Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Aloe Vera, known as the healing plant, is easy to care for indoors or in the garden. It is a drought tolerant succulent plant which grows well in dry shade to part sun.
Aloes have bright green stalks that grow up to 1 foot long and up to 2 inches thick They usually have creamy white stripes or dots along the leaves.
Aloe vera plants grow upright and spread with time by creating clumping offsets. Perennial aloe produces dramatic, bright orange flowers on long stalks in the spring and summer. Used medicinally aloe vera gel is beneficial for burns, minor cuts, scrapes, insect bites and other skin irritations.
Water wise aloe vera is great for xeriscaping in dry gardens with other succulents and cacti. They don't mind heat as long as they don't get too much sun. Aloe does best in light or dappled shade on the porch or on the windowsill in the kitchen. It is even reliable in dry shade. One to two hours of direct sun is plenty.
Dark brown or orange spots on the leaves is a sign of sunburn. Indoors, aloe prefer bright, indirect sunlight. If they are getting sun in a window, keep an eye on them for brown spots. You can either move the plant further away from the window, or give it a screen.
Aloe vera is easy to care for and usually only needs water once a month or when the stalks become shriveled. Planted in the ground, it can tolerate more drought and will grow slightly larger.
Aloe plants are cold hardy to about 45 degrees. Mine have survived a light dusting of frost, but they have overhead protection. I wouldn't leave them outdoor in the open if Jack Frost visits your area frequently. Dark, shriveled stalks are a sign of frost damage on these succulent plants.
Indoors, aloe vera plants are suited to the hot dry conditions of the average home and make excellent houseplants. They will tolerate a few hours of sun a day, but should be fine anywhere with lots of bright, indirect sunlight.
Aloe vera plants form offset pups and will eventually become a clump of plants. Mine started out in a small 4" pot from the nursery. Normally, you should repot plants in a slightly larger pot. But I planted my aloe plant in a huge 12" pot, knowing it would fill in. Who has time to repot their plants all the time? They are easy to pull away from the mother plant, so you can give them to friends or spread them around the garden.