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November 20, 2010

The Fantastic Aloe


I love aloe. I refuse to live anywhere without an aloe plant. There is such a wide range of uses. Aiding in weight loss, acne, burns, scars, are just some of the many uses. Aloe are very easy to grow and are long lasting. I don't even remember how old big momma is but she has produced loads of offspring that have been sold and given to friends. I do not want to focus so much on her medicinal uses, instead I will focus on the care. However I have included a couple links for more information concerning Aloe Vera.

link 1  |  link 2 | link 3


Container Aloe
Since I live in an apartment, my aloe has always been in a pot. She was purchased from a store but the toxins have long since left her system (I will go into this another time). Recently I have had her in nothing but soil and some pebbles to provide some drainage but I know she is not producing as much as she used to so I will be changing her home. Aloes do not require lots of water or nit-picking. They just need sun, room to grow and soil with great drainage. The best I have found for aloe over the years is a 50/50 mix of sand and soil.

 

I use sand that is used for kids play areas. I noticed less toxins in this and I can buy in large amounts. I make my soil moist prior to adding the sand (I keep my soil in rubbermaid containers because I found it keeps them moist, like you just bought it from the store. No dried out begging for water soil here!), I noticed that when I go to add water later I do not over water. Just mix the sand and soil, no special mixing technique. Just mix. Just drop your aloe in a hole, not too deep, they do not grow deep roots (in containers from my experience). Just make sure it is down enough to stand up on its own. If you need to you can use a stick or spike of some nature to assistant, and remove once aloe is steady in its new home.


Trimming Aloe
Sometimes the aloe gets too happy and needs to be trimmed down. I do this when the aloe reaches a certain height because balcony space in limited. Trimming an aloe is MUCH MUCH easier than you think. I suggest laying down some paper or cloth to catch the dirt and dripping from the aloe as you trim. All you need to do is remove from the pot, and lay down. Make sure you have a sharp knife near by. Bread knife works great by the way. Make sure the soil is moist when it is time to trim. If it is dry, water lightly and trim the next day.

Decide how much you want to cut. If you need to remove leaves do so by gripping tightly (wear gloves if need be. I am used to it) pull each leaf downward, it will just peel off.



Once you have the leaves peeled off you will see lovely fresh skin. Now do not freak out. Chop off the amount you need or want gone. Do not worry about the roots, it will re-root very quickly. Toss the cut piece in the compost or try planting it and see if that will sprout. Do not water until your soil is bone dry. In my experience of trimming, I noticed my plant rooted quicker when the soil was moist and I waited to water. Why I do not know. These are hardy plants so do not be fearful of causing too much damage.


That is that! Trimmed aloe ready to produce more pups. IF your aloe is not producing check your soil. If conditions are not where they'd like them to be they will go dormant until they feel their space is set up properly. Also colder climates may have some issues with aloe. Make sure you keep them in sun or a warm room. They will grow indoors. Just remember moist not wet soil with proper drainage and warmth. That is all there is to it.

Now that you have trimmed your aloe, place back into its pot (DO NOT WATER) Leave it for a couple days. When the soil is dry (stick your finger in, never gauge by the surface), then add water. It is best to use container that allow you to water underneath. Remember its the roots that like water when it comes to plants. Some like to be sprayed but having a soil surface that is too wet can cause mildew and other issues. Always check by stinking your finger into the soil.


Here are some pups ready for a home.

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