Plant Care

My simple plant care plan - how to care for your aloe vera as house plants is very simple and can fit into the busiest lifestyle. By my easy maintenance rules I could water 75 pots in half an hour one morning a week! It should work for you too.

a few aloe vera plants lined up for my garage sale

1. Pick a day of the week - (I use Saturday when I start my house work) - and water all your aloe vera plants. Give each plant a dash of water great enough to soak through all the soil in the pot. One or two cups full would do for the average potted aloe vera's plant care. You can water even less.

2. Use the same time to quickly pick out any dead steams or broken pieces.

3. If there are babies - little shoots of new plants coming up - prepare a new pot for them when they reach a height of about 5 to 6 inches or more.

Propagation like this need only happen once or twice a year. The aloe vera is not going to complain if you let the pot fill up with these babies. But you will get more and larger plants if you remove and replant them.

My Secret Plant Care Notes:

There is a secret though to having thriving plants in your home. I've determined that it is in the water you use to water your plants. My mother taught me to water plants with rain water or melted snow water in the winter. Other friends told me their plants always die. They've lost heart to try again.

When I asked about the water they used, they said, 'ordinary tap water.' I wondered if it could make that big a difference. Then I moved into the city last year, and didn't have access to rain water the way I was used to in the early part of winter, (Dad used to fill an indoor barrel with rain water for my plant care). So, now I had to use tap water too. In just a few weeks I could see my plants begin to look droopy and pathetic. I took to bringing in pails of snow and letting the snow melt before I poured the water on my plants. I saw some improvement. I look forward to setting out rain barrels in summer. I'm convinced now that is the reason my aloe vera plants thrived before.

In the meantime, when I have no access to either rain water or snow water, I am boil up a pot of water and cool it before I give the plants a weekly splash. I add a packet of clear gelatin powder by way of apology to the plants. See, plant care is still less bother and work than having pets.

Still, I think most often people over-water their aloe vera. Allow the soil in the pot to dry out between waterings. In winter you could easily go two weeks between waterings, or give it less. Your aloe vera plant is able to take moisture out of the air, so it will love a humid kitchen or bathroom.

I have rarely used fertizliers for my aloe vera. I think I read somewhere that they don't care for it, and since I was busy and could not afford a lot of extras, I just didn't bother. (Except when I was propagating - I have mixed in a pinch of plant food that had come as a gift).

Another helpful thing. My Dad used to say that the type of furnace you have in the house can make a difference. I now agree that it does affect plant care. My parents had a water boiler furnace with water running along copper pipes to the radiators throughout the house, and the heated water in those pipes kept the temperature at a fairly even level throughout the house. If you have a forced air furnace, the registers have these intermittent whoshes of hot air. (I've had two other potted floral plants die because of that lately). Aloe vera can tolerate more abuse than most plants, but if you want them to thrive keep them from irregular drafts. Move them across the room if need be. They will be fine even if not in direct sunlight.

the aloe vera plant I used in the basement bathroom but forgot to water for 4 to 6 months

In fact, I had one aloe vera plant that I kept in the basement bathroom, where it never saw sunlight, and I usually forgot to water it. Often for months on end. But I continued to break pieces off to use for chapped lips, and itchy spots, or scratches. I've got a picture here that I took of it when I was ready to throw it into the garden as compost before moving, simply because I would not have room for it here. You'll notice that it isn't dead yet, and it has a baby (offset) growing up out of the dry root! That plant had not been watered in at least 4 to 6 months!

Frozen aloe vera plants

my frozen aloe vera plants in the unheated porch this last winter

Aloe vera can managed bravely despite lack of water, but I learned one winter that they cannot withstand extremely cold temperature! I put the plants I could not find room for in my house into my unheated front porch in the summer and tried to sell or give awa at every opportunity. Ah, but I live in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and our winter temperatures sometimes drop way down to -30 degrees Celsius, with the windchilll factor making it feel like -48 C; these poor desert lilies simply froze as this photo shows!

I encourage you to get at least one aloe vera plant and USE it! Never mind if it doesn't look beautiful and complete. (You could always grow another just for show, if you like). Once you see how much good it does you, you will begin to appreciate it more, be willing to eat it and be more than willing to remember to water it once a week, and to even start new plants with the babies, known as offsets.

In any case, I assure you that plant care for an aloe vera is not hard.

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