If you are starting a medicinal garden on your homestead then aloe should definitely be on your list of plants to include. It is an easy plant to grow and maintain and has so many beneficial uses.
In this post you will learn how to care, propagate and use your aloe plants on your homestead. You may be pleasantly surprised how wonderful this plant is to have around!
What is Aloe Vera?
Aloe is a genus of plants that actually contains over 500 species of succulents. The most commonly known is Aloe Vera, also called “true aloe”. It is a plant commonly found in medicinal gardens as it is considered a natural remedy to many ailments.
This plant can treat many health issues like;
- healing burns
- treating digestive issues
- promoting oral health
- clears acne
- protection from UV light
The Needs of the Plant
Aloe is grown indoors in most climates. However, if you live in a climate that is tropical like here in Florida, you can plant it in the ground!
If you will be growing it in an indoor garden, make sure you have a place for it that receives at least 6 hours of bright, indirect light. If the plant gets too much actual sunlight it will not only dry out the plant, but it will turn the leaves yellow.
If you will be growing your plants outside as I do, just find a nice semi-shady garden spot that doesn’t get direct sunlight very long and you can plant it in the ground.
Planting in a Container
For indoor planting, the needs are pretty simple. For the best conditions for your plant provide the following:
- A porous pot, terra-cotta works great! (glazed pots retain too much water)
- A deep enough pot to completely cover the stem of the plant.
- Drainage holes in the bottom to allow the plant to dry out thoroughly between waterings.
- A potting mix that is made for succulents. (Not potting soil!)
Fill your pot up 3/4 of the way full with your potting mix. You can first put some sort of screening over the bottom to prevent the dirt from falling out. I use a coffee filter.
Place your plant in the center. Allow the plant to sit on the dirt. You do not want to cover the leaves. They should rest on the dirt, not in it.
I fill my pots up until the plant (when sitting on the dirt) are only 1 inch below the rim of the pot. It may sound weird, but do not water your plant for about a week. This gives time for the plant to adjust and grow some new roots.
Planting in the Garden
If you can plant in the medicinal garden outside the process is even simpler. My plants go in a raised bed. I add my succulent mix to the planter box and then space my aloe plants about 2 feet from each other.
After about a week of them being in the garden, I will slowly add some water around the base of the plants so the water can go directly to the roots. I never do overhead watering.
I transplanted aloe into my medicinal garden. In the last two years, we have had some really cold temp’s in the winter, however, it comes back for us even after a freeze.
Our aloe also grows in potting soil that we use for our vegetable gardens. Even though it is not recommended to use this type of soil, I use it because our aloe plants have always been in this type of soil.
Temperatures and Climate Recommendations
Aloe grows best when the temperatures stay between 50 and 85 degrees. If the temperatures will go below 50, either make sure your aloe is brought inside or you provide protection.
Aloe likes a good, deep drink of water. However, allow the first two inches of soil to dry out before watering again. Never let a pan of water stay under your aloe. They do not like wet feet.
When the roots of your Aloe become pot-bound, simply remove the plant, and transplant into a bigger size pot using the same planting method as above.
I do not fertilize my aloe plants because they do not need it. However, if you feel your plants require it at some point, fertilize sparingly, in spring or summer, once only. Use a simple household fertilizer, but dilute it to about 1/2 strength.
What To Do With The Pups
Aloe likes itself so much, that it produces “babies” which are like clones of the parent plant. These are simple to remove.
Simply find where the new plants stem is growing off the mother plant and use a sharp knife to cut it free. Make sure the new plant has at least an inch or so of stem.
Take the new plant and allow the cut end to dry out a bit for a day or so to keep the stem from rotting when you place it in the dirt. I lay mine on a paper towel for about 24 hours or so.
Once the cut end dries out a bit you can plant your new Aloe plant as you did your parent plant. Wait a week and start watering.
Final Thoughts on Aloe
Anyone can grow Aloe! It is an easy plant to propagate and care for. Don’t over water it, provide the right pot and the right sunlight. And before you know it you will have beautiful medicinal plants of your own!
Interesting note* Aloe takes about two years before it makes enough “gel” to use for burns correctly, so let them grow a bit! Want to learn about the growth rate of this remarkable plant? Check out How Fast Does Aloe Vera Grow from Smart Garden Guide.
Do you grow Aloe at home? Does it grow outside or inside? Tell me all about it in the comments below.