Aloe Vera – {Aloaceae Family}

Let’s start with one of the easiest (and most well known) succulents to grow!

ALOE VERA or Aloe Barbadensis [Ah-Loh Bar-Ba-Den-Sis ]

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Aloe resides in the Aloaceae family, along with Astroloba, Bulbine, Chortolirion, Gasteria, Haworthia, Lomatophyllum and Poellnitzia. Which we will cover later. Did you know that there are over 450 varieties of Aloe?

Max growth: 1-2 feet

Zone: US 10b — temperature should remain above 40 Fahrenheit to grow outdoors.

Here’s some background info:

-The many varieties of Aloe are distributed from across southern Africa, Arabia, Madagascar and the Mascarene Islands. Some has been sourced in Australia as well.

-Aloe Vera’s origin is apparently unknown, as the plant quickly became well-known for it’s medicinal capabilities and thus was distributed near and far.

-Some people whom suffer from extreme skin sensitivities have been known to react negatively to Aloe Vera use, contrary to the promotion of it’s health benefits.

How to use Aloe for health benefits:

This all depends on who you ask- as many cultures will agree on particular benefits, some have claims of additional healing powers. Lets start with what is in Aloe Vera, that is so magical:

There are 2 substances that can be obtained from Aloe Vera; gel within the centre cells of the leaves, and latex from the cells within the leaves but right under the skin. The gel can be used for:

-burns / sunburns

-skin conditions ie. psoriasis

-frostbite

-cold sores

-osteoarthritis

-bowel disease

-fever

-itching

-inflammation

-asthma

-diabetes

-stomach ulcers

-soothing the side effects of radiation treatment

(Some of these items on the list, I did not actually know could be relieved by Aloe. I would be interested to know if anyone has attempted to utilize Aloe Vera to relieve these issues. Please comment below if you’ve tried it out!)

The latex right under the skin can be used for:

-constipation

-depression

-asthma

-diabetes

WOW! Did you know all of this? Let’s see what methods people have used for these benefits…

1. Aloe Vera for Dry Skin – Take some aloe vera, a pinch of turmeric, a teaspoon of honey, a teaspoon of milk and a few drops of rose water. Blend this mix till you get a paste. Apply it and leave in for about 20 minutes or so.

2. Aloe Vera Scrub – Grab half a cup of fresh aloe vera gel, a cup of sugar and two tablespoons of lemon juice. The sugar will help exfoliate and scrub off dead skin, the aloe vera will deep clean the skin and the lemon will help fade out scars and tan. Stir the three ingredients together and use it to scrub both face and body.

3. Aloe Vera for Acne – Take some aloe vera gel, blended walnuts with a flour like consistency and honey. Aloe vera’s healing properties coupled with the anti-oxidantsfrom honey will leave you with smooth and clear skin.

4. Aloe vera for Sensitive Skin – Grab some aloe vera gel, cucumber juice, yoghurt and rose oil and blend them to a paste. Apply and leave for around 20 minutes, then rinse it off.

Caring for this plant:

Soil / Pot– Make sure you are using a cactus / succulent medium of soil. If you do not have one.. you can substitute regular potting soil mixed with sand, in a 2:1 ratio. You want to have a dry, well draining dirt. If your pot does not have a hole in the bottom, be sure to add an inch or so of rocks to allow adequate drainage. If you do not do this, you will allow your Aloe to become susceptible to root rot (which is caused by sitting in water too long).

Watering: You will want to let your Aloe dry out completely between waterings. Most forums will tell you that you should water weekly. In my experience, I would say every 10-14 days (this also depends on your location and the time frame in which it dries out). The thing with Aloes is that they prefer to be on somewhat of a schedule for watering, or so I have noticed with my administration of care. If you are watering sporadically, you will notice that the Aloe’s leaves are turning yellow. This will also be the case with over watering. Get your Aloe on a schedule and it should revert back to a lovely, healthy green.

