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Grow Aloe Indoors This Winter

by Fern on October 27, 2009

in Indoor Gardening,Winter Gardening

Maybe you have an aloe plant that was happy growing on your balcony this summer and now you need to bring it inside, or perhaps you’re looking for a useful and beautiful plant to spend your gardening energy on during the winter months. Either way, aloes can be grown inside, so long as you provide them with enough light and don’t over water them.

Photo by cromacom

Choosing the Right Plant

If you’re growing aloe purely for it’s intriguing form, then by all means, pick whichever plant you like. There are all sorts of different aloes, and they’re all attractive plants. But if you’re growing Aloe to make a skin salve, you want Aloe vera (sometimes also listed as ‘Aloe barbadensis,’ ‘Aloe indica Royle,’ ‘Aloe perfoliata,’ ‘Aloe vulgaris,’ ‘Chinese Aloe,’ ‘Indian Aloe,’ ‘true Aloe,’ ‘Barbados Aloe,’ ‘burn Aloe,’ or ‘first aid plant’).

What Aloe Vera Needs

To keep your Aloe happy indoors, you want to provide bright sunlight, preferably from a South facing window. Hopefully this spot is also a comfortably warm temperature. An unheated sun porch, garage, or shed is probably not a good choice, as most Aloes don’t like temperatures below 40F.

Plant the Aloe in fast draining soil meant for cacti and succulents, and water your plant only when the soil is dry. Likewise, make sure to use a pot with a drainage hole, don’t use a self-watering pot. If you see the leaves start to shrivel or flop over, you’re waiting too long in between watering. But do not over water! If your Aloe is constantly sitting in soggy soil it will rot and die.

Make More Aloe Plants

When grown inside, an Aloe plant will most likely not bloom, but it will make little offshoots called “pups.” When the pups are about 2 inches long, use a sharp, clean knife to cut them from the mother plant. Make the cut right at the base of the pup. Place the pup in a pot with new moist soil and it will start to grow its own roots shortly.

How to Use Aloe Vera

Aloe has two kinds of juices and only one of them soothes skin burns. First, obviously, if your burn is really serious, don’t treat it with Aloe, go to the doctor. Now to the “juices.” The green surface layer of Aloe exudes yellow/green sap. Don’t use that part, it’s a skin irritant. To use Aloe on a burn, remove a leaf, cut it open and place the exposed center flesh of the leaf directly on the burn and hold it in place. The center flesh has the “good juice.”

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Paige October 27, 2009 at 7:12 am

Thanks for this!
I have been thinking about another type of plant to try in my apartment, in addition to my scraggly little herbs, and this sounds perfect.
And, beautiful photo choice — wow, the colors!

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Sue October 27, 2009 at 1:53 pm

Someone gave me an aloe this summer,and I’ve been wondering what to do with it this winter – so thanks for the info.
Re aloe vera – I use it all the time, but bought from the chemists, not straight from the plant. Not just for burns – it can help any type of skin irritation. Insect bites, allergies, rashes – it may not solve the problem if it’s serious, but it will help. People laugh at me because, wherever I am, I’ve always got a tube with me …
You’ve also beaten me to the videos – I too have a series planned. But you’ve beaten me well and truly – mine are planned for the spring. Oh well -I promise not to copy :)
Sue

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Mary Delle October 27, 2009 at 4:16 pm

I didn’t know all of that information. Even though I can keep mine outside all year long, your plant info was really helpful.

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Helen October 30, 2009 at 1:05 pm

I love aloes and have a few, but never have had them bloom. Maybe I’ll put mine out on the deck next summer and see what happens. Thanks for all the info.

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Kat November 2, 2009 at 2:28 pm

I’m glad you posted this. I actually find aloe looks better grown in partial sun than full sun. The leaves stay much greener and are juicier.

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K November 6, 2009 at 6:31 am

Great post! I haven’t had any aloe plants in years, maybe it’s time to get a couple going..

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Jennah December 7, 2009 at 7:09 pm

At the Amish place where we buy a lot of plants, they have one entire (large!) greenhouse where the whole bottom under each row is lined with baby and parent aloe plants! It’s crazy. There must be hundreds. Makes me afraid to start one for fear it will take over the house!

I was always under the impression they needed a whole lot of light though – might have to try one next year now that I know they aren’t quite as fussy as I thought. Should be happy where a jade is, right?

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