By Ankaret Dean, Lanark County Master Gardeners
ln my opinion every household should have an Aloe Vera plant in the kitchen window, it is probably the easiest house plant to grow, and provides you immediately with an instant soothing remedy for a burn.
It is a semi-tropical plant, and is happy to live outside during the summer. However the leaves contain 95% water, so it is very susceptible to frost.
Indoors it is happy in a window, but do not over water.
This is because it is a succulent and retains a lot of water in the leaves and roots, and it also goes partly dormant in the winter. So only lightly water when the soil is very dry.
The real magic of growing an aloe plant is in the use of the gel within the leaves. The medicinal properties have been known and recorded since biblical times.
It has been used for a variety of ailments such as burns, cuts, as well as rashes and itchy poison ivy and insect stings.
The sap of the Aloe is a thick mucilaginous gel, which is used medicinally. The outer skin of the leaf has no use, and has to be cut open to expose the gel. This can be done by breaking off one of the lower leaves and squeezing out the gel, or slicing open the leaf.
The plant has shallow roots, and a small piece can easily be removed to start a new plant. They prefer a sandy soil, but are probably one of the most undemanding of house plants.
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