Light: Aloes, like most succulents, prefer to be receiving lots of bright light. Never direct sun — some say direct sun is preferable, but with prolonged exposure, your Aloe could get a sunburn. If your Aloe is getting too much sun, you will notice the tips of the leaves becoming crunchy and have a slightly burned look to them. I suggest a room with a South facing window to receive optimal light.

Issues:

Winter: Aloes will go through a dormant period in the winter, so do not be alarmed when it begins to look a little poor. As soon as warmer weather returns, so will your beautiful little healer. Just be sure to allow your Aloe to receive adequate light. Watering will also be much less frequent. Every 3-6 weeks.

Leaves pointing down: Your Aloe is not getting enough light! Usually an Aloe will extend it’s arms up towards the sun. If there is not enough light, your Aloe will be pointing downwards and attempting to spread itself in order to get more light.

Crispy leaves: Your Aloe may have had a scab, been snipped, etc from typical medicinal use. If happening on it’s own, your plant is getting too much light and is becoming sun burned.

Yellow leaves: Your Aloe is being picky and would like to be put on a better watering schedule. OR — you are over watering. Try out a schedule as noted above and see how it perks up!

Propagating:

What is better than MORE ALOE? You can propagate your plant to give you exactly that. Your plant will produce offsets, which are otherwise known as “babies,” or “pups”. These can be removed from the parent plant to give you a whole new plant! You can also propagate using just cuttings! Cool.

METHOD 1:

Gently remove your Aloe Vera from it’s pot (hold as much of the plant in your hand as you can and tip the pot on it’s side to remove. Find where the offsets are attached (they will just look like another leaf coming up from the base – separate from the mother plant). Your best bet would be to attempt to carefully pull the baby apart from the mother. If this does not work, you can cut it off, using a sharp knife.

Here is a baby:

removing_an_aloe_vera_from_its_pot.jpg

[Photo Courtesy of https://www.houseplantsexpert.com/propagating-an-aloe-vera-plant-and-repotting.html]

This is how NOT to remove a baby (shown below). The photo shows damage being done to the parent plant.

cutting_an_unhealthy_aloe_vera_leaf_off.jpg

[Photo Courtesy of https://www.houseplantsexpert.com/propagating-an-aloe-vera-plant-and-repotting.html]

If you removed a baby successfully by pulling apart, without incurring damage, you can plant it right away. If you made a cut in order to remove the baby, you will have to wait until the wound forms a scab or callus (a day or two) then pot in standard succulent potting mix. Place in a sunny location and wait about a week or so to provide an initial watering. Maintain plant as regular Aloe care.

METHOD 2:

Cuttings are a much less reliable for propagation than offsets, and often will not root properly.

aloe_cutting.jpg

[Photo Courtesy of https://www.houseplantsexpert.com/propagating-an-aloe-vera-plant-and-repotting.html]

You will note in the photo above, the individual is using a sharp knife and making clean cut mid leaf. You can also cut close to the mother plant to maintain the main plant’s aesthetic appearance.

Leave the leaf out about a week or so to form the scab / or callus over the wound. If you do not have rooting hormone, this may take longer for roots to form. Otherwise, dip your Aloe scabbed area in rooting hormone and you can plant almost immediately.

Tip: Some suggest also dipping your Aloe wound into honey, which acts as an antibacterial and prevents infections to your plant. Neat.

Plant your Aloe in moist soil, and do not water until thoroughly dry again. If your Aloe turns brown and begins to deteriorate, your propagation has been unsuccessful. If your Aloe appears to be growing, congratulations!

 LEARN HOW TO STORE (FREEZE) ALOE VERA HERE:
Thanks for stopping by and learning a bit about Aloe Vera. If you have anything to add, please do so – I would love the feedback!
Here is my very own Aloe VeraIMG_1168.JPG

We have to thank the following for contributing information to this post:

Sources: http://succulent-plant.com/families/aloaceae.html 

https://draxe.com/aloe-vera-benefits/

http://food.ndtv.com/beauty/6-amazing-benefits-aloe-vera-hair-skin-weight-loss-1221869

http://www.aloeplant.info/aloe-light/

https://www.houseplantsexpert.com/propagating-an-aloe-vera-plant-and-repotting.html

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