For my very first blog I am starting with the amazing herb aloe vera.
I was lucky to have been given an aloe vera plant a couple of years ago. However it wasn’t until I started my Master Herbalist course that I began to realise just how amazing this plant actually was. I can’t believe I just left it sat there on my window sill when there was so much more I could do with it.
My uses for Aloe Vera plant gel
If you break one of the meaty aloe vera plant leaves you will see a sticky gel seep out. This gel has amazing properties to assist the body to heal itself. My experiences of these are;
Last summer I was cutting our hedge with the electric trimmer and I cut through the lead. Fortunately the trimmer did cut out, but not before it had left a tiny contact burn on the inside of my right hand – Ouch! It was only 3 or 4 millimetres round, but it was sore. For a couple of days I tried antiseptic creams, but they just didn’t help with the pain and the wound kept seeping. Then I had a brainwave!
I remembered reading that aloe vera was good for burns. Therefore I broke off part of a leaf from my aloe vera plant and dabbed the neat gel onto the burn. Immediately the pain ceased, I couldn’t believe it! The burn ceased seeping and started to heal at last. Even better news is that there is no scar at all where the burn had been.
I have also used the neat gel on insect bites. I always swell up very badly when I get bitten and the bites seem to take forever to heal. The gel reduced the pain, and they did not swell up as much, or turn as red as usual. Bite sites can take well over a year to heal with me. However using the aloe vera gel my first bites from last year have already disappeared and the others are fading.
My course told me that the gel is known to treat all manor of skin problems, and therefore I’m currently trying it out on a small spot of eczema on my leg. I’ll let you know if it works.
Growing Aloe Vera Plants
My aloe vera plant had many offshoots growing which I laughingly called its “little babies.” The pot was getting so full that I decided to replant the offshoots.
I replanted the “babies” by gently pulling their roots away from the mother plant and replanting them in small terracotta pots with potting soil for succulents. The pots have holes in the bottom to drain away unwanted water which is collected in trays underneath. I wait until the offshoots are at least an inch long before separating them from the mother plant and repotting them. I must be doing something right because I have already had to replant some of them into larger pots. Here is a photograph of a couple of new “babies” I have replanted to give you an idea.
The importance of pot size
Aloe vera plants are succulents whose roots grow shallowly and horizontally. This means that a shallower pot would be best for a aloe vera plant. Despite this I have found that they tend to be sold in the standardised pots like the one shown below;
With these types of pots aloe vera roots can’t reach the bottom. Therefore I searched for wide and shallow pots for repotting the “babies” as they grew. I couldn’t believe how hard it was to find these. My local garden centres didn’t have any. Therefore I continued my search online and found the following on eBay which were perfect for my needs;
This is a link to the trays I bought to go with them;
Please take special care not to overwater your aloe vera plant. I water mine once a week, but less in the colder months where I find they do not drink very much.
Pots with holes at the bottom sitting on trays is ideal. When I water the plants as soon as I see any water seeping onto the tray I stop. Then after a few minutes of allowing the plant to drain I throw the rest of the water sitting in the tray away. This works for me.
Before I end this post I just want to share another amazing fact about the aloe vera plant. It is also air purifying by removing formaldehyde and benzene, which can be a by product of chemical-based cleaners. These air purifying plants are now all over my house.
Even my beautiful neighbour loves sitting next to the aloe vera plants!
I hope that I have inspired you to have your own aloe vera plant. If I have I would love to hear what uses you can put yours to.
Until next time keep happy and well.
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