Aloe vera is your new best friend!
Aloe vera, or aloe barbadensis has been growing for thousands of years dating back to the 17th century. It is most commonly known for its medicinal purposes and bright green fleshy leaves. Also known as Chinese Aloe, Indian Aloe, True Aloe, Barbados Aloe, Burn Aloe, First Aid Plant for green thumbs in training it is one of the easiest plants to care for. It thrives in warm tropical climates but can be grown all over the world. It is an attractive indoor plant as it not only looks great but also has many medicinal purposes.
How to Grow Aloe Vera
Growing Aloe Vera is a relatively straight forward. It is drought tolerant and needs very little care so little that the most common reason it dies is when it is given too much love! Plant in a pot (that has a drainage hole) or straight in your garden bed with a sandy cacti based soil. Given enough space aloe vera will grow up to 1m tall and produces a orangey-pink flower in summer.
Aloe vera plants loves the sun so place your plant in a well-lit position and water your aloe every couple of weeks, being mindful not to over do it. Aloe vera isn’t fussy and generally speaking doesn’t need any fertiliser. There is no special season for aloe so harvest as required.
How to propagate aloe vera
Aloe vera is one of the easiest plants to propagate, if you’ve had your aloe plant for a while you might notice some smaller aloe plants growing, these are what are called aloe pups. Simply gently pull them out of the soil and plant in a separate pot. They make great gifts!
You can also propagate aloe vera from a single leaf but its success rate isn’t as high. Take one whole leaf and plant it stem side down in cacti or succulent mix.
Where to buy
Aloe vera plants are readily available in Australia, if you can’t find a friend who will give you a pup or two head to your nearest nursery or hardware.
Leaves turning brown: if the leaves on your aloe plant are turning a purplish brown chances are your plant is getting too much direct sunlight. Move to a partially shady position and watch the leaves turn bright green again in just a couple of days.
Spacing on stem between leaves: this is what is called reaching and happens when your plant isn’t getting enough sunlight. Move into a sunnier position.
How to use Aloe Vera
Aloe vera can be used for many purposes, but the way that it is harvested remains the same. Cut a large leaf off of the plant (as close to the stem as possible) and using a sharp knife cut away one layer of skin. Inside the leaves is a clear gel or sap.
Aloe Vera Benefits
Did you know that Cleopatra allegedly used Aloe vera to help keep her skin looking beautiful? Although few scientific studies confirm the effectiveness of aloe vera the cosmetics and alternative medicine industries have been using it for many centuries.
1. Wound healing
Aloe vera leaves are living first-aid sachets, aloe is a natural antiseptic which helps clean and heal damaged skin, it is also thought to help reduce scarring. If you have a more intense burn try making these aloe vera and marigold frozen gel cubes.
Aloe is most commonly known for treating mild burns. Aloe has both moisturising and healing qualities which helps skin return to its original state. It is a common remedy for sunburn, with most after sun gels listing aloe vera as one of the main ingredients.
Aloe water is a popular beverage in Asian countries as it is thought to aid digestion it has laxative properties which helps combat constipation. Although it is still available in Australia, the ingestion of aloe vera was banned in the US by the Food and Drug Administration in 2002. Warning: it is recommended that you consume a maximum of two glasses of aloe vera juice per day.
Aloe vera with its moisturising properties is a great natural way to treat dry scalp conditions like dandruff. Coat your hair from root to tip in aloe vera and leave it to soak for 30 minutes before rinsing.