If you’re a new plant mom or dad, and you’re wondering if an aloe plant is a right fit for you, you have nothing to fear. Aloes are easy to maintain. They are tolerant and can survive various adverse conditions. If you need a step-by-step guide on how to grow and care for them indoors, keep reading. But first, let’s cover some basic details that you need to know.
It’s a Succulent: Prickly cacti aren’t the only succulents in the universe. The albeit quirky aloe vera plant belongs to this family. Succulents, in botany, refer to plants that have adapted various parts of themselves (such as their leaves or stems) to storing water for long periods. This is why it isn’t a good idea to overwater them and it’s also a reason why people believe that they thrive on neglect.
Method of Propagation: There are two ways to propagate succulents. It’s either through their cuttings or through their offsets. Planting through cuttings is an ill-advised method and should only be done when absolutely necessary because the chances of new growth are slim to none using this method.
USDA Hardiness Zone: Aloe Vera survives in zones 8, 9, 10, and 11.
Planting Soil: Well-draining soil is best suited for this plant as they do not take too kindly t waterlogging and being overwatered.
Ideal pH Planting Levels: Neutral to slightly alkaline soils with pH levels ranging between 7.0 and 8.5 is the best for growing healthy aloes.
Exposure to Sunlight: Aloes love full exposure to sunlight.
Growing Aloes from Pups Indoors
To plant Aloes from pups indoors, you’ll need the following:
- Knife or Clippers
- Planting pot
- Rooting hormone
- Succulent mix
- Aloe pups
- Spray bottle
Selecting Aloe Pups
Aloe pups, aka offsets, are clones of parent aloe plants. They grow from their roots or stems before they develop roots of their own. This is how a single pup can grow into a clump of interconnected aloe leaves.
When selecting pups, try to get from older aloe plants. The older the aloe, the healthier its pups. Using a sharp knife or a pair of clippers, carefully untangle the offset from its parent plant without cutting its roots. Inspect the pup’s roots for damage. If you see rotten roots, cut them off and leave the good portion intact.
Rooting Hormone to the Rescue
This step is optional and should only be done for offsets with damaged roots. For experienced gardeners, applying rooting hormones to aloe vera could be seen as a paradox because aloe vera gel itself is often used as a rooting hormone for other plants. However, aloes themselves aren’t hormones, rather they contain hormones, called auxins, that aid root formation.
To apply the rooting hormone, simply purchase Bonide BND925. It’s a rooting powder that has IBA (Indole-3-butyric Acid) as its active ingredient and it’s great for succulents. In a dish, pour a small amount of the powder. Moisten the roots of the offsets with water, then dip into the rooting hormone. Ensure that it coats the roots adequately. Now that this has been done, it is time to plant the pup.
Planting the Pup
Fill your planting pot with drainage holes with a succulent plant potting mix.
These mixes already have a hand-blended mix of peat moss, perlite, lime, sand, etc that will be ideal for your aloes. They are fast-draining and will be conducive to the growth of your aloes. Also, your planting pot should be large enough to accommodate your aloe plant once it fully matures to prevent it from tipping over. It shouldn’t be too big though as snug conditions do aloes justice.
Plant the offset in the soil mix and ensure that the potting mix hasn’t been packed down tightly so the roots can breathe.
Once the pups have been planted, do not water them for some days. This gives them time to heal and adjust to the new soil. After a few days, fill in the spray bottle with water, and go ahead to water the soil. Do this once a week.
Growing Aloes from Cuttings Indoors
Before you grow aloes from cuttings, you should know that this method has a lower success rate in comparison with the pup method. But if you have a healthy leaf that broke off and you want to salvage it, this is the method to try. To grow aloes from cuttings indoors here’s what you’ll need:
- A sharp clean knife
- Planting pot
- A mixture of sand and potting soil
- Aloe cutting
- Spray bottle
Prepping Aloe Cuttings
Using a clean sharp knife, cut off a leaf portion from the parent aloe plant. Then dip the cutting in honey and leave it out to dry for a few days or a week. Allowing it to dry helps the cut wound heal as it would prevent it from getting infected. Dipping it honey has the following benefits:
- Due to the sugars, antioxidants, gluconic acid, amino acids, and minerals present in honey, it has antimicrobial and antifungal properties that prevent the cutting from getting infected.
- It provides a cleaner environment for the cutting to grow while stimulating its natural rooting hormones.
Prepping the Soil Mix and Planting Cuttings
In the planting pot, mix equal parts sand and potting soil. This mix is well-draining and will have the right pH balance for growing aloes. Because it’s dangerous to overwater your aloe cutting, I’ll advise that you mix in some water into the soil. The water should be just enough for it to be moist but not waterlogged.
Using your fingers, make a small deep hole that’ll fit the base of the cutting. Plant the cutting deep into this hole.
Watch over your plant carefully and religiously. Check for signs of the cutting turning brown as this is a tell-tale sign that it is dying. Remember that this method has a lower chance of aloe surviving.
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