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.”