The genus name Aloe has been derived from the Greek word, ἀλόη (alóē, “aloes”) which means “Ahalim” in Hebrew. A Scottish botanist, Philip Miller gave Aloe vera, its scientific name, Aloe vera Barbadensis Miller since the plant belongs to Barbados (eastern Caribbean island). But most experts do not believe that the plant is native to Barbados since they were supposedly brought there by Spaniards (Spain).But all of this doesn’t matter anymore.Anybody can grow aloe vera wherever he or she wants to.
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Planting Aloevera Through Cuttings
You can grow Aloe vera plant through leaf cuttings but the most successful method of aloe plant propagation, is from its offsets (pups). You can remove the baby aloe plant from the mother plant as it becomes one-fifth the size of its parent and has several set of leaves.
Separating Aloe Pups
- Before separating aloe pups, observe the size of the baby plant and the set of leaves it contains. Once the aloe pup attains the right size, remove the soil surrounding the base of the aloe pup.
- After proper examination of the plant, determine the right spot to cut and remove the aloe pup.(it shares its root system with its parent) Now use a sharp, clean knife to cut the aloe pup away from the mother plant.
- When the pup is separated from the mother aloe plant, it should have a complete root system attached with it.
- You can use dry cactus potting mix or a mixture of potting soil and sand to plant the newly removed aloe pups. But before planting the aloe pups, you should leave them open in a warm place for some time (two days) to get better results.
- Allow the baby plant to settle its roots for at least one week’s time and then start watering your aloe pup.
Perfect Timing to Separate Aloe Pups
- You can separate aloe pups to avoid damaging the root system, in late winter or early spring.
- Aloe plants are firm and hardy, so if you fail to remove the pups in early spring, they will likely take it pretty well even in the growing season.
Planting Aloevera Through Seeds
The growth of aloe plants through seeds is pretty easy but the aloe plant must be four or more years old to produce reliable seeds. The time of maturity varies from species to species, but once the plant starts to flower it is able to produce seeds. Aloe seeds are tiny, grayish brown to black and flat. Light colored white seeds are not ready to be harvested and will not germinate,so avoid using them.
Propagating Aloe Through Seeds
- Aloe seeds sprout quite easily in a proper container, for seeds to sprout into seedlings.
- You can use a mixture of peat and horticultural sand as a draining medium for the seeds to sprout.
- Any container will do, but flat containers use less soil and create a controlled environment for seedlings,which restricts their growth and development. Lightly dampen the medium and spread the seeds about an inch apart. Cover them with a light dusting of the sand.
- You need to keep the medium moderately moist in bright light, where temperatures are ideally 75° Fahrenheit (23° C.).
- Mist the surface of the soil to keep it moist until you see sprouts. This may take 2 to 4 weeks depending upon the species. Young seedlings should stay on a heat source for two weeks as they develop roots.
Planting Location to Grow Aloe vera
Plant aloe vera in well drained soil since aloe vera plants are adapted for survival in dry conditions. They may rot if planted in soil that collects standing water. You can use a cactus potting mix, or create your own mix using equal parts of soil and gravel.
When planting, be sure to cover the root ball, not allowing the leaves to touch the soil. Place the aloe vera root ball just beneath the surface of the soil. The green leaves may rot if partially buried in soil.
Planting Time to Grow Aloe vera
Aloe vera plants prefer 8–10 hours of sunlight a day as they grow best in warm or hot temperatures They are capable of surviving low temperatures in a more dormant state. However, they may suffer harm if exposed to temperatures below 25ºF (-4ºC). You can start propagating aloevera in early spring or late winter because usually you will see the aloevera pups, at that time.
[ READ ABOUT OTHER PLANTS THAT REPEL INSECTS ]
Grow Aloe vera in Pots
If you are planning to grow Aloe vera in a container, make sure the container has a hole in the base for water to drain through. Aloe vera plants are adapted for survival in dry conditions, and may rot if planted in soil that collects standing water. You can use a cactus potting mix, or create your own mix using equal parts soil, sand, and gravel. Place the Aloe vera root ball just below the soil surface. The sunniest windows are those facing west or south if you live in the northern hemisphere, or those facing west or north if you live in the southern hemisphere.
