Aloe vera is a succulent plant commonly used in gels, creams, ointments, and hand sanitizer, and while it’s been used for thousands of years, today it’s used to calm the symptoms of sunburn or treat cuts and scratches. You might think it’s difficult to grow or care for, but aloe vera is a common house plant that’s pretty easy to grow and harvest. Here’s how to care for your own.
How to pot an aloe vera plant
The best part about aloe plants is that they’re succulents that require minimal care. As long as you’re attentive, keeping them alive requires little maintenance. To start, make sure you’re buying cacti and or succulent soil, which will cost you around $6. Then mix the cacti soil with pebbles, sand, or perlite to ensure proper drainage. Like any succulent, aloe plants are prone to root rot if it’s stuck in standing water. You can also consider planting your aloe vera in a terra cotta pot, which is fast-drying.
When repotting your aloe plant, make sure to remove the aloe from its previous pot and shake off all remaining dirt from its roots. Fill the pot three-fourths full with succulent soil, then place the plant in the pot. Fill the rest of the pot with soil around the plant, leaving three-fourths of an inch free at the top. The Farmer’s Almanac says not to water the plant after replanting, as this can prevent the plant from making new roots. Keep in mind if your aloe plant starts to grow big and tall to the point that it may topple over, it’s time to replant in a bigger pot or prune back its leaves.
How to care for an aloe vera plant
Because aloe naturally lives in desert-like climates, it’s a sun-loving plant. You can keep aloe vera plants in bright, indirect sunlight in your house and water them about every two weeks. Wait until the soil dries out completely before watering again. When you do water, soak the soil and make sure it’s draining properly and not pooling in the pot.
How to prune an aloe vera plant
You’ll often see the tips of an aloe plant turn brown and shrivel, but this isn’t a sign of impending doom. The Succulent Source offers three options: Cut the shriveled part off, cut a little below the brown bit to stop any further browning, or cut off the full leaf (depending on where it is). When it comes to trimming, cut older, outer leaves since new growth comes from the middle. Try to cut as close to the base as possible to remove the full leaf to keep the desired shape.
How to harvest the aloe from an aloe vera plant
Harvesting an aloe plant is relatively simple. According to Healthline, you’ll want to cut only three or four leaves from your plant at a time without stunting the plant’s growth. Cut at the base of the leaf, where the majority of the aloe sits. Then, cut off the prickly parts and wash thoroughly with water. Afterward, cut the leaf into cubes and use a knife to separate the meaty inside from the leaf, letting any yellow sap drip off. You can then either use the cubes as needed, or throw the pieces in a blender and strain to extract the gel. Of course, while aloe vera has many uses, it’s important to consult a doctor before using any type of topical substance.