Aloe vera at home
Aloe vera is a beautiful succulent plant: it likes for its vigorous growth, for its autonomy and for the leaves, of a very attractive green-blue. It comes from the tropics and for this reason it adapts quite easily to apartment living. This provided that you offer the right exposure and suitable temperatures throughout the year.
Aloe vera is a succulent that can reach 60 cm in height and develop indefinitely in width (thanks to the abundant production of suckers). It is very decorative not only for the large leaves, but also for the flowering stems, more than a meter high, which it produces in mid-summer.
The ideal location for aloes, as for all succulent plants, is certainly outdoors. In fact, to have a good vegetative growth they require extremely bright and warm exposure. Nevertheless, with some changes, cultivation is also possible indoors. Here are some suggestions for success.
The aloes grown in the apartment should always be kept in very bright rooms. We recommend a room facing South or, even better, a heated stairwell that has a large French window. Certainly the light must be abundant during the summer, even if it is good to avoid being concentrated by the glasses. In the summer months (from June to the end of August), and particularly in the afternoon, we use a light tent. In this way we will avoid the appearance of harmful and unsightly leaf burns.
Aloe vera in winter
In some places it is possible that, during the winter period, temperatures fall for most of the day below 16 ° C. In this case we recommend moving the plant to a slightly less luminous area so as to induce a slight vegetative rest.
Ideal temperatures for aloe
Aloes hardly have problems with high temperatures: the ideal range is around 18-25 ° C, but if the thermometer rises above 30 ° C it will be sufficient to adjust the irrigations.
Instead, pay attention when the thermometer falls below 15 ° C: the plant will certainly enter in vegetative rest. However, we need only begin to fear when we approach 7 ° C, a critical threshold for aloes: in the apartment, especially in inhabited areas, it is quite difficult for it to happen.
Substrate and repotting of aloe
The repotting for these succulents is recommended every year, given their growth in width. We can decide from time to time whether to simply switch to a larger container (at most 4 cm more) or to divide the mother plant from the suckers, only changing the substrate. Adult plants (with vessels over 50 cm in diameter) slow down growth and interventions can therefore be delayed.
As a substrate we recommend a specific product for succulent plants. The ideal, however, is to create a mix of soil in equal measure for green plants and coarse sand (sand and perlite), then adding some field soil.
It is important to create a thick draining layer on the bottom.
We recommend vases that are not too deep, but wide, to allow the development in width typical of this species.
Irrigation and aloe watering
Irrigation is one of the key points for the satisfactory cultivation of succulents. From spring to autumn the administrations must be light but frequent. It is not possible to give a precise cadence because the water needs depend on many factors such as temperature, lighting and environmental humidity. The only reliable method consists in ascertaining the level of soil moisture: insert a finger at least 5 cm deep and administer water only if it is completely dry.
In winter the distributions must be further diluted, especially if the temperature in the house is below 18 ° C. Generally it is not necessary to give water more than once a month: it is only good to make sure that the ground bread does not dry completely.
The fertilizations are necessary only from the spring to the beginning of the autumn. We can opt for a specific product for cacti, following the instructions given. Alternatively, liquid products for green plants are also suitable, to be administered every two months, halving the doses shown on the label.
Pests and diseases of aloe
The aloes kept in the apartment are more prone than others to attack pests.
The most frequent is undoubtedly the cochineal with a shield. If the attack is light we can eliminate it manually. However, if we see that the problem arises cyclically (and maybe even the roots are attacked) it is advisable to use systemic insecticides given by irrigation (good ones in tablets or granules) combined with a distribution of white oil on the aerial parts (keeping to the lower doses).
In very dry environments, red spider mites can also occur: we increase the environmental humidity and use specific products if necessary.