Considering it's part of the succulent family, aloe vera is hardy and drought-proof so it doesn’t require as much attention as other house plants. This low-maintenance shrub can be grown indoors and out, and will reach up to half a metre in height if grown in ideal conditions.
Whether you want to use it for sunburn, acne, rosacea or insect bites, aloe vera is a cute and helpful plant to have handy. Here’s everything you need to know.
How to grow aloe vera
Aloe vera can be planted at any time of the year and will survive nearly all conditions, though it will thrive in a tropical environment. Once planted, be sure to water it in well to settle the soil. For the best results, be careful with the centre growing point as aloe vera grows from the middle out.
Prefers sub-tropical and tropical regions, but will grow in cold temperate, warm temperate and arid/semi-arid conditions, provided there are no frosts.
Requires a soil with excellent drainage.
Sunny. Plant in full sun outdoors and if indoors, position where there is lots of light.
Occasional feed with a balanced, controlled-release fertiliser. Once a year is suitable, but be sure to feed just before the main growing season.
Minimal watering is required, as it's adapted to dry climates. If you live in a wet area, consider growing your aloe vera in a raised garden bed and add some gravel to improve drainage.
Growing in a pot
Aloe vera can be grown in a pot or container. Use a cacti or succulent potting mix to ensure good drainage and keep it in a bright part of the house.
How to grow from cuttings
The simplest way to propagate aloe vera is from the small plants that form at its base, these are known as 'pups'. Break the pups from the main plant and pot it in a container of cacti and succulent potting mix, or in a well-drained sunny spot in the garden.
How to keep aloe vera pest-free
Luckily, aloe vera has very few problems but it's prone to the odd insect attack. Small sap-sucking insects such as scale and aphids are the main culprits, so keep your eyes out for them. If you spot any, control with a garden insecticide.
Benefits of aloe vera on skin
Aloe vera has soothing and cooling properties and is commonly used to treat minor skin care concerns. Considering it is so moisturising, many people use it as a treatment for dry skin.
It is also said to be a good treatment for acne as aloe vera is less irritating to the skin compared to traditional treatments. A small study in 2014 found that a cream that combined acne medication with aloe vera gel was significantly more effective than acne treatments on their own.
It may be best to avoid using aloe vera on more severe issues and check first with a doctor if you are ever unsure.