Succulents have quickly become the houseplant favorite for their variety, laid-back care, and cool aesthetic. What’s even better than a plant that you love, is a plant that loves you back! Aloe Vera is a proud member of the succulent family, but also has a secret identity as a super-healer.
Whether you want to bring home your aloe to be a houseplant, superfood, or healing plant, it has all of the same needs as a succulent. These adorable little guys call North Africa home, meaning the best care you can give them is to mimic their arid desert home. Like all succulents, the best way to love them is with a little neglect!
Your Aloe has a hidden identity as a healer! Their most famous claim to fame is their sunburn soothing abilities. Many people will buy processed oils and lotions with the sap infused in them, but with your own aloe vera, you can get their healing benefits straight from the source! Here’s how to get the aloe benefits without hurting your plant:
- Only remove one leaf at a time, and start by taking from the older, larger leaves at the edge
- Cut the leaf near the base with a sharp knife, instead of breaking it off
- Let the yellow sap run out
- Wash the leaf. Cut off the edges, and remove the skin. This will expose white translucent flesh, which is what you’re after!
- Rinse and use
So what can you use it for? In addition to sunburn relief, Aloe has a reputation as a great skin moisturizer and an antibacterial aid for small wounds. It has also been shown to protect the skin from UV damage (so maybe you won’t get that sunburn in the first place)!
Aloe Vera just doesn’t quit. This plant can soothe and repair your skin, but it’s also an air cleaning powerhouse. Ranking in some of the top plants studied by NASA for their air filtering abilities, Aloe greedily devours benzene and formaldehyde from the air, replacing it with oxygen! This little Cinderella purifies the air around you, and you’ll be able to feel the difference.
Aloe Vera Care
The best home for an Aloe has some bright light. Close to a south or west facing window is best, as long as you keep them about a foot away from the glass to protect them from sunburns.
Succulents are used to dry conditions, so they prefer to be watered infrequently. The best way to test if they need a drink is by poking a finger into the soil - once their soil is dry up to your first knuckle, they’re ready for some water.
While they don’t need to be watered very often, it’s best to soak them until the water flows out the bottom of their pot. Flushing the soil with lukewarm water can rinse out any salts that accumulate in the soil, keeping your succulent’s roots clean and healthy. Your aloe is very used to toughing it out in harsh conditions, so don’t fret – it won’t even need any fertilizer!
Drainage is important for your aloe vera, just like any succulent. Check that your container has lots of drainage holes at the bottom, and that the soil lets water flow easily. If your little succulent doesn’t have these things, don’t panic! You can easily add some cactus sand and better drainage holes when it’s outgrown its home and it’s time to repot.
Your plant will let you know if it’s getting enough to drink! If your plant’s leaves are getting thin and curling, it might be dehydrated. The more common problem is watering too often – your plant’s leaves may go limp if it has too much water. Keeping an eye out for these warning signs can help you find the watering level that keeps your succulent happy, and looking its best.
Dividing Your Aloe
As your Aloe grows up, it will become a little big for its pot and it may even start sprouting pups! You can transplant these pups to be their own plants (we love sharing our aloe to make new friends) and to give your main plant some more room to grow. In early spring, simply separate with a sharp knife, keeping as many roots as you can. Your new pup can make itself at home in a new pot with cactus soil - just try to resist watering for about 2 weeks until the roots have made themselves comfortable.
We aren’t surprised how succulents have taken the spotlight - we’re enchanted with each variety of color and shape, and they have a cool aesthetic that sets them apart from other houseplants. While we maybe shouldn’t be picking favorites, Aloe Vera has so many benefits we love on top of its succulent charm that it’s probably at the top of our list… just don’t tell our other plants we said that!