Aloe vera plants are often kept not only for their appearance but for their leaves, which can be used to help treat small burns. They’re an aesthetically pleasing and beneficial succulent to have around, especially since they also help remove formaldehyde from the air. But did you know they produce flowers and seeds, too? Aloe vera seed pods can be harvested from a mature plant and can be used to grow new aloe.
Aloe vera seed pods are the part of the spent flower from the plant that you can use to grow new ones. You’ll take the seeds from within the pods to plant and care for them as they sprout. Mature aloe plants need to be at least 4 years old before they begin to seed, but it varies per species and often depends on whether or not the plant is receiving the proper care. You’ll know your aloe plant is ready to produce seeds when it begins to flower.
It’s important to note that aloe vera seeds will appear only if the flowers have been pollinated. In warmer areas where you can grow outdoors, this is done quite easily and without much effort on your part. If your aloe is primarily grown indoors, you can always attempt to put it out on a deck, patio, or balcony during warmer weeks where it won’t be killed by the climate conditions to encourage pollination. Otherwise, you may be better off purchasing your aloe vera seed pods from another grower or growing a new aloe plant from a pup.
If you’ve ever had a sunburn or a minor burn from cooking, you know one of the first things people recommend is to put aloe on it. A lot of companies make aloe vera gel for this specific purpose; however, if you grow your own aloe at home, you can easily have some on hand without having to run to the store and spend money!
Aside from burns, aloe vera actually provides other benefits to your skin. According to the Baylor College of Medicine’s Kim Chang, aloe can also be used to help treat surface acne and dry skin, as well as help prevent future wrinkling. Be wary of using aloe in this way, though, as using too much can cause your skin to dry out.
Aloe vera seed pods can be harvested from the spent flowers of an aloe plant or purchased from other growers. You should wait until the pods are a brown-green color and ready to be harvested before trying to open them for the seeds. Once you split the pod to harvest the seeds, you’ll want to pay attention to the color of the seeds themselves. If they’re light-colored, they aren’t ready to harvest. If they’re brown to black in color, they’re ready to be planted!
When harvesting and collecting aloe seeds, it’s best to keep some kind of basin or dish under the pod as you split it. Because these seeds are small and flat, they could easily be lost on a floor, carpet, deck, etc. The dish will help collect the seeds for you, and you can throw away the empty pod when you’re done. If growing your new aloe indoors, you can plant them immediately; however, if you’re in a climate where they can be grown outside, you’ll want to wait until the next spring to plant them outdoors. Either way, you should plant your aloe seeds within a year after they were harvested.
You can always attempt to propagate your aloe in the event that there are no seed pods! As mentioned at the beginning, your aloe plant will naturally grow new pups (or baby plants) that are attached to the parent plant. All you have to do is wait until the pup is at least one-fifth the size of the parent plant and has several of its own leaves, though this can vary a bit depending on the type of aloe you have. If the pup isn’t mature enough when you separate, you’ll have a hard time successfully propagating it.
When your pup is ready, you can remove it from the parent plant with a set of sanitized scissors or shears (the sanitization is important to prevent any contamination to your new pup). You’ll want to cut the base of the pup as closely as possible to the parent plant without damaging it, then place the pup in a pot of dry cactus potting mix. After about a week, you can water it and care for it as you would any other aloe.
If you’re working with aloe vera seed pods, the process will be different. Aloe seeds sprout without much hassle as long as you provide them with the proper care. Seeds should be planted in well-draining soil but without too much excess medium that can get soggy. Although any container will work, you should make sure the one you use has good drainage and isn’t too large.
Once you’ve selected and filled your container, slightly dampen the soil then place the seeds roughly one inch apart from each other before covering with another light layer of your potting medium. In order to keep a higher humidity, you can mist the soil lightly once a day until you see seedlings, which can sometimes take up to four weeks. Whether growing indoors or outdoors, you can follow this process.
Once your new aloe plants have at least four leaves, you can repot them into their own pots with the same growing medium you used for the seeds. From there, follow the same care routine you would for your mature aloe plant, taking into account any variations caused by the plant being smaller, the pot being smaller, etc. Aloe vera seed pods are a great way to grow your own aloe plants, either to keep or give away as gifts to fellow plant lovers!
If you can’t find any viable aloe seeds from reputable sources and your existing aloe isn’t producing seed pods, you can always try your hand at propagation! Mature aloe plants will begin to grow pups that are attached to the parent plant. You may notice them growing up from the bottom, close enough to look like new leaves. As soon as the pup has four or five leaves (similar to the new plants grown from seed), you can safely remove them from the parent plant with sterilized sheers and plant them in their own pot.
In order to get these benefits from your aloe plant, you’ll want to pick an older leaf (giving the newer ones a chance to grow), cut it off the plant, and carefully slice it open. Apply the gel inside the leaf where you need it and store any leftover so it doesn’t go to waste. It would be best, however, to wait until you have a plant large enough that it can spare a cutting or two without going into shock. Your aloe vera may take a while to get up to size, but you can always use aloe products in the meantime!
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