The most common of the aloe plants is Aloe vera, or ‘true aloe’ and it is a popular ingredient in cosmetics and medicinal remedies. They are succulents and therefore practised in conserving water during dry conditions. Aloes come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, from tiny 2-inch plants to large colonies of up to 4-foot high plants.
Most Aloes have a rosette arrangement of leaves, often appearing to grow directly from the ground with no stem. The leaves are fleshy and green to blue silver in colour, filled with clear gel that can be applied to burns and skin irritations. Aloe flowers grow on a single stem and are usually red or orange.
The genus is native to South Africa and can survive without water for extended periods due to its fleshy, water retaining leaves. It grows best in light, well draining soil.Aloes are used to a dry, sunny environment. They will grow best in full sun and temperatures ranging around 25 degrees C.
Many species of Aloe are easily available and easily propagated. It is also grown for its medicinal properties.
The family is Aloaceae and the genus is Aloe. There are many species, Aloe vera being one of the best known and most common houseplant.
Aloe plants are around 95% water and so will not survive even the mildest of frosts. If you want to grow these plants in a temperate climate you will need to bring them in during the winter months. Aloe plants that live indoors will benefit from a spell outside during sunny weather. Be sure to water them sparingly during dormant periods. The base of the plant is susceptible to rot if it becomes damp; a thin layer of gravel on top of the soil around the base can also help prevent this. Feed once or twice during the growing season.
Did You Know?
The Aloes have a thick clear gel in their leaves that is used to treat burns and minor skin abrasions. It is also useful in soothing sunburn and skin irritations. Aloe juice can be taken to calm stomach upsets, but this should be done with care as it can have side effects.