Aloe Vera is among the least understood plants among casual gardeners, with things like its function and how it can be safely harvested being a mystery.
How do you harvest Aloe Vera without harming it? This type of succulent grows fast but it needs to be harvested with an extremely sharp blade in order to cause the least amount of damage. You must also never cut more than you need and to only cut a few leaves out of the bunch from the outside. The cut must also be done lengthwise for better recovery.
There are a ton of amazing applications to Aloe Vera that makes it worth harvesting, but there are just as many issues that come with doing so if you don’t know what you are doing.
Why Grow Aloe Vera?
There are a ton of reasons for growing aloe vera and it is not just because of the aloe water that has been growing in popularity of late. You can use this wonderful succulent in many beneficial ways, both in practical and cosmetic terms.
On that note, it should be understood that aloe vera is a plant that comes with certain qualities that you will need to keep in mind. These include the fact that it is:
· Mostly compose of water
· Heals rapidly
· Can propagate easily
· Needs pruning for growth
· Has a soft, squishy gel flesh
· Needs a lot of sunlight
By keeping these in mind, you should be able to grow aloe vera with a fairly consistent result. As for why you would even want to do so, below are the reasons why you growing this wonderful succulent is a wonderful idea:
|Haircare||One of the most common uses for aloe vera is haircare, where portions of the leaves are cut and applied directly to the strands to make them silky and smooth|
|Burn treatment||Aloe vera helps provide burned skin with a soothing, cool sensation, protects the exposed layer from infection, and combats bacteria|
|Skincare||Washing your face with aloe vera is an excellent addition to your skincare regimen and you can even bathe with it if you had enough of the stuff|
|Hygiene||Using aloe vera can help strengthen your teeth and gums by combatting bacteria and adding a protective layer|
|Bite salve||Bug bites can be treated with aloe vera, which is often considered the more organic option for better results with fewer side effects|
|Combats aging||Constant consumption and application of aloe vera helps in combating aging through its moisturizing effects, its promotion of healthy cells, and even makes scars less visible|
|Promotes healing||Wounds, cuts, scrapes, or bruises can heal much faster when aloe vera is used as the salve or as part of the treatment protocol|
|Aids with digestion||Drinking or eating aloe vera makes the stomach stronger and helps it digest foods that could cause issues like indigestion|
|Soothes IBS and other digestive issues||Anyone experience IBS, acid reflux, heartburn, GERD, or all of the above will benefit from the consumption of aloe vera|
Those are just some of the most well-known and accepted benefits of aloe vera. There are more, but those are too unproven or ridiculous to even consider, so we will stick with these. With that being the case, you should not really need more reasons than those already given for growing aloe vera since the ones listed there are objectively quite useful already.
Hair Care – One of the most prevalent uses for aloe vera all over the world, this succulent has been used by both men and women in various cultures for improving how their strands look. A lot of this is due to the fact that aloe vera contains properties that stimulate cell growth, which is good for the scalp. Most shampoos can actually dry out the skin, which is bad for the hair.
On that note, the pH levels of aloe vera are also perfect for the scalp, which means that it can be cleaned without removing the essential oils that cover it. As for the actual hair strands, the gel basically coats the hair that then seals the cuticles. This keeps the hair looking silky, glossy, and healthy while also making it clean.
As for those who are suffering from conditions like dandruff or eczema, aloe vera is also a perfect solution. You won’t need to worry about artificial chemicals wreaking havoc all across your scalp and those powdery substances will no longer bother you. The same goes for the itching, pain, and discomfort that comes with such issues.
Burn Treatment – Perhaps taking second place as the most widely accepted use for aloe vera, treating burns is definitely one of the best reasons for keeping this succulent around. It cannot be overstated just how effective it is in actually relieving not only fresh burns but also ones that are beginning to heal. This is done in several ways.
First is the relief that it provides with regard to the pain that you feel when you are burned. The cooling sensation that the aloe vera gel imparts reduces the discomfort you feel so that it does not hurt as much. After that is the protection that it offers against further contamination and infection from the air, as well as the surroundings.
