The cultivation of aloe vera

The cultivation of aloe vera


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Aloe characteristics


The aloe barbadensis (commonly known as "aloe vera") is one of the most common hobby-level succulents. It combines a beautiful appearance with an extremely simple crop, which grows in pots or in the open ground. It is also held in high regard for its therapeutic virtues: its use must however be extremely prudent and it is advisable to always rely on professionals.

Aloe vera


Aloe vera is a succulent cespitose and pollonant, with leaves arranged in a rosette. They are lanceolate and juicy, up to 50 cm long, of a blue-gray color with pink and toothed margins, equipped with spines. In summer, if properly cultivated, it produces branched stems, even a meter long. At the top they have bright yellow tubular flowers.

Cultivation of aloe vera



The cultivation of aloe is not at all difficult as long as it meets its needs in terms of climate (especially during the summer months), exposure and irrigation.
Climate
This succulent is native to the tropical and subtropical regions. To achieve good growth and avoid the onset of rot we will have to reproduce the climate of those areas as faithfully as possible. The greatest vegetative development occurs with temperatures between 18 and 25 ° C. In winter the plant is able to withstand temperatures up to 5 ° C (although it is better not to go below 7 ° C), as long as the ambient humidity and, above all, the soil is low.
Exposure
Aloes want very bright positions. If we cultivate it at home we must keep it near a window facing South; when the warm weather arrives, if we have a garden or a terrace, it is advisable to move it outside. We avoid however to put it immediately in full sun: we would risk the appearance of leaf burns. Let's expose it gradually: first let's keep it a week in filtered shade, then we will expose it to the sun in the morning and finally for the whole day.

Where to grow it?


In the central-northern regions, pot cultivation is strongly recommended, so that plants can be withdrawn towards November. In the South and on the coasts it is possible to insert them even in the open ground, choosing a location that is very warm and bright even during the winter months. In that case it is important to take care of the soil, making sure that it is perfectly drained. In the case of exceptionally harsh winters, cover can be applied with special fabrics.

Aloe vera cultivation substrate



Substrate
Soil care is very important: if the mixture is well drained we will avoid the onset of rot, very dangerous for this type of plants.
Composition of the vase
We suggest choosing a container that is not too large (with a diameter of at most 4 cm more than the previous one). On the bottom we create a drainage layer (expanded clay) of at least three cm, checking that the drain holes are free. For the substrate we can choose a specific product for cacti. Alternatively you can get a good product by mixing garden soil (not too clay), soil for green plants and coarse sand (or perlite) in equal measure. Before using it we check that the water drains quickly. It is important to place the plant so that the basal leaves do not touch the ground.
In the garden
We dig a large hole and create a thick, gravel-based drainage layer. Then we insert the plant and a mixture obtained with soil for green plants and coarse sand.

Irrigation


Irrigation is the aspect to pay more attention to. It is not true that succulents should be watered little. The water distribution must instead be rather constant, especially during the vegetative period. The point is that you need to irrigate only when the substrate is dry in depth.
For this reason it is impossible to give precise temporal indications: a lot depends on the temperatures in a specific period. Generally, from May to September, it is good to distribute water weekly. In winter it will be enough once a month.

Composting



The aloes, during the vegetative period, require fairly frequent fertilizations to support their growth, quite vigorous. We recommend distributing liquid fertilizer for green plants every 2 months, diluting it twice as much as indicated.

Repotting of the aloe


Given the fast growth (especially due to the production of suckers), it is advisable to repot every year. We choose a container that is not too bigger and possibly a bowl, wider than it is deep.

Pests and diseases of aloe



The most common parasite is without doubt the cochineal. Small attacks can be counteracted by manually removing the insects and disinfecting with alcohol. Otherwise (especially if they have attacked the roots) it is good to resort to systemic insecticides.

The cultivation of aloe vera: Propagation


The simplest method is the division of the suckers: let us place them, even if they are without roots, in a soil for cacti. It can also be used for sowing fresh seeds, keeping them at about 21 ° C.