Why you should Grow Aloe Vera in a Garden
We have long known the many health benefits relating to Aloe Vera and it is one of the easiest plants to grow in the garden.
Aloe consists of a total of around 500 known species and Aloe Vera is grown for their well-known health benefits and use in alternative and homoeopathic medicine. This hardy species is the ideal specimen plant for the garden and, small or large, there are different varieties that are suited for any sunny spot. Aloe Vera - all species - are hardy and drought-tolerant and flourish in hot weather and are probably one of the easiest plants to grow as they require almost zero care and attention. Once they are settled in the right spot, they will reward you will new shoots for new plants that can be removed and planted to add to your Aloe collection.
Who knew that such as small plant could have so much healing power!
Not just for gardens, you can even grow Aloe on a sunny balcony or close to a sunny window in the home. Some of the Aloe species have grey-green leaves, some even have a hint of blue while others can be yellow-green, but one thing they all have in common is their striking shapes. Considered a sculptural plant, when growing and healthy in its environment, Aloes can be planted in large pots to provide a feature in the garden. Use solar or LED lamps to highlight the plants at night and they will light up the landscape.
It is easy to distinguish Aloe Vera from other species by the clear gel found on the inside of the leaves.
Aloe should not be confused with Agave, and although they do share some similarities, Agave generally has a sharper profile and the Agave species grow to enormous size, too large for the average garden. The easiest way to determine whether you have Agave or Aloe in the garden is to cut off a leaf close to the base of the plant. Aloe has a slimy, clear gel inside that is what we know as Aloe Vera, but Agave leaves have a fibrous structure and no sap.
Planted prominently in gardens around the country, Aloes can present a striking pose as a sculptural plant, particularly one that is allowed to grow to maturity. You will find assorted Aloe species at garden centres, allowing you to select one best suited for the size of your garden.
How to Grow Aloe Vera
This is one plant that demands very little apart from a sunny location. It is drought-resistant and will easily go through winter without any watering, making it an invaluable specimen in a water-wise garden. It does prefer well-drained or sandy soil. These plants do not like to have wet roots, so don't water, and let nature care for them. As the plant matures, new shoots will appear at the bottom of the plant, and these can eventually be snipped off and planted for new plants to be established.
How to Harvest Aloe Vera
- Allow the plant to reach a stage where it has several leaves that can be removed at a time without affecting the shape of the plant. Make sure that the leaves are undamaged. Leaves are cut off at the bottom and this can be done with a clean-sharp knife. Cut as close to the base of the leaf as possible.
- Trim off any prickly edges with a sharp knife or scissors and then wash the leaves and wipe dry.
- Use a sharp knife to remove the outer coating of the leaf, on the top or bottom side, so that you can remove the fleshy gel inside the leaf. This is the essential part that you will use. You only want the clear gel, so be sure to leave everything else behind.
- Cut the removed gel into slices and place them into a clean container.
- For a smooth gel, place the gel slices into a blender and then strain to remove the pulp.
The video below explains in detail how to harvest Aloe leaves for pure Aloe Vera gel that can be used on your hair, and body, for sunburn or treatment of for burns or scalding.