This is important, especially if you want the burn to heal cleanly. This layer of protection will also cleanse the wound itself of infections due to the anti-bacterial properties of the plant. Applying it will make sure to reduce inflammation and will speed up the healing process.
Speaking of which, aloe vera gel is also useful for stimulating the regenerative properties of the body’s cells. This then means that you have covered pretty much every area of the healing process when it comes to treating burns.
Skin Care – Speaking of stimulating the regeneration of cells, this is another use for aloe vera that many have already figured out before but might not have thought about that much. Using this plant for skincare is actually an incredibly powerful move for maintaining the health and vitality of your appearance. This is why it is often used for regimens that are meant for such purposes.
You can basically use aloe vera directly by taking the gel and mushing it before laying it on a piece of cloth. You then take that piece of cloth and place it on your face. This is just one option, though. You can also just take the aloe vera leaf, expose a bit of the gel and then rub it all over your face. You leave it there for a while and then wash it off.
This can be one of the greatest secrets to maintaining the youthful appearance of the skin, which will be discussed in more detail in a bit. However, it should also be noted that aloe vera has been known to combat acne, oily skin, and even heals acne scars. This all then leads to you developing a truly smooth and silky skin.
Of course, there is a limit to what aloe vera is able to do for you. If the damage is extensive, there is only so much healing that the plant can impart. At most, it can help your skin regenerate to its optimum performance, but it can’t perform a miracle. For example, it can’t help with damaged nerves or burns that have long since healed. You’ll need more serious operations for those.
Hygiene – With aloe vera possessing some unique properties that fight bacteria, it only makes sense that you would find it useful for maintaining good hygiene. It is particularly effective at helping you make sure that your teeth, mouth, gums, and throat are all in good condition. You do this by either eating or drinking, or by gurgling the gel.
Aloe vera can even be effective in helping you treat some of the more common issues related to mouth hygiene. For example, if you are experiencing gingivitis, you can just eat more of the aloe vera gel in order to treat the issue. You can do the same with cavities, mouth sores, and the many other oral problems that you might be experiencing.
Even for something as superficial as bad breath, aloe vera has been known to be an effective salve. It doesn’t have a strong smell, so you won’t have to worry about its scent lingering in your mouth. At the same time, it can help eliminate the odor that might be wafting out of your orifice because of something you ate or due to something more serious. It’s just something for you to consider.
Bite Salve – Insect bites can be quite irritating but depending on what did it and where you might end up with either a permanent scar or a deadly injury. This is why you need to treat such bites quickly and effectively, and this is exactly what aloe vera can do for you.
Simply put, aloe vera’s properties that make it great for burns, cuts, and other wounds also make it perfect for dealing with bites. However, on top of the antiseptic qualities in conjunction with the promotion of healing, aloe vera can also combat the chemical reactions that take place in bites. It can numb the pain, reduce inflammation, and fight against infections.
You have to remember that one of the things that make bites from insects like mosquitoes so dangerous is the fact that they carry deadly pathogens. Aloe vera can help reduce the chances of you contracting a disease when you apply it, but only if you act right away. It won’t be able to help you much if the pathogens have already made their way into your bloodstream.
Some insect bites also result in a severe blister that looks like it is just festering with pus and coagulated blood, which is likely something you would like to avoid. Aloe vera can certainly help in that regard, but as is the case with the pathogens, it will work best if you act right away. You won’t really get much out of this if you choose to dawdle and delay the application.
Combats Aging – It was already mentioned that aloe vera is a perfect solution for skincare treatments, but what about if your skin has already developed certain issues like wrinkles, stretch marks, and scars? Well, it can be wonderful for those too, but you will need to understand that it can’t really do much on its own.
From the outset, the biggest benefit of using aloe vera is in how it enables the body to perform more effectively. It pushes your cells, your digestion, and your regeneration to reach their maximum potential. If you need to achieve a result that is beyond that, then you will require the assistance of other solutions apart from what aloe vera is able to provide.
