They can be found in clay pots on porches, in cheery windowsill boxes and winding their way through cactus gardens. True aloe plants (Aloe vera, USDA zones 10-12) are easy to grow and are useful to have on hand for a number of medicinal reasons. The aloe vera flowers that appear on this species, as well as some of the other 500 species in this genus, aren't often seen in typical indoor environments because they're produced only on mature plants.
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Aloe vera stems and flowers have quite a few health benefits. The gel that oozes from the stems when they are snapped open is known to be a natural antibacterial substance. It also is a natural assist for a number of medical ailments.
Aloe Plant Basics
This North Africa native is a tiny powerhouse with plenty of purposes for health and wellness. Growing aloe vera in and around your home is simple and highly beneficial for a number of reasons. The aloe vera plant flowers at certain times of the year and may need coaxing if it is grown indoors.
This prickly succulent is a prolific plant, thriving in the driest of desert conditions and sprouting spiky and bright-yellow flowers. The blooms tend to emergeon mature plants in early spring and can last through the summer.
Aloe begins as a tight rosette and grows to a spiky succulent with branches that can stretch and twist toward the much-needed sunlight for which it thirsts. When the thick leaf of the aloe is cut from the base, it heals quickly and begins to grow new shoots immediately.
Aloe Vera Bloom
Young aloe vera plants aren't prepared to bloom. Once the rosette of a young aloe vera plant begins to turn into fat stems that stretch out from the center of the plant, it will be ready to bloom. The plant typically needs to be about four years old before it will begin to grow slender stems that will turn into colorful, thick petals in a cone-like shape.
If you are set on seeing lush blossoms from your aloe vera plant, there are a few things you can do to initiate bloom beginnings. A high-bloom fertilizer can be used sparingly with the plant's regular watering schedule if you prefer to try to get the aloe to bloom indoors. Plant aloe in a sunny spot to get the best blooms.
In or Out?
Place the plant outside if you want big, bright blooms. An aloe vera plant grown indoors will have a much harder time finding the adequate amount of sunlight, wind and bee activity to pollinate its spiky stems.
The fleshy stems of the plant can get scorched when temperatures rise over 110 degrees, so be careful with plants in black pots in full sun in desert climates.
Medicinal Qualities of Aloe Vera Plants
The stubby and sturdy aloe vera plant is made up of 99 percent water. Its remaining 1 percent is brimming with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, skin-enhancing enzymes for repair and wrinkle reduction, amino acids, minerals, vitamins and nutrients. The gel from the thick shoots, used alone or mixed with other ingredients, can:
- Be used in a toothpaste as a cavity fighter
- Relieve pain from ulcers
- Reduce depression and improve memory
- Reduce scarring from second-degree burns that can occur around the house
- Gently alleviate constipation
- Alleviate itching and reduce inflammation in mosquito, spider and other insect bites
Transplanting Aloe Vera Plants
These hardy plants are easy to transplant. They can be transported to other pots with a lengthy time spent out of a pot.
The spiky yet thick petaled flowers that shoot up from the base of the aloe vera plant will only grow on mature and well-rested plants. Once you transplant an aloe vera, the flowers may take a year or two to arrive. Coax them with plenty of sunshine and maybe some appropriate bloom fertilizer if the aloe vera flowers are slow to show.
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at www.vegaswriter.com.