Aloe is a succulent that grows in hot, dry climates and is propagated in subtropical regions all over the world like New Mexico, California, the southern border areas of Texas, and Arizona. It is commonly called Aloe and there are about 420 various species of Aloe such as Aloe vera, Aloe Africana, Aloe arborescent and Aloe barbadensis, etc. It has many medicinal and cosmetic properties and due to these properties, it is not only consumed but also applied on the skin for beauty treatments. This may lead to the frequent cutting of aloe Vera plants. When you cut Aloe Vera leaf, it is quite possible that you may damage it. To cut it in the right way, we will find out how to cut Aloe Vera plant without killing it.
Aloe Vera has long, sharp, and green leaves with spiny edges that are not harmful. While cutting Aloe Vera plant, always remove the whole leaf instead of cutting a part of the leaf. Cut the leaf near the main stem and first choose the leaf from the lower part of the plant as the leaves near the base of the plant are old and thick. Taking out the entire leaf will keep your aloe good in appearance. Before getting into the details about how to cut Aloe Vera plant without killing it, let’s know what is Aloe Vera.
What is Aloe Vera?
Aloe Vera is a thick, short- stemmed succulent that stores water in its fleshy, pointed, green leaves which can grow to about 12–19 inches (30–50 centimeters) in length.
The plant is a member of the Asphodelaceae (Liliaceae) family that flourishes in the dry areas of Asia, Africa, America and Europe.
Its long history can be traced back to Egypt and it is a native plant of Southern Europe, North Africa and the Canary Islands.
Aloe vera plant is used as an unconventional medicine and is used in cosmetics as well. Aloe Vera has a variety of therapeutic properties, particularly as an ointment for the skin and gums.
The name aloe vera is taken from the Arabic word “Alloeh”, which means a shining bitter substance, and vera is obtained from the Latin word vera that means true. Aloe Vera has been commonly used in Egypt, Mexico, India, China, Japan, and Greece for ages.
Components of Aloe Vera
Aloe vera has many vitamins, minerals, and other elements that are good for health. Each Aloe Vera leaf is made up of three layers:
1. an inner clear gel that contains 99% water and the rest 1% part contains amino acids, lipids, sterols and vitamins, etc.
2. the middle layer of latex, a bitter yellow sap that has anthraquinones and glycosides.
3. the outer thick layer of 15 to 20 cells called rind which protects the inner two layers and also synthesizes proteins and carbohydrates.
At least 160 important ingredients have been found in aloe vera leaves and some experts claim that the leaf has 300 to 400 vital components.
Aloe Vera contains vitamins A, C, and E, important antioxidants that neutralize free radicals. An immunity booster, vitamin C is necessary for the growth of the teeth, bones and blood. Vitamin C also shields the body cells from premature aging. Vitamin E stimulates the healing process.
Vitamins B1, B2, B6, and B12 are also found in Aloe Vera that improve the detoxifying process of the body. Vitamin B12 is important for nucleic acid synthesis.
Monosaccharide and Polysaccharides
It contains monosaccharides and polysaccharides like aldopentose, arabinose, cellulose, galactose, galacturonic acid, glucose, xylose and mannose etc. that has antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antimycotic, and immune-instigating effects.
How to cut Aloe Vera Plant Without Killing it?
If you grow Aloe Vera to use daily like for extracting the juice from Aloe leaves to make a smoothie or to use the gel for daily skin cleansing, you’ll need to cut Aloe Vera plant regularly.
The more frequently you cut an Aloe plant, the higher are the chances of killing it.
While removing an entire leaf or apart, it is also important to find how to cut the Aloe Vera plant without killing it :
Aloe Vera plants are fast-growing succulents and to keep them in good shape, they need pruning, but not on a regular basis.
Harvest the biggest and healthiest leaf which is the most mature one and let the smaller ones flourish.
Take leaves from the bottom of the plant and cut them closer to the main stem.
Never Use a Blunt Blade
Always use a clean, sharp, and saw-toothed blade to cut your aloe plant. Clean the blade with alcohol to reduce the chances of diseases and fungal infections. Never use a blunt knife as it can damage stems and leaves badly.