On that note, it can’t be denied that aloe vera is quite capable of helping you reduce signs of aging on your skin. It can help smooth out wrinkles through the moisturizing capabilities of the gel and how it stimulates cell regeneration. Healthier cells mean healthier skin, which then gives you fewer wrinkles. Unfortunately, aloe vera won’t be able to get rid of those entirely.
The same goes for stretch marks, which is also caused by the skin being too rigid and dry, on top of such issues like weight loss after a weight gain. As with the wrinkles issue, aloe vera can only reduce the visibility of stretch marks and you might need to rely on other products or salves for more definite results. Adding the plant to the combination does produce undeniable change, though.
Promotes Healing – Now, it’s worth pointing out that aloe vera is not a miracle cure that will get rid of things like cancer or some other nonsense claims tied to other plants. As already mentioned, the best it can do is to help stimulate the regenerative capabilities of cells, which then allow them to heal wounds and scars.
What it can do, however, is allow internal injuries to get better at a faster and more effective rate. If you suffered ruptures or tears in your muscles, internal organs, and the like, for example, you would do well to drink aloe water instead of just regular water. It won’t be a miracle tonic, but it does come with a ton of benefits.
The same goes for when you have issues like ulcers, a torn esophagus, or when you are recovering from major surgery. You are likely to receive prescriptions that are meant to help with the pain and fight bacteria. Aloe vera will basically act as support to help bolster the effects of those things and essentially help you get better more quickly.
Aids in Digestion – On the matter of digestion, age is not that kind to people who love to satisfy their palates with a wide range of dishes. At some point, you are going to come up against a wall brought about by your own body’s limits. One of these is the inability to digest or even tolerate certain foods and flavors as time goes by.
If you want to extend the amount of time that you can actually enjoy your favorite activity of eating, you are going to want to put in the time and effort to incorporate aloe vera into your diet. It will basically help promote digestive health, address hyperacidity, and even help with issues like GERD. Getting some relief from those issues should prove to be a good reason to try this out.
Then there are the irritable bowel syndromes, the constipation, the accumulation of gas, and a myriad of other digestive concerns that pop up over the years. Eating or drinking aloe vera will not be able to get rid of all of those, but it can help in making them less of an issue. With that said, you might actually do something about those as soon as possible.
Digestive Soothing – It was already mentioned that aloe vera can be quite essential in maintaining digestive health. However, even as you are eating other dishes, it would help to have this wonderful plant’s flesh making the whole thing a lot smoother. The presence of aloe vera is often enough to prevent indigestion as you are wolfing down tons of food.
Of course, there will be a limit and you can’t expect aloe water to help you if you drink an entire bottle of distilled spirits without eating anything. Once gastritis sets in, though, the symptoms will at least be more tolerable if you are consuming aloe vera. Just don’t expect it to be as good as the actual medication that you will be given.
How to Harvest Aloe Vera?
The first thing that you will need to do if you are going to harvest aloe vera is to make sure that you actually have big enough leaves that are also enough in number to get started. Aloe vera leaves can grow up to be three feet in length. Their numbers can also vary, but they do flair out from the center. Once you have the right batch to harvest, it’s time to focus on the tools.
You generally have two options when talking about harvesting aloe vera. One is a pruning shear and the other is a thin, sharp blade of some kind. Regardless of which you will use to harvest the aloe vera, they need to be as sharp as possible. This is very important if you want to be able to keep harvesting from the same batch over and over again.
While aloe vera can recover and heal, the speed at which it can do so will be hugely impacted by how cleanly it was cut. More than that, there is also the issue of how much damage was done to the skin, the flesh, and the exterior. Suffice it to say, the sharper your harvesting tool, the less unnecessary harm you will do to the aloe vera leaves.
Once you have the tool ready, you need to choose the thickest leaves from the outer row of the batch. You will then need to cut from the bottom patch, which will then allow it to grow later on. Make sure not to accidentally cut any of the leaves that you don’t intend to harvest, though.
