Grown mainly outdoors in the warmer climates, aloe vera remains among the most popular houseplants. Famous for its medicinal qualities, aloe vera is used to soothe skin irritation, hair care and cosmetics. To grow the plant most persons will start with a ‘pup’ which is a cutting from a mature aloe vera plant. The main reason for this is that they tend to grow a little faster. However, using seeds is also a good option considering that mature plants from seeds do not take considerably longer.
When growing aloe vera from seeds, on average you need aloe vera seed, potting soil, compost, plastic planting tray, 3-inch pots, sand, peat and water. To start, mix peat and sand, then use the moist mixture to fill the plastic planting try. Seeds must be sown on top of the mixture then covered by sprinkling compost over them.
Caring for the Aloe Seed after Planting
The tray must then be placed in a location with temperatures between 70°F and 78°F. Trays must be exposed to sufficient light since this will significantly help the seeds to germinate. Sunlight is essential for germination however, a brown discoloration can result from sunburn so light should be indirect.
Without over watering, ensure that the soil is always moist. It can take anywhere between one to four months for germination to start. Once the seedlings have grown large enough to hold without breaking, the 3-inch pots filled with potting soil should be used to transplant them. Pots are used as the permanent beds for aloe vera because they are often grown for ornamental purposes in and around the home.
When using pots, make sure that the potting soil is well-drained and sandy. Some gardeners prefer to use terracotta (unglazed, clay-based ceramic) pots because they are porous. Making sure that there is a drainage hole can be a good step. Commercial pre-packaged or propagation mixes aid good drainage and are recommended where available. Most will have granite grit or coarse sand as well as extra perlite in them. Succulent and cacti mixes tend to eliminate the guess work as well.
In cold areas or seasons, the pots should be stored indoors (whether in the home or a greenhouse) and kept as warm as possible since they are intolerant of heavy snow and frost. Aloe Vera is resistant to most insects so pest control is relatively easy however, scale insects, aphid species and mealy bugs can damage them.
When watering potted plants, it is important that gardeners allow plants to dry completely before watering them again to avoid sogging which will undermine their health and overall growth. During cold months plants tend to dry out slower than normal so reduce watering.
Watch your aloe vera plants for new shoots when they begin to mature. Once shoots are 3 to 4 inches tall they should be removed to their own pots or they will suck the life from their ‘mother plant’. This is characterized by the mature plant turning bright green and spreading its leaves horizontally instead of upward. Leave newly potted plants for 3 weeks before watering, turning grey or brown shortly after repotting is normal and not a sign that they need water.