The story of Aloe
Very tough, strong shapes and easy to live with: Aloe, with the most commonly known variety, Aloe Vera, has thick blue-green leaves which reach a length of 40-50 cm and grow up in spikes from a rosette up to a maximum of 100 cm. The leaves are greyish green and have serrated edges. Aloe is an exceptionally resilient plant which stores moisture and nutrients in the leaves in order to get through dry periods. The plant blooms in the summer, and helps keep the air in your home clean.
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’. There are some 300 species. 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.
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.
- It’s important to know whether the plant is being purchased as a foliage plant or as a flowering plant. For a flowering plant, you should also look at the stage of flowering.
- 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 at the point of sale, this will detract from the quality. The plants can then start to stretch, or the colour can fade.
- The recommended storage and shipping temperature is 12°C.
Choice of range
The Aloe range is constantly expanding thanks to the continuing trend for decorative succulent plants such as cacti and other succulents with decorative leaves like Agave, Echeveria, Crassula, Haworthia and Senecio. Aloe vera is by far the best-known member of the Aloe range. Serrated green-blue leaves form the basis for the rosette in which the plant grows. There is also Aloe arborescens, which means ‘tree-like’. This plant has a coarser structure and slightly curling leaves. Aloe humilis (which means ‘staying close to the ground’) is a compact rosette with leaves edged with white ‘teeth’. Other Aloe species are A. aristata ‘Cosmo’ (green), A. squarrosa (star-shaped rosettes) and A. ‘Pink Blush’ (pinkish markings on the leaf rosette).
Care tips for consumers
- 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.
Sales and display tips for Aloe
Because Aloe has a fairly strong look in its own right, the plant is best displayed in a container that emphasises that: robust ceramics, worked wood, plastic with a sturdy structure. A slightly wide pot makes it easier to water. Aloe combines well with other succulents in bowls and boxes, and sells well as one of the most attractive easy plants around, particularly combined with its air-purifying characteristics. Ideal for offices, student rooms and plant lovers who lack green fingers.
Images of Aloe
You can download and use the images below free of charge crediting Thejoyofplants.co.uk.
You can download the posters using the link below.