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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Reader Not Sure What to Do with Aloe

Q. Not sure of what to do with this plant, Any suggestions?
A. Aloe doesn't like it in the same spot you might plant a cactus. It likes a little bit more protection from the sun and it also likes improved soils. I would plant it on the east side of a building or the south side if it's getting some filtered light. Northside is possible but there needs to be lots of reflected light. You can plant it in a desert landscape surrounded by rock but in a few years it might not grow very well, turn yellow and begin to dieback to the ground.

It's a succulent so you have to plant it and water it differently from a cactus. It will like more soil amendment such as compost mixed with the soil around its roots at the time of planting. You will have to water it about like a shrub growing in your yard, maybe twice a week or when you see it begin to shrivel.

Water and fertilizer. Because it is not a cactus, it should be watered and fertilized more often. I would fertilize it once or twice a year in the spring and early summer. It will respond very nicely to compost applied to the soil within 6 to 10 inches of the plant, no closer. Then water it in. Water it about every two weeks or when you see it start to shrivel.

Your Aloe vera can be propagated very easily by removing the soil around its roots and cutting off any new "starts" or pups with a sharp knife or pruning shears. If you don't do this every couple of years they will get overgrown.

They make good container plants but like I said you will have to take it out of the container every few years when it starts to get overgrown and divide it, cut off the pups for replanting. If you cut off the pups and lift them from the soil right away, put them in the shade for a day so the cut end has a chance to heal over. Don't plant it with a fresh cut.

You can also take a long sharp knife and cut the soil between the mother plant and the pup. Cutting through the soil will also cut the attachment to the mother plant. Do not lift it but leave it in the soil next to the mother plant for a few weeks. This will give the pup a chance to grow more of its own roots. Then go ahead and lift the pup with a long knife, pushing it up through the soil beneath from beneath it rather than only pulling it from the soil by its leaves. You can replant it in a container or new spot immediately.

As far as the health/medical benefits of aloe, It has a lot of uses. I think you will get a lot of comments from this post so stay tuned.

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