Spacing to Grow Aloe vera
Aloe vera plants have relatively short roots and heavy leaves. Provide several inches of space between plants, as they grow outward from the center.
How to Take Care of Aloe vera ?
The first step in aloe plant care is to realize that this plant is a succulent, native to tropical regions and does best in dry conditions. Aloevera will perform best outdoors at a sunny site where soil is loose and gritty. Since it is not frost tolerant, it cannot withstand chilling temperatures. They can also be potted, especially in spring with 8 to 10 hours of sunlight and warmth as they go dormant during winter for a prolonged period of time.
Watering to Grow Aloe vera
Aloevera plants do not require much water so let the soil dry at least two inches below the surface before watering them again. In some of the regions, during the summer season, aloevera requires watering on a daily basis (April to October). You should always remember that over watering will lead to root rot and fungus, so it is very important to avoid this.
If you’ve just re-potted your aloevera pup, wait two or three days before watering it. This gives the roots, time to adjust to the new soil before taking in water.
Sunny Spot to grow Aloe vera
Aloevera plants are made of 95 percent water so even a slight frost will freeze them and the plant will turn into mush. Though aloevera does fine in areas with indirect sunlight but a sunny kitchen or bathroom window will be best for your aloevera plant in pots. If you live in a warm growing zone and are planting your aloe outdoors, choose a place that gets indirect sun (six to eight hours per day).
Pests that commonly affect aloevera plant are mealy bugs, stoody molds, aphids, mites, sap-sucking insects and alternaria leaf spot. Mealy bugs are flat and brown or tan and they like to suck on the sap from aloe plants. To prevent these pests, you can use a natural, non-toxic pesticide on your aloevera plant.
Fertilizing Your Herb
Aloe plants do not usually require any fertilizer, so be careful not to over fertilize the plant as it will harm the plant’s development. Aloevera plants grow vigorously from April to September so providing some fertilizer during these months can help in your aloe plant’s better growth. A low nitrogen, high phosphorous and low potassium fertilizer will encourage healthy and fleashy growth of your plant. You can add one part fertilizer with five parts of water and use it on the days when you water your aloe vera plant.
The soil around the aloe plant should be free of grass and weeds so you will have to remove weeds regularly if the plant is outdoors.
How to Harvest Aloevera?
Aloevera is easy to grow and harvest. Plants that are mature and are planted in ground can be the best pick. When leaf tips of your aloe vera attain a rosy tinge, the leaf is ripe and ready to be harvested.
Picking Right Size Leaves
Large aloe plants usually have a leaf that is at least one foot (30 cm). Smaller, potted plants,have leaves that are around four inches (10 cm) long and at least one inch (2 cm) thick.
Cutting and Cleaning the Leaves
You can use a sharp knife to cut the leaf, as close as possible to the base of the plant. Aloin is a yellow-brown sap that has a bitter taste.This sap starts squirting out once the leaf is cut. After cutting you need to place the cut plant in a jar with the sliced end facing down. Wait for about 10-15 minutes so that aloin can drip out. Clean the leaf with running water, or dampen a paper towel to wipe it clean. Allow the leaf to drip-dry or wipe it gently with a clean cloth.
Chopping leaves into cubes
You can chop aloevera leaves in cubes.The cubes should be about one centimeter (1/2 inch) on all sides. This will make it easier to store and use the gel later. You can store the chopped aloe cubes for gel in a resealable container. You can keep it fresh in the refrigerator for about a week , or up to a month in the freezer.
Collecting Aloevera Gel
- Before you can get at the gel core of the leaf, you’ll need to remove the hard, spine edges on both sides of the leaf.
- Lay your leaf flat on a cutting board. Carefully slice away the skin of the aloe vera leaf. This is the thin, outer green layer you have removed, run your knife between it for the thick, clear gel at the center, and repeat this process for the remaining top layer by flipping the leaf.
Storing Aloevera Gel
You should have slabs of clear aloevera gel and if you see any bits of leaf left on them, trim them off, and feel free to cube the gel for easier storage by cutting them with your knife. Be sure to rinse the aloe vera gel cubes 2-3 times when you’re finished to be sure that it’s free of any aloe latex residue. You can store all of the gel extract you get in a new glass or bowl separate from the water you used to wash the leaves with.