is an herbaceous perennial in the family Liliaceae grown for its succulent leaves which have a variety of culinary and medicinal uses. The Aloe vera
plant has a short, stout stem and a rosette of fleshy, lanceolate leaves which have a serrated margin of small white teeth. The leaves may be flecked with white and are pale green or gray-green in color. Aloe vera
plants produce a conspicuous inflorescence composed of densely packed pendulous yellow flowers on a spike which can be up to 90 cm (35 in) in height. The plant itself can grow to be 1 m (3 ft) in height and can live for up to 100 years if well cared for. Aloe vera
may also be called Aloe barbadensis
or Aloe perfoliata
and is indigenous to eastern and southern Africa.
Aloe vera plant
Aloe plants producing suckers
Aloe plant from above
Aloe vera flower spike
Cut leaves showing Aloe pulp
plants are grown for the extraction of the gel inside the leaves. The gel is used in desserts, yogurts and beverages. The gel is also commonly used as a home remedy for treatment of burns.
Aloe vera gel being used in the preparation of a dessert
can be grown in a wide range of soils providing that they are well-draining. Aloe is commonly found growing in very nutrient poor soil in their natural range. Aloes are very drought tolerant but they will not tolerate frosts due to their succulent leaves. Aloe vera plants do well in pots and can be kept indoors if positioned in a bright, sunny spot. Plants grown in pots should be planted in a well-draining potting medium such as those used for cacti.
can be grown from seed, but is most easily propagated from suckers which are readily produced by the mother plant. The suckers are commonly referred to as “pups”. The pups should be cut from the main root by gently uprooting the mother plant and finding the point of attachment. The young plant should be cut from the parent using a sharp knife. Pups can be safely removed when they have several sets of leaves. The young plants should be planted in their own pot and watered deeply. Refrain from overwatering to force the growth of new roots. If multiple plants are being planted, provide them with individual pots or plant at least 60 cm (24 in) apart outdoors.
General care and maintenance
Aloe plant are generally very easy to care for but care should be taken to avoid overwatering. The plants should be watered deeply but allowed to dry out before the next watering. Check the soil prior to watering. Allow the soil to dry down to a depth of 7.5 to 10 cm (3-4 in) for older, well-established plants or 3.5-5 cm (1-2 in) for younger plants. In addition, although Aloe plants require lots of lights, sitting them in full sun can be harmful and it is best to position potted Aloes in a bright window. If the plant is receiving too much sun, the leaves will begin to turn brown.
Fertilizer being prepared for cultivation of Aloe plants in Kenya
Aloe farm in Chhattisgarh, India
Das, N & Chattopadhay, R. N. (2004). Commercial Cultivation of Aloe. Natural Product Radiance. Volume 3. Issue 2. Available at: http://nopr.niscair.res.in/bitstream/123456789/9406/1/NPR%203(2)%2085-87.pdf. [Accessed 05 November 14]. Free to access
Oudhia, P. (2001). Ghrita kumari or Guar patha. Purdue University Center for New Crops and Plant Products. Available at: http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/CropFactSheets/aloe.html. [Accessed 05 November 14]. Free to access
UC Davis Botanical Conservatory (2009). The Genus Aloe. Botanical Notes. Issue 1. Volume 1. Available at: http://greenhouse.ucdavis.edu/files/botnot_01-01.00.pdf. [Accessed 05 November 14] Free to access
Common Pests and Diseases
Category : Fungal
Small, pale yellow spots on leaves which expand and turn brown; orange spore masses may be present on underside of leaf; leaves may drop from plant.
Disease is self limiting and requires no treatment.
The initial appearance of small round to oval, dark green water-soaked which later become circular spots with tan to light brown center. As the spots mature the center of the lesion become reddish brown to brown color. With progress in disease the lesions join together to form big necrotic area.
Application of suitable fungicides.
Basal stem rot
Base of plant turning reddish brown to black and rotting.
Pieces of plant may be saved by taking cuttings above rotted portion.
Category : Bacterial
Bacterial soft rot
Watery, rotting leaves which are darker in color; young leaves wilting and collapsing; leaves bulging due to gas formation inside.
Fatal disease; avoid over-watering plants.