The leader in the healing properties of aloe vera is still inferior in popularity to the simple, almost invulnerable tree aloe. Even its popular name “agave” testifies to the fact that the plant can withstand almost any kind of care and is very durable. But tree aloe is rarely found in the list of the most decorative species for a reason. To keep it in shape and not grow huge thorny giants, you need to know some secrets. Basically, it all comes down to a certain formation of the plant.
How to keep aloe tree in shape?
Aloe tree – not the most decorative of the genus
The tree-like aloe is hard not to recognize. It got its name from the straight, strong, woody shoots, on which opposite narrow fleshy leaves are located. Their xiphoid shape is somewhat masked by an arcuate bend, fleshiness, cartilaginous teeth with spines. Leaves do not die off until 4 years old.
Blooming aloe tree at the end of winter in a room is a rarity. Reddish drooping flowers in racemes at the top of the shoots bloom only under ideal conditions and at a considerable age. But just the ideal conditions – what aloe tree-like in the room, as a rule, is unattainable.
Read also our material How to make an aloe bloom?
Most often, aloe tree is grown without any control until it becomes a disheveled, neglected, strange giant. Then, multiplying it, it is replaced with a young plant.
Without restraint, the stems easily rise to a height of more than a meter, do not branch, creating the appearance of a neglected, unattractive savage. It is very easy to prevent loss of compactness. This does not even require effort, but only a desire to make the care even more minimal, on the verge of negligence. In this case, it is necessary to take measures to form.
Aloe tree basic requirements
The requirements for the conditions of the aloe tree, which can survive almost any stress, are more than modest. Manipulating with care, you should still adhere to the minimum requirements for the plant:
- Any temperature is suitable for aloe, so long as the indicators do not fall below 0. They grow well both in cool and in heat. If you provide the aloe tree with a cold wintering – from 5 to 10 degrees Celsius – the plant will completely stop growth and in winter it will not lose shape so rapidly. But even without formation, this measure will prolong the period of preservation of the plant’s compactness.
- Aloe is light-requiring. It needs to be kept only within scattered sunny and sunny places, because even in partial shade, the stems stretch out faster and release lateral shoots worse.
- Aloe tree must be rotated in relation to the light source. It develops unevenly and inaccurately, only if you do not take into account its light dependence. It is worth turning the pots every 2 weeks, clockwise, shifting 60 degrees.
- Heavy pots are needed even by compact tree aloe. After all, the plant, due to the fleshiness of the leaves and the thickness of the shoots, weighs a lot, and the capacity must balance the ground parts. It is best to plant aloe tree in ceramic pots.
- Aloe tree usually does not get sick, but it is imperative to monitor the cleanliness of the plant, regularly wiping the leaves from dust.
Aloe’s patience is worth testing more often
It is no coincidence that aloe was considered a symbol of patience in ancient Arab countries. The enviable vitality, unpretentiousness and ability to withstand drought in the aloe tree are truly legendary. And it is precisely these qualities of it, if you do not want the aloe to grow rapidly and always remain under control, it is better to experience it.
Of course, there is no question of not caring for the plant at all or keeping it in extreme conditions. But some grooming tricks will reduce growth rates and form plants more easily.
Start by choosing a container: to contain the aboveground part, you need to choose a pot that is proportionate to the size of the roots, giving them little room to grow. The maximum diameter of the adult aloe pots is 18 cm.
In no case should the soil for aloe tree be nutritious and “ordinary”: the poorer the soil, the slower the aloe will develop. Even a substrate for succulents and cacti is not the best option.
To further reduce the fertility of an already fairly moderate soil, add inert additives to the soil – from brick chips, expanded clay to perlite and vermiculite. And be sure to add a serving of charcoal. The drainage level for the aloe tree should be at least 6 cm.
Watering aloe tree should be minimal. Even in summer, when the plant is actively growing, watering should remain moderate. But constant stress and prolonged droughts in summer can both stifle growth and lead to the loss of attractiveness of outlets.
Therefore, it is better to use a different strategy – let the soil dry out almost completely or completely, but not more than for a few days, and irrigate with a small amount of water. In winter, watering is carried out very rarely – once a month – or they refuse it altogether.
In the first year after planting or transplanting aloe tree, it is better not to feed at all. In the future, they are limited to minimal procedures. It is enough to spend 2 or 3 fertilizing in the summer with fertilizers for succulents and cacti.
It is not worth replanting aloe every year. They carry out a change of soil only when there is no other way out and the roots appear in large numbers from the drainage holes.
Formation is the key to decorative aloe
If you do not take additional measures for regular pruning and containment, aloe tree-like, even with the recommended care measures for 3 years, will grow up to 1,5 m, not pleasing with the appearance of long, leafy underneath, gradually losing its attractive shoots. And then there will be only one way out – rejuvenation or replacement.
Fortunately, pruning with aloe is a kind of harvest of medicinal leaves:
If you remove the most healing lower leaves, you can make room for the development of lateral shoots from the axils, which, instead of boring “sticks”, will form interesting bushes.
Aloe tree-like with a bared lower part of the shoot looks like a kind of succulent “palm”, and the development of new branches slows down the growth of the main ones. It is worth starting to remove the lower leaves and form the trunk as soon as the main shoot rises to a height close to optimal – from 15 to 30 cm.
You can do more radically with the side outlets – they should be “cleaned” already at the level of 5-10 cm. Of course, the side shoots harm the healing properties. But not enough to sacrifice the decorativeness of the plant and remove them immediately, as some reference books advise.
Read also our article Aloe – medicinal types and effective recipes for use.
If the central or large lateral shoot begins to seem too massive, it can be safely cut to the first branch or removed completely, allowing the rest of the branches to develop more freely.
In the form of a “group of palms”, aloe arborescens can remain attractive for more than 10 years.
If the old aloe has lost its shape
The neglected, too overgrown, disheveled aloe, which were not helped in time to maintain compactness, should not be given a second chance: plants that have already lost their shape are really easier to replace. Aloe tree is one of the easiest succulent plants to grow.
The main breeding method and the simplest option for restoring a bush damaged from a decorative point of view is cuttings. At the plant, the tops of lateral straight or central shoots are cut, not too old, with a branch diameter of about 1 cm.
The choice of thin young twigs is not the best solution, because in a tree-like aloe, in an amazing way, the power of the original shoot is directly proportional to the strength, beauty and rate of tillering of the new plant.
You need to cut the cuttings according to the general rules – with a sharp, clean blade, in one motion, peeling 5-6 cm of the lower part of the stem from the leaves and drying the cuttings from 1 to 2 weeks. The rest of the leaves should not be injured.
The dried cuttings are planted immediately in individual containers: the pots are filled with soil, spilled slightly, and the entire bare part of the stem is immersed in a small hole, covering the cuttings with sand.
The lower leaves are used as a guide and support, reliably setting the plants on them. But if the cuttings are asymmetrical, you can also install small props.
It is better to root aloe cuttings under a hood, with regular ventilation. Aloe is rooted with enough heat and ambient light. As soon as young leaves begin to grow, the plants are transferred to a permanent place.