Plant of immortality, lily of the desert, the burn care plant — a plant with many names, uses and amazing properties. Aloe plants are used widely in the medicinal and cosmetic world and is a favourite amongst indigenous gardeners. Learn about the interesting features this plant has to offer and use our tips to give it the best care and get the most out of it.
Say aloe to this wonder plant
Found in tropical climates spanning the continents of Africa, Asia, Europe and some parts of southwestern regions of America, aloe plants span their brilliance far and wide. The plants belong to the Asphodelaceae family and classifies as a succulent. Throughout history up until now, this plant family is a go-to for health, wellbeing and beauty treatments. For insights into just some of the varieties available, explore a special feature in our Succulent Series. In it, we present three unique variations, how to care for them and some fun facts.
Extra, extra! Read aloe about it
This wonder plant is the root of many traditional treatments and provides a great alternative for those seeking a natural option for their ailments. This super succulent contains impressive polyphenols (micronutrients) filled with antioxidants, which aid in inhibiting bacterial growth and reducing possible infection. Additionally, the plant’s flesh and juices serve as super ingredients in products helping towards:
- Healing minor burns
- Reducing dental plaque
- Boosting collagen production and skin’s elasticity
- Assisting diabetics with insulin sensitivity and ultimately blood sugar management
- Aiding with clearing acne and cold sores
Edible versus non-edible aloe plants
It is imperative to differentiate the two main aloe plants from each other as incorrect use will lead to complications. To give yourself a quick lesson, familiarise yourself with this guide.
Edible — Aloe vera barbadensis | Aloe barbadensis | Aloe vera barbadensis var. miller
This variety is ingestible and serves several health benefits. With the right approach, you can prepare the leaves like a pro. Make sure you have the right plant and look for:
- Wide thick leaves
- Grey-green colours
- Distinct circular formation of leaves (rosettes)
- Yellow flowers
Non-edible — Aloe vera var. Chinensis
This version is commonly used for burns and should not get ingested as it will lead to nausea. Make sure have the right plant and check for:
- Thinner and narrower leaves
- The spotted pattern on leaves
- Orange flowers
Bring a plant home
We have lovely plants in stock that you can bring home. Choose from our dramatic Aloidendron (Aloe) barberae (bainesii), also known as the Tree Aloe. This option is wonderful for rockeries, grassland gardens or mixed plantings.
Another lovely choice is the Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis), known as the quick fix for minor burns. In addition to featuring in your garden, it also does well in a pot on a sunny windowsill, patio or balcony.
For a sizzle in your succulent garden, add Aloe ‘Peri Peri’, the Peri Peri Aloe. This is a smaller variety that grows to about 40cm and produces a flaming bunch of hot orange-red flowers. A perfectly feisty addition to your collection.
Care guide and tips for aloe plants
While the plant thrives in tropical climates, you can bring it into the home. Focus on placing it in a space with 6-8 hours of sunlight a day, preferably bright indirect light. They do well in partial shade, with some able to tolerate full sun in the wild. Younger plants do not require as much sunlight as more mature plants.
As a succulent, it does best with well-draining soil. You will do well to avoid using gardening soils or fertilisers. Think of sandy soils: incorporate river sand in your soil, or create layers of perlite, lava rock, and bits of bark together. Water infrequently to avoid root rot and browning leaves.
When they produce tall leggy extensions, trim back the dry stems and leaves to enhance their visual appeal for a fresh look. It propagates easily, so you can expect a healthy spread if cared for properly.
During the spring and summer months, water your plant every 2-3 weeks.
As for autumn and winter, water sparingly. These succulents are a top pick for dry seasons with their water-storing succulents fleshy leaves. They are great for adding instant colour and also attract birds feeding on nectar. Be sure to keep them at about 21°C, but bring them in if the temperature drops below 16°C and adjust sunlight indoors as they may get sunburnt.
Flowers are more common in the wild and not so much with indoor plants. They need sufficient light as well as the right temperatures throughout the seasons. If you are wanting to encourage blooms of yellow or orange, move it outside. When doing so, take time to transition the plant. Place it in the shade outdoors and then slowly shift it to a brighter location after about a week.
Stun, soothe, and save water
Aloe plants are truly an incredible group of plants, both in their natural state and as dynamic organic tools. For more information on garden and plant care throughout the seasons, explore our vast gardening guide or contact us.