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8 Secret Hacks Aloe Plant Owner’s Don’t Know

Ever wondered why your aloe plant looks more like a limp noodle than a robust, spiky wonder? Trust me, I’ve been there.

Aloe plants are like the divas of the succulent world—they’ve got their quirks, but once you crack the code, they’re surprisingly low-maintenance and rewarding.

aloe plant

1. Harvesting Aloe Vera Gel Is Easy

Cutting the leaf properly is the first step. I always pick the thick, mature leaves from the outer sections of the plant. Using a sharp knife, I slice the leaf off at the base, ensuring I get a clean cut without damaging the plant.

Preparing the leaf for use is the next step. I rinse the cut leaf under running water to remove dirt. Then I place it on a cutting board, laying it flat. I cut the spiky edges off with the knife before slicing it lengthwise to expose the gel inside.

Scooping out the gel is when things get fun. Using a spoon, I carefully scrape the gooey gel from the leaf, making sure to get as much as possible without getting too close to the green skin. This gel can be used immediately or stored for later use.

Storing the gel is simple. I put the harvested gel in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator. This keeps it fresh for up to a week. For longer storage, I freeze the gel in ice cube trays to use as needed.

Using the gel has fantastic benefits. I apply it directly to my skin for moisturizing or soothing sunburn. The gel can also be mixed into homemade beauty products. One of my favorites is blending the gel with coconut oil to create a hydrating lotion.

2. Aloe Plants Can Get Sunburned

Keep your aloe in a spot with bright, indirect light. Despite its desert origins, aloe can get sunburned if suddenly exposed to too much light. If your aloe plant gets sunburnt, you’ll notice white or light brown discoloration on the green leaves. Once burnt, the leaves will remain that color.

Provide direct sunlight for only a few hours each day. Aim for about 6 hours of light daily, but avoid constant exposure. During summer, be cautious about placing your aloe near windows, especially if the temperatures are high. Too much sunlight can cause severe burns.

Move the plant to a shaded area gradually when transitioning to outdoor light. Don’t just place it directly under the sun; this sudden change can cause sunburn. Instead, move it in and out of direct sunlight over several days to help it adjust.

Monitor leaves for any signs of damage. Apart from discoloration, look for wilting or spots, which could indicate potential sun damage. Acting early can prevent long-term harm to your aloe plant.

Avoid cold drafts. Aloe plants should be kept away from areas with sudden temperature fluctuations. Cold drafts can damage the leaves and halt growth. Keep your aloe in a stable, warm environment, ideally between 55 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. The Secret To Growing Thick, Chunky Aloe Plants

aloe plant closeup

Choose the Right Pot and Soil

Selecting the right pot and soil is key for growing thick, chunky aloe plants. I recommend using a well-draining pot, preferably terracotta, with drainage holes. For soil, go with a mix designed for cacti and succulents, or you can make your own by mixing equal parts of potting soil, sand, and perlite. This ensures that water doesn’t sit at the bottom, which can cause root rot.

Water Sparingly and Correctly

Watering is where many go wrong. Aloes thrive on infrequent watering. Let the soil dry out completely between waterings—usually once every three weeks for indoor plants. When it’s time to water, drench the soil thoroughly until water escapes from the drainage holes. If you’re growing aloe outdoors, adjust your watering schedule depending on the season and rainfall.

Provide Adequate Sunlight

Aloes love sunlight but it needs to be the right kind. Place your plant where it can get bright, indirect light for at least six hours daily. Direct sunlight, especially through windows, can cause sunburn. If your plant isn’t getting enough light, it’ll become leggy and weak. In that case, consider using a grow light to supplement natural light.

Avoid Overfeeding

Resist the urge to over-fertilize your aloe. These plants don’t need much feeding. I recommend using a diluted, half-strength succulent fertilizer once a year during the growing season (spring and summer). Too much fertilizer can actually cause your aloe to get soft and floppy instead of staying thick and chunky.

Repot When Necessary

Repotting your aloe every 2-3 years is essential to maintain its health and encourage growth. When repotting, make sure to use fresh soil and a slightly larger pot. This gives the roots more room to grow, allowing the leaves to become thick and strong. Always be gentle with the roots to avoid any damage during the process.

Watch for Pups

Aloe plants naturally produce offsets or ‘pups’. These little offshoots can crowd the main plant if left unattended. It’s a good idea to remove these pups once they’re a few inches tall and pot them separately. This not only gives you new plants but also helps the parent plant focus its energy on growing thicker leaves.

4. You Can Grow It As An Air Plant

Growing aloe as an air plant is a fun, versatile method. Air plants, also known as epiphytes, don’t need soil to grow. They thrive on nutrients they absorb from the air and occasional watering.

  1. Selecting The Right Plant: Choose a smaller aloe species for air plant growth. Species like Aloe aristata and Aloe juvenna work well due to their compact growth habits.
  2. Preparing The Roots: Gently remove the aloe plant from its soil. Shake off excess dirt and rinse the roots lightly to clean them. Trim back any long roots to encourage the plant to adapt to its new environment.
  3. Mounting The Aloe: Secure the aloe on a supportive structure. You can use items like driftwood, rocks, or shells. Use a non-toxic adhesive or floral wire to attach the plant securely.
  4. Providing Light: Place the mounted aloe in a spot with bright, indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight to prevent overheating and burning the leaves.
  5. Watering: Mist the aloe with water every few days. Ensure there’s good airflow to help the plant dry quickly and prevent rot. You can also soak the plant in water for an hour every two weeks.
  6. Ensuring Temperature and Humidity: Maintain a comfortable temperature range between 55°F and 85°F. Aloe doesn’t need high humidity, so average indoor conditions are perfect.

