The history of the medicinal plant aloe vera
The original home of the medicinal plant Aloe Vera is on the Arabian Peninsula. In the meantime, however, it is native to all continents and is cultivated there as an ornamental and medicinal plant.
The word aloe comes from Arabic and means "bitter". Vera, on the other hand, comes from Latin and means "true". In German-speaking countries, aloe vera is also sometimes called real aloe or desert lily. However, the botanically correct term is Aloe vera Linné, since the Swedish botanist Carl von Linné is credited with discovering this plant.
Characteristics of Aloe Vera
With its thick, fleshy and pointed leaves, aloe vera is considered a medicinal plant, since aloe vera gel has healing effects on a wide variety of diseases. Like cacti, it can store water in its leaves and live on it for a long time. The leaves can be around 50 centimeters long and even reach a width of around seven centimeters in well-growing plants. Their color can vary from dark green to grey-green with reddish hues.
The special thing about the leaves is that they have three different layers:
The top layer is gray-green and is called the waxy leaf bark. It protects the plant from evaporation and heat.
Between the leaf bark and the pith is a slightly poisonous, yellow and bitter-tasting fiber layer that is inedible. It should always be removed when consuming aloe vera, as it can lead to diarrhea and stomach pain.
The inside of the leaf is the water reservoir and can be prepared in different ways. The thick leaves have tiny spines on the outside, while the upper surface of the leaf is smooth.
The different types of aloe vera
The aloe genus has around 250 species and many are said to have healing properties. Depending on the species, they also differ significantly in their external appearance. The types we use most often are listed here:
- Aloe arborescens
- Aloe aristata
- Aloe Vera (Aloe barbardensis)
- Aloe brevifolia
- Aloe ferox
- Aloe variegata
How do you properly care for an aloe vera plant?
As with all (room) plants, it is also important for aloe vera care that it is optimal. Because only then can it develop fully and have healthy growth. We now want to show you what you should consider when caring for aloe vera.
Aloe Vera location
Because of its origin, aloe vera likes very warm locations with lots of sunlight. As a houseplant you should place it in a bright and sunny south-facing window if possible. If you're one of the lucky ones and have a conservatory, then it's best to look for a suitable place for them there.
Caution: The aloe vera should not be exposed to strong sunlight. This can cause their leaves to turn brown and dry out.
Tip: In the winter months you should make sure that the temperature at the location does not fall below 15 °C. By nature, aloe vera does not deal well with cool temperatures and in the worst case it dies.
Aloe vera soil
The right substrate is also very important for your aloe vera care. It belongs to the succulents, the water-storing plants, and prefers mineral, nutrient-rich but humus-poor soil.If you add a little bit of sand to the mixture, this is ideal for the plant, since the excess water can run off easily and there is no waterlogging
Tip: Always make sure that the soil is not too wet. This can quickly lead to rot damage.
Water the aloe vera
It is best to water your aloe vera either in the morning or in the evening, optionally with low-lime water. Twice a week is sufficient. Even less in winter, as it doesn't evaporate as much water here.
It is important that you always water the plant from below, i.e. that only water should come onto the soil and not onto the leaves of the aloe vera.
If waterlogging should accumulate in the saucer, please simply pour it off. You can find more tips on watering aloe vera plants in our article "How often you should water your aloe vera".
Fertilize aloe vera
In terms of care, aloe vera is fairly undemanding. That’s why you only need to fertilize her every two to four weeks during the growing season. It is best to use a cactus fertilizer here. Fertilizing is not necessary during the winter months.
Cut aloe vera
By cutting you can influence the shape and growth of the plant. If side shoots develop on the mother plant then you can use them for propagation. Just carefully cut off with a sharp knife and repot.
If you regularly cut off the outer leaves of the aloe vera, you are helping to rejuvenate it. So if these leaves die off, you can remove them and possibly even use the gel they contain.
Propagating aloe vera
You can also propagate aloe vera in just a few steps. With two different methods. Once you have the leaf cuttings and side shoots, you can easily start your own aloe vera family from the comfort of your own home.
With both variants you have to carefully cut off either the whole offshoot or just a leaf from the mother plant with a sharp knife and let the cut dry before you plant it in a suitable pot. You can find detailed instructions in our article "Propagating aloe vera".
Is aloe vera poisonous?
Aloe vera is basically a medicinal plant, i.e. it definitely has healing properties. Unfortunately, not all plant components are suitable for use.
The bitter fibrous layer between the leaf bark and pith contains an inedible (poisonous) substance that can cause intestinal and stomach problems when eaten. In humans/children but also in dogs, cats and birds.