The ability of the sap of aloe vera to soothe burns is well known, but did you know that aloe vera is a beautiful, drought tolerant plant that can be grown in almost any garden?
Aloe vera is a succulent plant that is native to Africa and is belongs to the Lily family of plants. This attractive succulent can be grown both indoors and outdoors. In zone 9 and above, aloe vera grows outdoors throughout the year. However, it can be enjoyed by gardeners in all climates by being brought indoors when temperatures dip below freezing and then taken back outside once the weather warms up.
In the garden, aloe vera looks best when planted in groups. They are suitable for use next to pools in containers and also looks great when planted along a walkway.
Like most succulents, aloe vera is an excellent container plant, which is helpful for those who live in colder climates and need to bring it indoors in winter. Aloe vera need well-drained soil, so when planting them in containers, be sure to use a potting mix that is specially formulated for succulents.
The leaves of aloe vera are thick and fleshly with ‘teeth’ on the edges. Water is stored inside of the leaves that grow 1 to 2 feet high and have a rosette form at the base of the plant. Aloe vera produce new plants along the outside of the main clump of leaves. These young plants can be divided (removed with a sharp shovel) and replanted elsewhere in the garden or given to friends.
Spikes of yellow flowers appear in spring and throughout the early summer months. Hummingbirds eagerly descend upon the flowers of aloe vera much to the delight of gardeners who grow this beautiful plant.
Plant aloe vera in an area that receives full sun or partial shade. In areas with hot, reflected sun – aloe vera will do best in an area that gets afternoon sun.
While drought tolerant, aloe vera does best with some supplemental water in the absence of rainfall. Water deeply and then allow the top 3 inches of soil to dry out before watering again. If the tips of the leaves begin to brown, that is a sign that they need more water.
Beside the beauty that aloe vera brings to the landscape, they are also handy to have on hand when you have an abrasion or burn – simply cut off a leaf from the bottom, cut lengthwise and press the open part to your wound.