Aloe Vera


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 Vera 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 labelled fertiliser.
  • Repot every three years during the spring, using a Cactus & Succulent compost; this is the perfect time to propagate the small offshoots that'll form at the crown's base.




Location & Light - 🔸🔸🔸

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 the sun 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 - 🔸

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 to prevent excess moisture from settling either in the actual crown of the plant or underneath the pot, as both will cause southern blight or root 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 yellowing lower leaves, 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, hit the 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. Do not saturate foliage at night due to the heightened chance of powdery mildew.


Fertilisation - 🔸🔸

Supplement monthly all year round, using either Cactus or Houseplant Feed. 'Ready to pour' fertilisers may burn the roots if implemented in dry soil, so premoisten the compost a few minutes before to avoid yellowing leaves.




The typical size that garden centres will stock, costing roughly around £15.



Common Issues with Aloe Vera

Over-watering is the biggest issue when it comes to an Aloe vera; typical signs include brown leaves with soft spots on the under-leaves, basal/crown rot or mould development on the soil. 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, along with limiting the chance of root rot. Its central crown must also remain dry at all times to prevent the development of basal rot. 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 arid locations around Saudi Arabia, replicate their habitats by offering at least two hours of direct sunlight a day, especially during the height of winter.

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 the sun considerably and always be mindful of environmental shock (when two 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 fine 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.

Curled leaves and crispy brown edges are the result of too little water and over-exposure to the sun. Although all Aloes are a superb choice for plants in sunny locations, those that haven't acclimatised to the harsh rays will show signs of sun-scorch and environmental shock. Gradually increase the amount of light every few days, starting from a indirect location to few hours of morning / evening sun over the course of a few weeks. Prolonged exposure will significantly speed the process of dehydration, so consider transplantation into a bigger pot  (in the spring) to wrap the roots around moister soil.



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



Origins

Since its formal classification by Carl Linnaeus in 1753 as Aloe perfoliata, this species has had many names in the 18th and 19th centuries, including A. lava, A. lanzae, and A. vulgaris. The species originate from the Arabian Peninsula but has been naturalised in Africa in recent times. The common name, Aloe vera, was penned by Nicolaas Burman in 1768, with the epithet vera meaning 'true' in Latin. In the first century AD, the species was included in Dioscorides' De Materia Medica stating about its medical benefits.


The Distribution of Aloe vera in Green  &  Artificial Introduction in Blue.


Temperature

8° - 25°C   (46° - 78°F)
H1c  (Hardiness Zone 11)  - Can be grown outdoors between late spring and summer throughout most of the UK while nighttime temperatures are above 8℃ (46℉). If you decide to bring the plant outdoors, don't allow it to endure more than an hour of direct sunlight a day as it may result in sun-scorch. Regularly keep an eye out for pests, especially when re-introducing back indoors.


Spread

Up to 0.7m in height and 1m in width, with the ultimate height taking between 5 - 8 years to achieve.


Pruning

Remove yellow or dying leaves, and plant debris to encourage better-growing conditions. While pruning, always use clean scissors or shears to reduce the chance of bacterial and fungal diseases. Never cut through yellowed tissue as this may cause further damage in the likes of diseases or bacterial infections. Remember to make clean incisions as too-damaged wounds may shock the plant, causing weakened growth and a decline in health.


Propagation

Via Seed, Offset Division via 'Pups' & Stem Cuttings.

Seeds (Easy) - Soak the seeds in lukewarm water for around 24hrs in a dark location, preferably on top of an operating radiator. The best soil to use is a Houseplant-labelled potting mix; however, multipurpose compost with added perlite and sand is as good. Set the seeds around 2cm (1 inch) into the potting mix, resisting the temptation to compact the soil too much. Maintain evenly moist soil and allow the excess water to freely drain from the pot's base to prevent water-logged conditions. The ideal location for successful germination is in a bright, indirect setting with temperatures above 18℃ (64℉) with bottom-heat. Keep the pot in a transparent bag to provide a stable level of humidity, along with longer-lasting soil moisture. Germination may take up to three months, so don't discard any unsuccessful seeds until this threshold has been surpassed. Remove the bag once the seedlings produce their second leaf and then split them up into their own 5cm (2 inches) pots.

Basal Offset Division (Easy) - Your plant will produce several basal offsets that can be separated once they have a sufficient root system, and surpass 8cm in height. If possible, water the soil 24hrs before the main event to reduce the risk of transplant shock, when its dry root systems are over-fingered. Take the plant out of its pot and place your fingers close to the nodal junction - soil may have to be removed for better access. Push the chosen offset downwards until you hear a snap. Separate the foliage and its root system away from the mother plant, mentally noting the high risk of damage - transplant in the appropriate sized pot with a fresh batch of Cactus & Succulent compost. Maintain evenly moist soil and situate it in a bright, indirect location away from any direct sunlight. After four weeks, treat it like a standard specimen, following the care tips above!

Stem Cuttings (Easy) can be taken at the start of spring when there's more than 20cm (7.8 inches) of semi-wooded stem. This will take a while, as the plant will need to reach a certain level of maturity before its base becomes ready. Using clean secateurs, remove the top 20cm of the stem just above the leaves. Set the bottom half of the stem into water for root development, and after three inches of root growth, set the rooted portion into a moist, well-draining potting mix. Although we'd recommend using a Cactus & Succulent-labelled soil, a general-purpose compost with added perlite and sand will work wonders, too. As long as there is a splash of perlite introduced into the mix, oxygen will flow liberally around the cutting's base to reduce the risk of basal rot. Wrap the plant (& its pot) in a transparent bag with small holes to maintain high humidity, to avoid hydration from the rapid moisture loss within the stem. Provide a bright, indirect location with continual soil moisture to quicken the rate of root development. Remove the bag after three weeks and follow the care advice provided at the top of the article.


Flowers

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


Repotting

Repot every three years in spring using a Cactus & Succulent Compost and the next sized pot with adequate drainage. Hydrate the plant 24hrs before the tinkering with the roots to prevent the risk of transplant shock. Add a thin layer of small grit in the pot's base to improve drainage and downplay over-watering. Click here for a detailed step-by-step guide on transplantation, or via this link to learn about repotting with root rot.

If you're still unsure of what to do, never hesitate to send us an email or direct message to get our expert advice on transplantation.


Pests & Diseases

Keep an eye out for mealybugs, spider mite, scale, thrips, whitefly, vine weevils & root mealybugs that'll locate themselves in the cubbyholes and undersides of the leaves, with the exception of the latter two in the soil. Common diseases associated with Aloe vera are root rot, leaf-spot disease, botrytis, rust, powdery mildew & southern blight - click here to learn more about these issues.


Toxicity

This plant 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.



If you need further advice with indoor gardening, never hesitate to send us an email or direct message via the Instagram Page. This could be about your own specific plant, transplantation into a bigger pot, pests or diseases, terrarium ideas, & more!



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