Using these tricks, your aloe can flourish even as an air plant, adding a unique touch to your home decor.

5. Pups Are The Best Way To Propagate

Pups, or offshoots, are the easiest way to propagate aloe plants. This method ensures a higher success rate. Start by observing your mature aloe plant for any baby plants growing around its base or edges.

Choose Healthy Pups. Pick the healthiest and strongest-looking pup. It’ll have a better chance of thriving on its own. Look for a pup that’s at least a couple of inches tall and has several leaves.

Separate Carefully. Use a clean knife or gardening shears to cut the pup away from the mother plant. Make sure to include some of the roots attached to the pup for better transplant success.

Prepare Soil. Fill a small pot with a well-draining soil mix. Aloe plants prefer sandy or cactus soil. Ensure the pot has drainage holes to prevent root rot.

Plant The Pup. Make a small hole in the soil and insert the pup. Firm the soil around the base to keep it upright. Water lightly to settle the soil, but make sure not to over-water since aloe plants thrive with less moisture.

Provide Proper Conditions. Place the potted pup in a location with bright, indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight to prevent damage. Keep the soil slightly moist but allow it to dry out between waterings.

Monitor Growth. Give the pup a few weeks to establish its roots. Look for new growth, which indicates that the pup has adapted well.

Transplant If Necessary. Once the pup outgrows its pot, move it to a larger pot or plant it in the garden if you live in a climate suitable for growing aloe outdoors.

By following these steps, you can easily propagate aloe vera using pups, ensuring the continued health and beauty of your plants.

6. Know If It’s Root or Base Rot

Aloe plant

Signs of Root Rot

Noticing squishy, discolored leaves? That’s a telltale sign of root rot. The plant’s leaves might turn brown or black and feel mushy. Sometimes, the base of the plant will look wilted. You might catch a whiff of a nasty, rotting smell when the soil is disturbed.

Cause of Root Rot

Overwatering is the main culprit. Aloe plants hate sitting in soaked soil. Without proper drainage, water pools at the root, leading to rot. Poorly draining soil or a pot without drainage holes can also cause issues.

Preventing Root Rot

Using a terracotta pot helps since it’s porous; water can evaporate, keeping the soil dry. Always use well-draining soil mixed with horticultural grit or perlite. Make sure your pot has a drainage hole to prevent water from accumulating at the bottom.

Treating Root Rot

Start by removing the aloe from its pot and gently shake off the soil. Inspect the roots and trim off any rotting, brown, or black parts using sterilized scissors or a knife. Let the healthy roots dry for a day before repotting. It’s best to use fresh, dry soil and a clean pot.

Post-Treatment Care

After repotting, water sparingly. It’s key to let the soil dry out between waterings. Place the aloe in a bright spot but avoid direct sunlight. Keep an eye on the plant for any signs of recovery or additional rot. Over time, adjust your watering schedule to ensure the roots stay healthy and rot-free.

7. You Can Train Aloe To Grow Straight Up

aloe plant in pot

Choose the Right Pot

Pick a pot with good drainage. Terracotta pots work best. They allow air circulation and help stabilize the plant.

Provide Adequate Light

Place your aloe in bright, indirect sunlight. Rotate the pot every couple of weeks to ensure even light distribution. This prevents the plant from leaning toward the light source.

Use Well-Draining Soil

Opt for a well-draining succulent mix. This keeps the roots healthy and helps the plant stand firm.

Water Sparingly

Water your aloe deeply but infrequently. Let the soil dry out completely between waterings. Over-watering can cause the plant to become top-heavy and lose structure.

Stake If Necessary

If your aloe is still leaning, use a stake to support it. Tie the plant gently to avoid damage, and keep the stake in place until the plant strengthens.

Remove Pups

Remove any offsets or pups regularly. These baby plants can divert energy away from the main plant, causing imbalance.

Repot When Needed

Repot your aloe every couple of years. This prevents overcrowding and gives the roots more space to grow, enhancing stability.

Monitor for Pests

Check for pests regularly. Infestations can weaken the plant, making it harder to stay upright. Treat any issues promptly.

8. You Can Get Aloe Vera To Bloom

aloe plant blooming

Provide Bright Sunlight

Ensure your aloe vera gets plenty of bright, indirect sunlight. Mimic its natural desert environment by placing it in a sunny spot. If it’s indoors, make sure it’s near a window that gets lots of light.

Maintain Warm Temperatures

Keep the temperature around your aloe vera plant between 55 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Warmth is key to encouraging blooms. If it gets too cold, your aloe might sulk instead of flowering.

Water Sparingly

Water your aloe vera only when the soil is completely dry. Overwatering can prevent blooming and may lead to rot. Desert plants like aloes prefer their roots to dry out between waterings.

Use Well-Draining Soil

Plant your aloe in well-draining soil to avoid waterlogging. A cactus or succulent mix works perfectly. Good drainage helps prevent root rot and mimics natural growing conditions.

Apply Fertilizer

Fertilize your aloe vera sparingly. A little fertilizer added to the water once a month during the growing season boosts blooms. Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer at half strength.

Prune Regularly

Prune your aloe vera to encourage growth and flower production. Trim off any dead or withered leaves. Pruning also helps control the plant’s size and promotes overall health.

Mimic Desert Conditions

To force a bloom, replicate its natural desert environment. Beyond bright light and warmth, ensure occasional dry spells. This can trigger the plant to flower as it would in the wild.