Aloe Plant Help

Overview

Although there are a number of plants in the genus Aloe, the most commonly cultivated variety is the Aloe vera. Aloe vera has been used for centuries as a treatment for burns, skin irritations, cuts and even constipation. Aloe is a perennial succulent that grows in tropical and sub-tropical areas. They can reach 4 feet tall and have leaves that can grow up to 36 inches in a year under ideal conditions.

Cold Weather

As a tropical and sub-tropical plant, Aloe is extremely sensitive to temperatures below freezing. As a succulent, Aloe plants are 99 percent water. If exposed to temperatures below freezing, the water in the thick leaves will freeze, killing the plant. Although Aloe can grow outdoors during warmer seasons, be sure to bring the Aloe inside if temperatures below 40 degrees are forecast. Although Aloe can survive colder temperatures, a sudden drop below 32 can severely damage or kill the plant.

Care

Aloe plants can be susceptible to physical damage. In places where they can grow outdoors, or if you keep potted Aloe outdoors in the summer, hail can bruise and break Aloe leaves. Aloe leaves can become very heavy. Avoid putting excessive pressure at the base of a leaf, or it might snap off.

Weevils

Healthy Aloe vera can withstand insect attacks. However, if your plant is stressed, a number of weevils can affect Aloe and similar plants. Plants generally become stressed when planted in soil that doesn't drain well or in cases where a plant is watered either too much or too little. Controlling weevils is difficult. In some cases, a broad spectrum insecticide can help, as can remedying the problem that initially stressed the plant.

Mites

If Aloe plants are stressed, mites can become a problem. Mites are closely related to spiders and are visible only with a magnifying glass or a microscope. However, if your Aloe has a mite infestation, you will see abnormal growths or galling. Mites are best controlled by increasing the humidity around the plant, frequent misting and periodic washing of the leaves.

Use

When using an Aloe plant to treat burns or skin irritations, removing a small section from a longer leaf lower on the plant can help keep the plant looking good. By trimming from the same leaf, you can turn that leaf toward the back. Don't cut more than you need. It can be tempting with a burn to remove a large leaf. A small section, however, can provide enough juice for several applications.

Keywords: aloe care, aloe management, aloe vera plant

About this Author

Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.