Name: Aloe Vera, burn plant, lily of the desert, Aloe barbadensis
Description: Aloe vera is a perennial succulent herb which grows in clumps and is well known for its healing qualities. The fleshy leaves are green with white markings and have serrated edges. Mature leaves are sometimes greyish green or have a slight pinkish brown tinge.
Aloe vera features in Egyptian stone carvings which are 6000 years old. It was known as the plant of immortality because it was given to deceased pharaohs as a burial gift.
The edges of the leaves are serrated
The pulp from the leaves can be squeezed directly onto a wound or sun burnt skin to aid healing. Alternatively the leaves can be cut off at the base, wrapped in aluminium foil and kept in the fridge for a few days to be used as needed.
Wrap cut leaves in foil and store in fridge for a few days
The flowers are orange and bell shaped.
Size: Aloe vera grows to 60 to 100cm (24” to 39”).
Conditions: Aloe vera likes moderately fertile well drained soil and is happy in soil with a gravelly composition. It is a hardy plant which will survive in dry conditions. It does not do well in wet conditions as it is susceptible to root rot. It prefers full sun but can also be grown in light shade.
Aloe vera is a semi tropical plant comprised of 95% water so does not tolerate heavy frost.
Young aloe vera plant
Aloe vera grows well in pots and will tolerate being root bound. It can be grown as a house plant in potting mix designed for cacti. To avoid root rot, allow the plants to dry out between watering.
In the garden aloe vera grows well with plants from the onion family, borage and smaller scented geraniums.
Propagation: To grow aloe vera, divide an established clump at any time of the year.Young plants can also be bought from a plant nursery.
When to Plant: Aloe vera can be grown at any time of the year.