Aloe vera is a hardy succulent native to Africa that's easy to grow. It thrives in poor soil and requires very little water. The gel that comes from its thick leaves is often used to cool minor burns and sunburns. Keeping an aloe plant in your kitchen is a great idea; a leaf can be quickly grabbed, split open, and placed on burnt skin to quicken healing time.
Aloe is a great plant to start out with as it doesn't require much water or attention and can be grown for years in a pot; just be sure to let the soil dry between waterings.
The aloe has long, thick, spiny leaves that fan out from the center. When grown outdoors, Aloe vera produces showy yellow or red flowers on stalks that emerge from the center of the plant in late winter or spring; plants grown indoors will rarely bloom. Aloe plants can grow to a height of two feet.
Planting and Care
Aloe vera grown indoors can be moved outside during the summer; plants can be grown outside year-round in zones 8-11. If you decide to move your indoor aloe vera plant outside, make the move gradual as the plant can sunburn when moved from low to bright light too quickly, and conversely, may show some stress when moved from a warm sunny area to dimmer indoor areas.
Aloe is drought tolerant; only water your plant when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch. When you do water, water it well, but never let your plant sit in water.
Aloe can be grown in any well-drained quality potting media and should be repotted as needed to refresh the media or to give the plant room to grow. The size of your aloe plant will depend on the amount of room you provide for root growth. To keep your aloe plant small, keep it in a smaller pot; to promote growth, move your aloe to a larger pot to give it room to grow. Be sure to not increase the new pot by more than two pot sizes; too large a container can hold too much moisture that could lead to root rot.
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