Prune it only when Required
Don’t prune the plant frequently. Cut only when necessary, as snipping removes many essential nutrients that the plant needs to remain healthy and nourished.
Aloe vera plants usually heal 2-3 days after cutting.
Trim dry, discolored, dead, or brown leaves and carefully cut them without harming the healthy ones.
Remove extra leaves
Get rid of the extra outer leaves to fit the plant well in the container by cutting them closer to the base of the stem, snipping them cleanly. Removed leaves contain a gel that can be applied over the skin for beauty purposes or on burns and rashes.
Usually, Aloe Vera discards lower leaves on their own with time. Thus, cutting the leaves from bottom to top is the right way to cut the aloe vera plant.
What are the Medicinal Benefits of Aloe Vera?
Aloe vera contains nanoparticles or bioactive compounds alleged to be effective in the treatment of ailments like allergic reactions, rheumatoid arthritis, burns, rheumatic fever, indigestion, ulcers, diabetes, skin diseases, dysentery, diarrhea, inflammation of digestive system and piles, etc. Because of various medicinal properties, Aloe Vera is used in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and food industries.
It contains useful healthy compounds
Each leaf contains water-filled tissue called gel that stores water making the leaf thick.
The gel contains most of the useful bioactive compounds such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and amino acids.
It has antioxidant and antibiotic properties
Antioxidants are good for health and Aloe vera gel contains powerful antioxidants associated with a large family of substances called polyphenols.
These polyphenols along with other compounds in aloe vera hinder the growth of some infection-causing bacteria in humans.
Aloe vera is acknowledged for its antibacterial, antiseptic, and antiviral properties, Thus, healing wounds and curing skin problems.
It stimulates wound healing
People not only consume aloe vera for various treatments but also rub it on the skin as it heals wounds, sores, and burns, including sunburn. It is effective in treating first and second-degree burns and is known to reduce the healing time of burns. It also prevents redness, itching, and infections related to the skin.
It lowers the buildup of dental plaque
Tooth decay and diseases of the gum are very common, but these conditions can be prevented by reducing the buildup of plaque, or microbial growth on the teeth.
Researches have proved that Aloe Vera juice, when used as a mouthwash, is also equally effective as chlorhexidine, a mouthwash ingredient in reducing dental plaque.
Aloe vera kills the plaque-producing bacterium Streptococcus mutans in the mouth, along with the yeast Candida albicans.
It treats blisters
Mouth ulcers, or canker sores or blisters as you call them are usually formed below the lip, inside the mouth and can remain for about a week.
Various studies have proved that aloe vera fastens the healing of mouth ulcers and reduces the pain caused by them.
It relieves constipation
Aloe vera may also treat constipation due to the presence of latex, which is a sticky yellow residue found under the skin of the leaf.
The compound responsible for this effect is called aloin, or barbaloin, which has laxative effects. However, it should not be used frequently.
Aloe Vera is not effective against other digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease.
It improves and slows down the aging of the skin
Aloe Vera gel can slow the aging of the skin. Studies have shown that over the age of 45, consuming aloe vera gel accelerates collagen production and enhances skin elasticity.
It is also proved that aloe vera can help the skin in retaining moisture and improves skin, especially dry skin conditions.
It reduces blood sugar
Aloe Vera is also used as a remedy for diabetes because it lowers blood sugar by increasing insulin sensitivity, and in people with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes due to its glycemic control.
However, Aloe Vera is not recommended by scientists for this purpose.
Consuming aloe vera may cause stomach cramps or diarrhea due to its laxative effects. Some reports suggest liver damage related to long-term use of aloe vera.
Non-Decolorized whole leaf extract of aloe vera appears to be linked with cancer risk in rats.
It is always better to consult a doctor before using it to cure any disease.
How to consume Aloe Vera?
- It is easy to take bottled aloe vera gel that is easily available in the market or it can be extracted directly from the leaf of an aloe plant. Aloe vera juice has different uses than aloe vera gel.
- Decolorized whole leaf extract should be taken for oral consumption of aloe vera to lower risk.
- It is better to consult a doctor before using aloe products for treating a condition.
How to Plant Aloe vera?
