten, vomiting, nausea and a loss of appetite could occur. Consumption of large quantities must be dealt with quickly; acquire medical assistance for further information.


Retail Locations

B&Q,  Dobbies,  Homebase,  IKEA,  Online Stores.

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