Plant of the month: Aloe vera

Our plant of the
month comes from
James Cameron,

See more plants here.

It’s the ones we love that hurt us the most – and the sun is no exception. But never fear, good ol’ aloe vera is here to pick us up, soothe our aching hearts and cool our crispy sunburns.

Names such as these
Aloe vera is commonly grown as a houseplant and gained favour because the gel from its leaves makes a soothing skin salve. It is used for its health, beauty, and medicinal properties. The name derives from the Arabic word “alloeh” meaning “shining bitter substance”, while “vera” is Latin for “true”.

Let’s have a look
Its thick, succulent leaves are plumped up with a watery gel. The leaves grow from the base of the plant and have jagged edges with flexible spines. It’s fast-growing, taking only a few years to reach a mature size. The spiky flowers appear on stalks, in shades of yellow, red, or orange.

Did you know?
Aloe vera has been used for medicinal purposes for millennia in Greece, Egypt, India, Mexico, Japan and China. Egyptian queens Nefertiti and Cleopatra used it as part of their beauty regimens. Alexander the Great and Christopher Columbus used it to treat soldiers’ wounds.

When grown outdoors it is best grouped with other succulents with similar needs. It needs a sandy or gravelly soil. To blend aloe into a border planting, pot it separately and use it as a focal point. Raising the pot to eye level will make it more prominent. Potted aloe grow well on decks and patios, where it is handy in an emergency for soothing burns and bites.


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