The Plant That Heals

From minor scrapes and sores, to bug bites and burns, the healing medicinal properties of the aloe vera plant have been known to cure a wide range of common ailments since biblical times.

The thick, fleshy gelatinous gel, found within the stems of the aloe vera, offers a multitude of natural healing properties.

The aloe vera plant, commonly called “the medicinal healing plant”, originated in North Africa and is now widely cultivated around the world. Many people enjoy growing the sub-tropical aloe vera plant in their homes.

Aloe veras are exotic-looking green succulent plants with thick, short, spiky, fleshy branches. Growing as large as 60 to 100 centimetres in size in the summer months, they will produce prolific yellowish-orange tuberous flowers on long spikes up to 90 centimetres in height.

When growing an aloe vera plant, select an area of your home that receives direct sunlight. Aloes prefer to be potted in porous clay planters. To allow for good drainage, use a potting soil designed for cacti and succulent plants and that has a high concentration of sand and perilite.

Even small stones or granite grit can be added to the mix. Aloes love to spend the summer months outdoors. Should the stems of the plant start to turn a greyish-brown, it is a sign of too much sun. Move the plant to a more-indirect sunlit location.

Aloe veras become dormant in the winter months requiring very little, if any, watering.

When aloes are ready to be transplanted, they produce small shoots called “pups” from the main plant. When these shoots become 8 to 12 centimetres in height, remove them from the mother plant and place into a succulent potting mix.

Avoid watering this new plant for three weeks to allow for a root system to actively grow in search of moisture. It is good practice to always water cacti and succulent plants from the base of the planter.

When harvesting an aloe vera leaf, choose a mature leaf at the base of the aloe vera plant. These stems are the most potent.

Use a clean, sharp knife to remove the stem from the plant. Slice the stem lengthways and secrete the gelatinous substance onto the afflicted area. Apply generously as aloe is quickly absorbed into the skin. Don’t worry about leaving the exposed stem on the plant. Though it won’t re-grow a new stem, it will naturally heal itself.

If you are considering a new plant for your home, try growing an aloe vera. Widely used to treat the most-common ailments such as scrapes, burns and sores, aloe vera gel is also commonly used for its natural soothing properties in cosmetics and moisturizers.

This summer, experiment with the natural healing properties found in the aloe vera. This is one plant everyone should have.

Shari Morash is a gardening enthusiast and an accredited designer. Contact her at [email protected]

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