I don’t know how many of you grow these, use them, or have even seen them. These amazing plants grow wild in tropical climates. They thrive on humidity, but they can also be grown indoors. I’ve always had some around all my adult life except the last decade I’ve lived in the desert. Now I wonder why I don’t have one growing indoors someplace as these have many beneficial uses. I’m thinking it’s probably because my curious cats would be helping themselves and my plants would be wrecked in no time.
I had them all over when I lived in
Texas years ago. The older plants will grow new ones at the
base that can easily be plucked out and potted to start a new plant. They grow rather quickly too. I even had a giant one inside when I lived in
Alaska. I was always using them for burns and things
like that. The liquid inside the spiny
leaves have a soothing, healing gel.
Nature has provided us with so many things we can use everyday, yet most of us never even think about that. I’m sure the Indians took advantage of all of nature’s gifts.
Caring for an aloe is easy. The thing you can do is over water, so be mindful that the soil dries out between watering. The plant doesn’t need fertilizer. It will grow upright and look perky, so if the leaves get droopy it probably needs more sun. On the other hand, if the leaves turn brown it’s getting too much sun. You may also need to rotate the plant to keep it in good shape as it will grow toward the sunlight. The plant doesn’t like frost or snow. If you live in those climates, it must be kept indoors if you want it to stay alive. If the leaves become thin or limp, you’re probably not watering enough because the plant is using its own gel to keep itself hydrated. However, usually over watering is more of an issue than under watering.
Close up of the spines on the outside of the leaves
When you harvest leaves to use, do so from the bottom and take them off as close to the plant as possible, being careful not to disturb the roots or any “babies” at the base. I have broken off the tip of a leaf to use for burns and the plant will heal itself at the end, but after awhile, if you keep doing this, your plant won’t look like a showpiece anymore. Be careful of the spikes on the leaves as they can puncture you and/or your clothing. Remember, the Aloe Vera is similar to a cactus, as it likes to dry out and it has spines, but is a succulent and is actually about 95 % water.
You’re interested in the gooey inside gel of the leaves for their medicinal properties. Avoid the dark green outer leaf of the aloe as it contains a harsh laxative.
Looking inside the gel inside of an Aloe Vera leaf.
Today we see aloe based products in all the health food stores. Not only is it good for skin irritations and burns, but it’s also digestible and can help with digestion and your immune system and is loaded with anti-oxidants. Aloe will keep in the fridge for a couple of days, but it’s best to pick and use when it’s fresh. Some people put it in smoothies because the gel is slightly bitter. If you’re buying this to eat make sure to do your homework as to all the ingredients in the product before you eat it.