Assuming you want to get the gel out of the leaves, you will want to prepare a cup where the leave will be standing upright, leaving space at the bottom by leaning the leaves on the side of the cup. This is meant to allow some of the resin from within the leaves to drain out. You don’t want that since it can be quite irritating.
Once a lot of the resin has dripped out, you can then take a sharp knife and slice the corners of the leaves’ undersides. Invert the leaves so that you can start from the bottom, running the blade along the length of the leaves until you reach its inverted point. You will then do the same thing on the other side. While doing this, make sure to control your force so that you don’t penetrate too far.
After you are done slicing, you can now peel the layer of the skin away to expose the gel. You can then use a spoon to harvest the gel and place it in a clean container for storage or direct use.
How Not to Harvest Aloe Vera?
On the matter of harvesting aloe vera, there are a few things that you should avoid doing. One is choosing batches that have yet to mature since you might affect their development later on. You should also not use dull, serrated, or rusty blades to cut the leaves of the aloe vera.
Finally, you should make sure that you cut your aloe vera from the bottom or else the growth of the plant will be affected. Cutting from the top should only be done for pruning purposes.
Can You Use Aloe Vera Straight from the Plant?
Yes, you can, though you are not advised to eat it immediately after harvesting. The aloe gel does need to undergo a bit of treatment before it can be put to good use so that it does not cause as much harm as it solves. You can only really treat your hair by doing this and nothing else.
Does Aloe Vera Gel Expire?
Aloe vera gel will most definitely expire, but not in the way you might expect. This substance basically becomes useless once it dries out and loses all of its moisture. As long as you can keep it nice and wet, it should be usable for up to two years after it was harvested, but this requires good storage methods.
Types of Aloe Vera You Can Grow
Believe it or not, there are actually a ton of types of aloe vera that you can grow. Which type you choose will change how you are meant to care for them and how you are supposed to harvest them. There are types of aloe vera that you can find in the wild but a lot of them are just not suitable for growing in places where there is limited space.
Among the most viable types of aloe vera that you can grow are:
· Spider Aloe
· Candelabra Aloe
· Stone Aloe
· Climbing Aloe
There are hundreds of other species that you can find all over the world that fall under this family. However, too many of them are just not worth trying to grow. It is also worth pointing out that many of the most common types of aloe vera can grow quite tall and would require a lot of support to fully mature.
Whatever the case may be, though, you need to remember that growing aloe vera is all about getting it to the point where you can pretty much leave it alone. The biggest challenge is really just from the start when you are just trying to get it to the point where it can survive on its own. When you get there, it’s just a matter of giving the aloe vera plenty of water.
Now, we are talking about plenty of water in the sense that the aloe vera should be watered regularly. If you give it too much moisture, it is likely to drown and we don’t want that. You should also avoid giving it too much fertilizer if you can help it since that would only result in the aloe vera dying due to the presence of too much chemicals.
Aloe Vera and Health
This was already brought up before but aloe vera has become increasingly popular as an ingredient for beverages and even among dishes due to its health benefits. As a succulent, it has long been associated with healing and wellness. However, ever since the idea that it can be consumed has spread far and wide, it has become even more sought after.
These days, aloe vera can be found in water, in juices, in cocktails, in the various shakes and smoothies that pervade the world, and it is even served in fancy restaurants. Among certain social circles, offering aloe water is a symbol of being chic and trendy, and health nuts go absolutely gaga over the consumption of this succulent.
While many of the claims that are being made about the health benefits of aloe vera are often exaggerated, its real impact on wellness cannot be understated either. You just need to temper your expectations a bit if you actually want to make the most of this wonderful plant.
As far as its cosmetic benefits go, though, those are pretty much solidly proven. Go ahead and get pretty with the plants that you grow and harvest through this wonderful succulent.
If we are really going to go overboard with just what you can do with this plant, though, there are those who have been known to actually use t for bathing. That’s right, you can add aloe gel to your bathwater so that you can soak in pretty much everything that it has to offer.
From there, you can also just apply the gel that you may have broken up so that it becomes easier to lather all over your body. You then leave it alone to dry so that you can wash it off with ease.