Put A Plant On It | Aloe Edition

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By Of The Wolves / Published by Of The Wolves

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ALOE VERA

Over 400 unique species comprise the Genus Aloe. Despite all the species being worthy of praise, this post focuses solely on aloe vera – easily found, affordable and an excellent, low-maintenance air purifier – it effortlessly aligns with the current "Put a Plant On It" criteria.Featuring a rosette of lance-shaped, fleshy leaves adorned with small whitish teeth (spines), aloe vera appear stemless and grow directly out of the soil. Bold and architectural in form, the aloe vera plant is downright handsome, making it a striking addition to any interior.

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One of the few medicinal species in the Aloe Genus, aloe vera boasts an array of healing properties: 

  • The skin produces bitters that, when taken internally, resolve intestinal woes. 
  • An anti-inflammatory gel, derived from the fleshy interior of the leaves, hydrates and soothes a variety of skin conditions when applied topically. 
  • A nutrient-rich health tonic containing anti-oxidants, enzymes, minerals and more, can be extracted from the center of the leaves. 

In addition to its medicinal value, aloe vera aces indoor air purification. Since it harvests carbon dioxide at night, actively improving the air quality while you sleep, it’s a rock star plant for the bedroom.Read on for instructions and tips to facilitate aloe vera becoming a tool in your self-care arsenal and staple in your home decor.

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VESSELS: 

Found while cruising weekend yard/estate sales, the planters in this post are of mixed age and origin. Markings include: Gardeners Eden (made in Portugal), Bauer, Deroma Italia Terracotta, Ikea and Norden (made in California).

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CARE: 

LIGHT 

  • Bright light!! Though happiest with loads of indirect sun, aloe can also survive in partial light. 
  • Too much direct sunlight may desicate the leaves; too little light, on the other hand, may stunt the plant’s growth.


EARTH 

  • Adores dry, fast draining soil. Mixes designed especially for cacti and succulents are ideal. If regular potting soil is far easier to come by, it will work. For best results add a significant amount of perlite, or pumice.


WATER 

  • Water rarely; about every other week in the summer. During the cooler months, aloe is not as thirsty; adjust both watering quantity and frequency accordingly. After watering, the soil should be damp to the touch, but not drenched. Be sure to allow your soil to dry completely between waterings.
  •  Standing water stunts the plants growth and constantly damp soil causes the roots to rot. 
  • When leaves receive sufficient water they feel cool and moist; if under-watered they may curl and crisp, turning dry, brown and brittle.


CONTAINER 

  • Choose a vessel about an inch or two larger than your plant; the mother plant will generate babies in the space available. 
  • The most critical element is good drainage; consider this when selecting a pot.


PLACEMENT 

  • Allow your aloe vera plenty of indirect light – unobstructed West or South facing windowsills are often ideal. 
  • If you plan to harvest and make use of aloe vera’s medicinal magic, I suggest keeping one in the kitchen window for proximity. 
  • A well lit place in the bedroom also beckons an aloe plant since they work to clear the air at night. 
  • Remember that aloe grows upwards and toward the sun, so make sure it has room to do both of these things.


GROOMING 

  • In order to promote growth, cut leaves that are about 2" away from the soil. 
  • When transplanting, remove all dead or dying leaves as well as old flower stems. Remove pups at this time as well to cultivate new individual plants and to provide more space for the root-ball of the mother aloe.


GROW ON 

  • Aloe is super easy to propagate. The mother plant completes the majority of the labor for you by naturally generating individual rosettes, that when removed create entirely new parent plants. 
  • Transplant a healthy aloe to a slightly larger vessel every 1-2 years. Carefully uproot the entire plant. Shake off the soil. Harvest the pups that have formed; follow the base of the offshoots to the connection with the main root and separate. Replant the parent aloe, positioning the leaves just above the soil line. Do the same with the aloe pups. Wait approximately 4-7 days to water.


Extra Tip: 

  • Aloe leaves grow upward from the center of the base therefore drooping or flat leaves often indicate a lack of sunlight. 
  • Like most plants, aloe vera grows toward the light available to it. In order to maintain balanced growth and keep your aloe tall, rotate its vessel every once in awhile. 
  • To make aloe extra happy and to maximize its purifying function, occasionally dust or wipe the leaves with a damp cloth.


WARNING: Some species In the Aloe Genus are poisonous. Please use caution if utilizing for medicinal purposes. Be certain you are working with an aloe of the healing variety.