Aloe vera plant is easy to grow, just make sure that you know the right amount of water and sun that this plant flourishes in. Unlike the other succulents, the aloe plant cannot be grown from a leaf cutting and is propagated by separating the smaller plant from the base of the bigger plant or from the common root system. These smaller plants should be treated carefully.
Planting or Transplanting Aloe Vera
Aloe plants have short roots and heavy leaves, so they are replanted into a heavier pot when they grow and tip over. If Aloe vera roots don’t find space to grow, the plant may start to produce “pups” that can be shifted to the other pot. If you want to grow the adult plant rather than producing new plants, transplant it into a larger pot to allow the roots to grow well.
Spring and summer are the best seasons to remove the pups, but you can remove them at any time of year.
If You want to grow pups, let them grow first, at least 4-6″ tall. This is because the roots are better formed and grown aloe pups can be separated easily from the parent plant.
Aloe Vera wounds need to dry and callus before you pot it. Keep the parent plant and all the pups in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Leave them as such for 1-6 days before replanting them.
Repot the parent plant and aloe vera pups after 24 hours. As the end of the pup is dry, take a container slightly larger than the pup. Fill it with a sandy potting mix and take out the soil by making a depression in the top to place the pup’s roots. Do not water until the roots start growing, normally two weeks from planting.
8–10 hours of sunlight is best for the Aloe plant. They grow best in warm or hot temperatures but can survive cooler seasons in a dormant state. They will be harmed in temperatures lesser than 25ºF (-4ºC).
Although the plant adapts to live in hot conditions, it is still possible to burn the plant. If the leaves turn brown, move it to a place with light shade.
- Plant the Aloe vera in well-draining soil. Although Aloe Vera plants are adapted to survive in dry conditions, they can rot if the soil collects standing water. It is good to use cactus potting mix or make your own mix with equal parts of soil, sand, and gravel.
- Plant Aloe Vera in a container having a hole or more at the base for water drainage.
- Cover the root ball with soil but do not let the leaves touch the soil or get buried as they may rot. Aloe vera root ball should be just below the soil surface. The surface of the soil can be covered with gravel or pebbles (optional).
- A layer of small rocks can be placed around the base of the aloe plant to keep it in place and decrease evaporation. Avoid watering for the first few days after planting and give the aloe plant a few days to repair any damaged roots that may occur during planting. Chances of root rot increase on watering the damaged roots. Water it lightly for the first one or two times to be extra safe.
- Water when the soil is dry during the growing season. During summers or whenever the weather is sunny and warm, aloe plants grow fast if watered regularly. However, do not overwater and let the soil dry to a depth of 3 inches (7.5 cm).
- Water even lesser during the cold season only once or twice a month. Aloe plants become dormant during winters.
- Fertilize once a year or never as Aloe plants don’t need fertilizer and overuse can harm or make it grow in an unhealthy manner. To encourage growth, use a low nitrogen, high phosphorous, low potassium fertilizer in a ratio of 10:40:10 or 15:30:15. Use it once a year in late spring as the growing season starts.
- Clear the soil around the aloe plant by removing grass and weeds regularly and carefully. Increase sunlight if the leaves are flat and low to the ground. Generally, Aloe vera leaves grow upward or outward, toward the sunlight. If the leaves turn brown, decrease sunlight exposure as it is still possible to burn the leaves.
- Give sufficient water, if the leaves are thin and curled. If the leaves turn yellow or fall, stop watering for one or two weeks. Remove any discolored leaves from the plant by using a disinfected knife.
How Aloe Vera Is Different From Cactus?
Aloe & Cactus plants are both Succulents but then how aloe vera is different from cactus?
Cactus & Aloe both have similar features like thick, fleshy, stems and/or leaves and grow in relatively dry environments.
Due to the presence of prickles or thorns, aloe vera looks a lot like cactus plants but Aloe Vera is different from the cactus plants as:
- Cactus plants generally have few or no leaves whereas aloe plants are made of thick, fleshy leaves.
- Cacti have rounded indentations along their stems which are modified buds called areoles. Areoles are the identifying features of cacti and spines grow from the areoles for which cacti are well known. These are different from the thorny edges of the leaves of aloe vera plants.
I hope this article may have given you a lot of knowledge about Aloe Vera, and its medicinal properties. And, more importantly how you can cut Aloe Vera without killing it.