Aloe is a genus covering around 500 species of flowering and succulent plant. Most famous of all is “Aloe vera.” It basically belongs to Africa, Madagascar and Arabian Peninsula. They have a rosette of thick, large and fleshy leaves.
The leaves are usually lance shaped having a sharp apex and a spiny margin. The flowers are tubular found in yellow, orange, pink or red colour. They are clustered densely and attached at the apex of branched or simple leaf and at the stem in case of leafless species.
Most of the species appear to be Stem less with Rosette blooming directly at the ground level. While some of the varieties have a branched or unbranched stem giving rise to the fleshy leaves. The leaves are grey to bright green in colour, while some of them are striped. Some appear to be tree like.
Many of the species are cultivated as an ornamental plant in gardens or pots. Being highly decorative they are valued by those who are interested in collecting succulents.
Aloe vera the most widely used type is applied externally as well as used internally for various medicinal effects. The gel made from aloe vera is effective in healing sun burns. It is also widely used to manufacture skin care soap.
They were widely used to prepare herbal medicine as a part of ancient sciences. They can be used as a first aid to cure minor wounds or cuts at home. The inner pulp is known to relieve from skin discomforts. It is also made into syrup to cure digestive inconsistency problems. But a word of caution is that it is allergen and must be tested before use, as it may cause itching and skin irritation to some people. Aloe vera is also used to treat Type II Diabetes.
Strong Bright sunlight is favourable. They also need bright light in winters. Water requirement is high, especially in summers, although in winters, not much watering is necessary. You must not let the water stand in the rosettes. It can survive a temperature as low as 40 Fahrenheit but the adequate recommendation would be 70 to 80 Fahrenheit.
The soil must be well drained and fed with Cactus fertilizers in summer season only. During repotting, if the root ball is large, it can be divided to grow into 2 individual plants that can optimally survive on their own. They don’t grow quite fast so you may not be able to repot it further but in case you are able to, you must repot in springs and repot only those which are tipping over their pots and have stopped growing further. You must use a fast drained repotting mix with one third of sand or pebble. Water should not be allowed to stand in the pot as it may damage the rosette. Although it required no other special care and once grown it is quite a beneficial plant to have at home for it can be a homemade medicine for many ailments.