Growing indoor-outdoor plants: aloe and bromeliads

Warmth and sunlight are keys to growing container plants. Aloe and bromeliads are both well-growing indoor-outdoor container plants. Here is some key information on each one.

Growing indoor-outdoor plants: aloe and bromeliads

Aloe

Aloe gel makes a great household remedy for minor burns.

Warmth and sunlight

Warmth and sunlight are keys to growing aloe plants, so give them bright light indoors and partial shade when they're moved outdoors in summer.

Water the plants before they begin to shrivel or appear limp, but don't keep them too wet, or they will rot. Bring them indoors in fall before temperatures drop below 4°C.

Grow your own burn medicine

The gelatinous sap of Aloe vera barbadensis can soothe minor burns, skin rashes and sunburn.

  • Cut off a leaf of the plant at its fleshy base and split it open with a knife or razor blade.
  • Apply the sap to the irritation as quickly as possible and repeat often for the first few hours.

If you love to cook, keep an aloe plant on your kitchen windowsill to treat any minor mishaps.

Pot up the babies

Aloe plants seldom bloom when they are grown indoors through winter, but they often produce little offsets, called pups.

  • When the pups are five centimetres tall, cut them from the mother plant and pot them up in small containers. They make great gifts.

Bromeliads

Pineapples are part of the bromeliad family.

Water their hearts

Most bromeliads have a central cup, or reservoir, that holds water until they need it.

  • Every week or so, dump out any water left in the cup and refill it with a fresh supply.
  • Bromeliads also take up water through little scales on their leaves. Water air plants (Tillandsias spp.) by misting them with a fine spray of room-temperature water.

Grow a bromeliad branch

Arrange several small bromeliads together on a shapely branch or piece of driftwood.

Secure them with florists' wire atop a small pad of humus-rich potting soil, such as orchid potting mix.

  • Indoors, keep your bromeliad branch in a room with high humidity.
  • Outdoors, place it where drips won't be a problem; spray it often with your hose.

Nurture the next generation

After a bromeliad blooms, the parent plant slowly dies. Before it expires, it will produce one or more offsets, or pups.

  • Wait until the pups are one-third to one-half the parent's size, then cut them away and pot them up.
  • Enclose the planted pups in a plastic bag for a couple of weeks to maintain high humidity while they grow little roots.
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