Aloe vera
Common Name: aloe
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Xanthorrhoeaceae
Native Range: Mediterranean
Zone: 10 to 12
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Evergreen
Tolerate: Drought

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zone 10-12. In St. Louis, it may be grown indoors in containers. As a houseplant, it is easily grown in sandy well-drained commercial potting loams. Best sited in full sun, but this plant seems to adapt to some part shade. It needs bright light for flowering. Tolerant of drought and dry indoor air. Water very moderately in spring, summer and fall, but reduce watering to the minimum in winter. Tolerates 50F to 60F degree nights in summer with a minimum of 40F degrees in winter. Plants taken outside for summer should be protected from rain, and should be brought indoors in early fall before night temperatures begin to dip below 50F degrees. Easily propagated from offsets that appear near the base of mature plants.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Medicinal aloe is a stoloniferous, stemless, tropical perennial that grows upright with stiff rosettes of succulent leaves. Common name is in reference to the folk medicine history of this plant which goes back to the pre-Christian era. Lance-shaped green leaves (to 18” long) are spotted white and armed with whitish marginal teeth. Leaves mature to gray-green. Plants may grow to as much as 3’ tall. Flowering occurs only on mature plants, typically in summer. On container plants, flowering will only occur on plants grown in optimum conditions (e.g., sunny windows or sunny outdoor locations). Yellow flowers in racemes bloom atop erect stalks rising to as much as 3’ tall. Medicinal aloe is noted for the healing and cosmetic properties attributed to its sap. The sap is added to a large number of commercial cosmetics, particularly lotions and creams. Sap is noted for its ability to moisten dry skin. Sap from a broken leaf may be applied directly to burns on the skin for relief. Sap should not be eaten, but has been used in the past for treating peptic ulcers. The sap also reportedly has strong laxative properties. Medicinal aloe is also commonly called burn plant or burn aloe. Synonymous with and formerly known as Aloe barbadensis.

Problems

Watch for mealy bugs and scale. Avoid overwatering.

Garden Uses

Houseplant for dry, sunny areas.