Additional Plant Care
Aloe vera can be propagated through offsets, also known as "pups", which are small plants that grow from the base of the mother plant. To propagate an aloe plant, wait until the offset has grown to be at least a few inches tall and has its own set of leaves. Then, carefully remove the offset from the mother plant using a clean, sharp knife or scissors. Allow the offset to dry for a few days, and then plant it in a well-draining soil mix. Water the newly planted offset sparingly at first, allowing the soil to dry out partially between waterings. As the plant becomes established, increase the frequency of watering.
While aloe vera is often used in medicinal and cosmetic products, it can be toxic to both humans and animals if ingested. The sap or latex in the plant contains anthraquinones, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps if consumed in large quantities. Aloe can also cause skin irritation or allergic reactions in some individuals. Pets, especially cats and dogs, may experience similar symptoms if they ingest the plant. It is important to keep aloe vera plants out of reach of children and pets and to seek medical attention if they are accidentally consumed.
Aloe plants need to be repotted so they have enough room to grow and so the soil can be refreshed. Aloe plants should be repotted in the spring or summer, when they are actively growing. To repot a plant, gently take it out of its current pot and loosen the soil around its roots. Cut off any dead or damaged roots and move the plant to a new pot that is one size bigger. Use a mixture of 50% perlite or sand and soil that drains well. Put the newly re-potted plant somewhere bright and sunny and give it a lot of water. Don't water the plant for a few days after repotting it to give it time to get used to its new home.
Aloes can be trimmed to get rid of dead, broken, or too many leaves. To do this, cut the leaf as close to the base as you can with a clean, sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears. If the plant is heavy at the top, you can also prune the rosette of leaves at the top to get it to grow more branches and become bushier. When repotting, make sure to get rid of any roots that are brown or soft, and don't cut into the stem because that can hurt the plant. Wearing gloves is important when pruning aloe plants because the sap can be irritating to the skin.
Use a balanced fertilizer with a ratio of 10-10-10 or 15-15-15 for N, P, and K to feed an aloe plant. Fertilize your aloe plant every two weeks during the growing season (spring and summer). Fertilize only once a month during the dormant season (fall and winter). Make sure to water down the fertilizer to half its strength or less to keep the roots of the plant from getting burned. Put the fertilizer on the soil around the plant's base and give it a lot of water. If you'd rather not use chemicals, you can use a solution of worm castings or compost tea that has been watered down.
Aloe likes a soil mix that is a little sandy and a little bit acidic. Mixing equal parts of sand, perlite, and peat moss or coco coir makes a good soil mix for aloe plants. This will keep the soil from holding on to too much water, which can cause root rot. Aloe plants also like nutrient-rich soil, so adding a slow-release fertilizer to the soil mix before planting is a good idea. Aloe plants should also be kept in a terracotta pot that drains well so that they don't get too much water.