Growing Aloe Vera in Southern California

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Aloe Vera (Aloe vera Sync Aloe barbadensiszones 10–11) is only one of many species. Hello The genus is probably native to parts of North Africa where conditions are similar to many areas of southern California. Perhaps the most popular species due to its medicinal use for cuts and burns, aloe vera is also often used as a natural conditioner to soften skin and make hair shiny. But use it carefully; It contains aluin, which can cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to latex.

Aloe vera
Aloe vera. Photo: Sekh Sayantan, Burdwan Eco Garden, Bugwood.org

Aloe vera thrives in hot and dry conditions, but avoid aloe mites.

This spectacular performer has stunning geometric, sculptural leaves and long stalks of bright yellow flowers. And like many other aloes, it is easy to grow in our Southern California climate, a trait especially valuable in our changing and extreme climate. Aloe vera likes a little more shade than some other species, but still likes plenty of sun. It is a succulent, meaning it has adapted to hot, sunny and dry conditions by storing moisture in its leaves. Because the leaves act as moisture reservoirs, aloes can handle water restrictions, and, as long as they’re grown on a slope or in good drainage, they’ll withstand even the heavy soaking rains that come our way. .

Aloe mite infestation
Aloe mite infestation. Photo: Jane Gates

Although aloe vera is hardy, mostly pest-free, and easy to grow, there are parts of Southern California where it (and some other aloes) are infested with aloe mites. These microscopic parasites are airborne, so they can spread widely. Since there is no cure for this disfiguring disease, it is important to pull out any infected plants, bag them to prevent the spread of the germs, and burn or trash them. should be put in, eliminate any new outbreaks quickly when seen.

Aloe vera can be grown in the garden as well as indoors.

However, for the most part, aloe vera are beautiful garden plants that require very little care and are resilient enough to adapt to most landscapes even during those years of unpredictable weather. They will also grow indoors as long as they are kept in bright sunlight, but they are less likely to bloom indoors.

Plant them in groups for the best textural and color effects. Or place a pot in a decorative container. They will grow about 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide, so give them large pots and use well-draining soil. With their stunted growth habit, they are also great for covering slopes, covering walkways, or for single or ‘bouquet’ effects.

New plants are easy to grow from runners, divisions and cuttings.

You don’t need to buy a lot of plants to cover the area. Propagating aloe vera is very easy. You can usually let them spread themselves. By planting large outdoor areas with well-placed plants (which will send out escapees), bare spots will be filled with new colonies in just a few years. Clips are easily divided and transplanted to new areas.

Whole leaf cuttings can be taken with a sharp, clean knife. To take cuttings and cut the leaves, it is best to pull the collar of the stalk at the base with the leaf. Allow the exposed cutting to dry out for a few days, then place it in a mixture of soil and sand or perlite and do not water until new roots form.

New Root Aloe Vera
New Root Aloe Vera. Photo: Jane Gates

The succulent characteristic of storing moisture in the leaves makes aloe, unlike other garden plants, more likely to die from too much water than too little. In times of drought, aloes can survive in low rainfall with their stored moisture, but are more likely to rot when it is too wet, especially in cooler temperatures. The most vulnerable area is at the crown between the leaf growth and the roots. In addition to looking attractive, using gravel as a top mulch provides more air circulation to reduce crown moisture that can initiate rotting.

Aloe vera is one of the many aloe vera plants that grow.

There are many other elves that grace the gardens of Southern California. You can also choose easy-care varieties such as coral aloe (Aloe striatazones 9-11) and even add height with tree aloe (Aloe barberrysyn. Aloe Benici, zones 9–11). Both are easy to grow from cuttings.

Spikey aloe in a Southern California garden
The spiky aloe farms are amazing in the landscape. Photo: Jane Gates

Whether you’re looking for spectacular plants with sculptural forms and colorful flower spikes, plants that can handle Southern California’s harsh weather patterns, and/or plants useful for health care and natural grooming. Well, consider making room for at least a few elves. Vera plants—and a few others from this interesting genus. You can even be magical enough to create an entire magical aloe garden with a whole assortment of sizes, colors and textures.

-Jane Gates has over 35 years of professional design and gardening experience in Los Angeles and is the author of One Step for All Gardens: Choosing Best-Performing Plants for a Sustainable Garden

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