Plant of the Month, October – Aloe
This month we are celebrating the wonderful plant that is Aloe… whether you have a small individual plant or a larger group, they are a wonderful low maintenance plant to bring joy to your home.
Aloe vera is a succulent from the Asphodel family and has been growing on the Arabian Peninsula for millions of years. The name derives from the Arabic word ‘Alloeh’, which means ‘shiny bitter fluid’. This refers to the cooling, gel-like liquid in the leaves. ‘Vera’ effectively means ‘the real thing’.
As a desert plant, Aloe must survive in an extreme climate, which is why it produces more than 75 substances to help it cope. For example, if a leaf is damaged the ‘wound’ will immediately be sealed with coagulating sap in order to retain as much moisture as possible, just as with humans. The active ingredients in Aloe have also been found to have healing properties for humans. The ancient Egyptians called it ‘the immortality plant’. The first description in European documents dates from 1655. Nowadays Aloe also occurs in countries around the Mediterranean, Indonesia, Mexico and the Caribbean.
Care Tips for Aloe
- Aloe is very easy to care for, thanks to its succulent properties: the plant stores moisture in the thick leaf rosettes to get it through dry periods.
- Water once a fortnight. The pot soil can be left to dry out between waterings.
- Aloe likes a light and sunny spot. The plant can also be placed outdoors on the patio or balcony in the summer months.
- Feed once a month during the growth season.
- Aloe flowers after a short rest period in the winter, during which the plant should have little water and no food. The plant develops when the days start getting longer again, at which point you should give it some more water and food.
What to look for when buying Aloe:
- When buying Aloe, look at the pot size and the size of the rosette. Sometimes there are already small rosettes on the plant that lend greater volume to Aloe and make it a bit more appealing.
- The succulent properties of the leaves mean that Aloe is not particularly prone to diseases. However, there can sometimes be mealybug between the leaf rosettes. Because this is very difficult to tackle with Aloe, it’s a good idea to avoid buying such a plant.
- If the plant has been given too much water, the leaf rosettes can start to rot. It’s better for the soil to be a little too dry than much too wet.
- If the plant spends too long in a spot with insufficient light, this will detract from the quality. The plants can then start to stretch, or the colour can fade.
Displaying Aloe in your home or office
Aloe are striking plants in their own right and look fab displayed in simple containers either on their own or grouped together. Buying a couple of different sizes and varieties is a great way to create a mini garden effect.
I love to customise plain containers to give them an individual style – we had great fun in the shop creating these ‘punny’ pots!