Aloe vera has been used for thousands of years and is touted for its many useful properties. You may find yourself reaching for a bottle of soothing aloe vera gel when you accidentally cut yourself or spend a bit too much time in the sun. However, in the future, you can ditch the bottle and harvest it fresh if you decide to grow your own aloe plant. Here’s how to do it.
How to pot an aloe vera plant
Aloe plants are succulents so they’re quite low maintenance. All you need to purchase is cacti or succulent soil, some pebbles, sand, or perlite, and a pot, preferably terra cotta as it’s fast-drying.
Mix the cacti soil with the pebbles to ensure proper drainage and place the mixture in the pot. When repotting your aloe plant, make sure to shake off all the dirt from its previous pot. Fill the new pot three-fourths full with the pebble and succulent soil mixture, place the aloe in the pot, and then fill the rest of the space with soil, leaving three-fourths of an inch free at the top. Don’t water directly after replanting, as this can inhibit the plant from making new roots. Repeat the process with a larger pot once your aloe looks like it may be outgrowing its current home.
How to care for an aloe vera plant
Aloe naturally lives in sunny, dry, and hot climates, so it’s best to keep yours in a bright space that gets a lot of indirect sunlight. Wait until the soil dries out completely before watering it again. This will end up being about once every two weeks. When you do water, make sure all the liquid is draining properly and not stagnating at the bottom of the pot.
How to prune an aloe vera plant
If the tops of your aloe plant shrivel and turn brown, don’t fret — you can cut a bit below the brown part to prevent any further shriveling, but use your best judgment. Sometimes it may be better to cut the full leaf. When de-leafing or trimming, make sure to cut off the leaves on the outside because the newest leaves emerge from the middle. Try to cut as close to the base as possible when removing full leaves.
How to harvest the aloe from an aloe vera plant
To harvest aloe, cut only three or four leaves from your plant to avoid stunting its growth. Cut at the base of the leaf, trim off the prickly parts, and then give it a thorough rinse with water. Once that’s done, cut the leaf into cubes and use a knife to carve out the meaty inside from the leaf, allowing any of the yellow sap to drip off. You can grab a cube whenever you need one or throw the lot in a blender and strain them to extract the gel. Make sure to check with your doctor before using aloe as any kind of topical remedy.
Additional resources: Indian Journal of Dermatology — Aloe vera: a short review