This is a time of year when I like to be proactive with my houseplants, for a number of reasons. First, I really miss the garden at this point but it's too early to start seeds. Second, the holidays are over and thus the houseplants have returned from their annual Christmas-tree-induced exile. Lastly, the days are finally getting longer, even if only by a little. I don't like to do anything like re-potting or fertilizing the houseplants before the winter solstice (or immediately thereafter) because pushing growth in the dead of winter seems antithetical to plants' nature. Even tropicals slow down in the winter--why fight it?
But now it is beginning to stay light past 4 pm, and as usual my neglect followed by guilty overwatering has led to disaster. Ready? Check out this horror show:
This is unacceptable! I have had this aloe for years, and it's grown into a clutch of many aloes, which are clearly languishing.
Want to see the really scary part? Look at these roots...
...you can actually see the root rot taking place!
Not only am I emotionally attached to this plant, I also use it medicinally when I burn myself (all too common since I'm kind of a clutz in the kitchen), and I mix the juice with sweet almond oil to make hand moisturizer when my skin is cracking horribly in the dry winter air. So action had to be taken!
As I've admitted, I have a habit of overwatering. Compounding this was the fact that these aloes were in regular potting soil, or, at least I think that was aggravating the problem. So I finally invested in some cacti/succulent potting soil and I broke apart the tangled mess of rotting roots. After gently cleaning them, I evaluated which ones had semi-decent roots left and then re-potted those that I felt had the best shot of survival. Here they are following surgery:
I made a point of not completely drenching the soil when I potted them. I tried to anchor them deep enough to keep them from lolling sideways again.
As for those that I felt were too far gone, I cut open the leaves and extracted as much juice as possible. I'm not sure how long it will keep, but I'm trying to assure that those poor aloes haven't died in vain.
Keep your fingers crossed for healthy aloes in the New Year! What can you tell me about caring for succulents? How can I stop overwatering? What else should I know?