Aloe Vera

How To Care For Aloe Vera Plants
By Jo Johansson
The plant makes a great choice for growing at home. It's easy to look after, and has some interesting side benefits.

The plant is a short-stemmed succulent perennial, which grows 60-85 cm tall. It has thick spiky green leaves which grow in a rosette formation from the base of the plant. Found predominantly in hot, dry climates, the aloe looks a lot like a cactus, although it's actually a member of the lily and onion family.

The leaves of the plant can grow to over a foot long and about 3 inches across. The leaves are thick and fleshy and hold a lot of water, which means the plant can survive extended periods of drought. In all, there are roughly 200 species of aloe, although the plant that has come to be cultivated the most is Aloe Barbadensis Miller, also known as or literally, 'true aloe'. You'll find it growing across Texas, Mexico and around the Mediterranean.

Aloe Vera plants are very easy to care for and easy to grow in frost-free climates - either as houseplants or outdoors. However plants do need a lot of sunlight, so it's best to place them in a sunny spot, or near a window that gets lots of sunlight. A common mistake that many people make is the tendency to over-water. Remember these plants are succulents - they hold water in their leaves to cope with long periods of drought. So they need less water than you might think.

You should be able to purchase an plant near you, at a

garden store or nursery. Some plants have small white markings on the leaf. This is nothing to worry about, and will fade as the plant gets older. Look for a healthy plant, with thick leaves and dry soil. You certainly don't want to give plants too much water, and in the winter, even less. So make sure the roots aren't waterlogged, and the soil is sandy.

Aloes like to have some room to grow, so do re-pot them as necessary. Expect that a mature plant (about 4 years old) maybe about one metre high and 50cm across the widest part of the leaves. But the pot won't have to be that large, because the stem and root system is quite shallow. If the outer leaves start to sag or show their age, they can be sliced off, or gently pulled away from the stem.

Once you have an plant, you'll have many! You'll find that you'll get lots of pups - small plants that grow from the lower part of the main plant. You'll have to remove these gently and re-pot them, or give them to your friends. They make great gifts! If you leave them with the main aloe vera, they can sap too much energy from the main aloe and cause it to wither.

With a little care and attention, plants can live for many years, and provide a fascinating addition to your home or garden, as well as a wonderful source of gel. To obtain this gel, just remove one of the lower leaves, cut it in half along its length, and rub the inner pulp over the affected area of skin.
Jo Johansson loves writing and exploring all things related to natural health and nutrition. For more information on pure aloe vera products, check out

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