Aloe Vera

(aloe happily thriving in parking lot in Hawaii )

As far back as Egyptian times Cleopatra used the juice in the leaves of this plant have been used to treat her skin, burns and wounds. It is a fantastic healing salve. The juice does not keep well so try to keep a fresh aloe plant in the house.

Treat this as you would any cactus. Water it only when the soil is dry about 4 inches down. Thoroughly water it when you do water it. Allow excess water drain out of the bottom of the pot.

Aloe needs quite a bit of direct sunlight. Place it in a south facing window with no blinds or curtains blocking light. If it is not getting enough light, as is often the case in winter here in New England, the leaves will get soft and may bend down and crease.

Aloes have shallow root systems and so prefer wide rather than tall pots.

Cactus do not like to be fertilized. Do not fertilize them or fertilize lightly if you must.

When the aloe vera plant is large and old enough, it will begin to grow babies which you can separate out into separate plants when they are large enough.

I found several websites mentioning aloe vera as a poisonous plant but little information. I suggest you do not eat the plant, better to look at it and use it on burns.

Dying aloe plants can usually be revived by giving them lots of sunlight and little water. Use fluorescent table lamps to bring up the light level for your plant if you are going through a long dark winter.

Happy aloe plants will bloom indoors.

The name aloe is from Greek and refers to the bitter juice in the leaves. It is originally from Africa and its use has been recorded over the last 6000 years, even making an appearance in the Bible.

It was the sap (resin), not the gel that was originally used medicinally. The sap is first boiled down into a black gel.

Lack of sun and too much water are common causes of problems in aloes grown inside.

Leaves bent down instead of up means too little light.

Rust is a group of fungi that attack many plants. Each fungi attacks a specific plant. This occurs from too little sun and too much water.

The best fix is to give the plant more sun and drier air. That’s not so easy outside and not during the occasional cold, wet spells we get in Houston.

The next option is to use a fungicide. You can find them at any place that sells plant supplies.

As long as the wet, cold spell does not last too long, the fungus should not hurt the plant, just discolor it.