Aloe vera is a stemless succulent plant, mostly adapted to arid and semi-arid habitats. The plant may reach to a height of about 90 cm. It usually flowers during the summer season. Aloe vera is commonly grown as an ornamental plant, either indoors or outdoors. As it can tolerate extreme drought conditions, it is one of the most favorite medicinal plants for growing in rock gardens and other areas that receive less rainfall. It is also resistant to almost all pests, except a few scale insects and bugs. Hence, maintaining an Aloe plant is comparatively easier than other ornamental plants.
Simple Tips for Growing Aloe Vera Plant
- One of the most important points to be considered is that this plant cannot tolerate heavy frost or snow, as more than 90% of the plant consists of water. Hence, if you are planning to grow this wonderful medicinal plant, make sure to plant it after frost or make necessary arrangements to protect it from frost and snow.
- Prepare a moderately fertile potting soil. You can purchase ready-made soil or prepare it on your own by using sandy and well-drained soil, supplemented with dry leaves and humus. Garden soil is not recommended, as it is heavy and not preferable for keeping indoors. Add the potting soil to about two-third of the pot, place the plant at the center and then refill the remaining soil. Then, tamp the soil surrounding the plant.
- Do not water the plant excessively, as it can increase the risk of certain potential diseases and pests. In fact, the amount of water required by the plant varies depending upon the season. For example, during the winter season, this plant is nearly dormant, and hence, requires a very little moisture. In case of summer season, watering should be done to such an extent that the top soil remains moist.
- It is advisable to place the plant in indirect sunlight to protect it from scorching heat. In winter months, place the plant outdoors; whereas in summer months, you can keep it in the windowsill.
- As Aloe vera has spreading roots, you can repot the plant every year for better growth. Another indication is the development of new shoots around the main plant. Remove the new shoots after they attain a height of about 4 inches and plant them in different pots. While repotting the mother plant, always opt for larger pots, rather than using a deeper one. You can trim off the excess roots and replant it in another pot.
Aloe for Medicinal Purposes
For first aid treatments of burns, cuts, wounds, or insect bites, you can harvest Aloe vera leaves by cutting them with sharp knives. Then, trim the sides of the leaf, and slice it lengthwise from the center. Take out the transparent leaf sap and apply it to the affected area. Due to its multipurpose uses in herbal medicine, Aloe vera is also referred to as Medicinal Aloe.
Commercially, there are two products of Aloe vera, viz., gel and latex. Aloe gel is extracted from the clear leaf pulp, whereas aloe latex or juice is a yellow exudate that is extracted from below the leaf epidermis. Both these two aloe products are used for cosmetic and therapeutic purposes. Though there are several claims regarding health benefits of Aloe vera, there are a very few scientific proofs that support these claims.