Intro: Aloe is a popular succulent plant that produces yellow-orange flowering shoots. It is hardy and does well in plant containers in balcony gardens. Aloe vera plants are usually sold very small, but it is surprising how large they can get – up to 2 feet tall and 2.5 feet wide. There are many varieties of aloe vera that thrive in containers – some completely green and others having white speckles. When planting aloe vera in your balcony garden, remember that it doesn't like its leaves touching the potting soil. If the leaves touch soil, the leaves will turn dark green and begin to rot.
Scientific Name: Aloe barbadensis
Plant Type: Herb, indoor plant, succulent
Light: For the best growth, provide your aloe vera plant with shade to full sun.
Water: When watering your aloe vera plant, put your finger down into the potting soil about 2 to 3 inches. If the potting soil is dry, then water your plant. The best soil to use for the aloe vera plant is well-draining. It is best to use a cactus or succulent mix, which you can find at your local garden shop. Be aware that yellowing or rotting leaves, or a dying aloe vera can be the result of overwatering.
Temperature: Overwinter your aloe vera plants if nighttime temperatures in your area dip below 25 degrees, especially for a prolonged period of time. You can keep aloe vera plants outdoors all year long if you live in Hardiness Zones 9 to 11.
Pests and Diseases: Aloe vera is susceptible to a few common garden pests, including scale, mealy bugs, slugs and snails, and fungus gnats. Aloe vera diseases include rust and rot. Keep diseases at bay by not overwatering aloe vera. Also do not allow its fleshy leaves to touch the potting soil, as the moist dirt will result in rotting leaves, which may kill your plant.
Propagation: Once the aloe vera has produced an offshoot from its base, and the shoot has begun unfold, it is ready for propagation. Cut the offshoot out of the mother plant, making sure to get some of the roots attached to the shoot. After transplanting it, water thoroughly and place in shade for 2 to 3 weeks. Do not water again during this time. After the 2 to 3 week period, it can be placed in full sun in your balcony garden and watered normally. Because this and propagation through seeds can be difficult, most balcony gardeners find it easiest to propagate this plant by removing its offsets and planting them in their own containers. Read "How to Propagate Aloe Vera."
Misc. Info: Aloe vera is a medicinal container plant that is used in many skin treatments and lotions. It has been used since Ancient Egyptian times for health purposes. Cut a small piece off a tip, and use your aloe's jellylike insides to soothe sunburns.