It seems that besides the African violet, the Aloe plant is one of the most commonly kept houseplants. Although there are over three-hundred Aloe species, Aloe vera is perhaps the most popular due to its reputed skin-soothing nature. Having problems growing this common succulent? Read on!
The Aloe vera is a succulent plant from Africa well adapted to droughty conditions and less-than-wonderful soil. This Aloe can be grown in a pot using well-drained soil suitable for cacti. Place it in full sun area and make sure not to overwater – that also means no excess water sitting in the saucer underneath the pot. Repotting may be required from time to time as the plant grows. Step it up into a pot just a bit bigger than the old one as too big of a container could hold excess moisture and trigger a root rot situation. Although able to grow indoors in a sunny location, the Aloe vera will adapt to less light and then can actually sunburn if suddenly brought outdoors into full sun. This makes you ask the question, “Should you break open a leaf and rub the gel on the Aloe’s own burns?” No, but just keep in mind that plants, even desert plants, can get sunburned and are best moved gradually out into full sun. As a plant in a pot on the kitchen window, the gelatinous material that comes from the thick leaves can sooth minor burns and sunburns for us humans.
As a Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ groundcover, Aloe vera does well in full sun areas with well-drained soil. Water to establish the plants, but from then on allow them to survive on rain water alone. Mature plants that can grow upwards to two-feet tall will eventually produce stalks of attractive showy yellow or red flowers in the spring. Original plants will develop side-shoots and gradually fill in an area with additional plants. I started with one small pot installed in a flower bed which has now spread into a four-foot wide patch of tightly packed plants.
The Aloe vera is a simple plant with multiple uses. They make great gifts, attractive groundcovers and provide cooling burn relief when needed. For more information on all types of plants for your garden, please call our Master Gardener volunteers on the Plant Lifeline on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1 to 4 pm at 764-4340 for gardening help and insight into their role as an Extension volunteer. Don't forget to visit our other County Plant Clinics in the area. Please check this link for a complete list of site locations, dates and times - http://charlotte.ifas.ufl.edu/horticulture/Plant%20Clinics%20Schedule.pdf.
Jordi, R. (2006) Aloe vera. The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS - Nassau County
Gardening Solutions (2015) Aloe vera. The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS
The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Guide to Plant Selection & Landscape Design, 1st ed. (2010). The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS