Aloe vera is probably one of the best-known houseplants. The gel inside its leaves is famously used for soothing burns, but it’s more than just a green first aid kit. This is a plant that has adapted to live all over the world.
A wild aloe vera could grow as big as a metre across. If you think that’s impressive, its flower spike can reach 90cm. UK growers will probably never see an aloe vera flower, but they’re beautiful. They look a bit like the flower known as red hot poker.
Though it’s native to the Arabian Peninsula, aloe vera now grows wild in North Africa, Spain, Mexico, China, Australia and southern parts of the USA. It doesn’t often grow outside in the UK, because it really doesn’t like frost, but it’s incredibly easy to grow indoors. Make sure it gets a lot of light and not too much water. In spring and summer, it will benefit from a feed with liquid fertiliser (make sure to use fertliser made specifically for succulents and cacti).
Did you know?
There are records of aloe vera being used for its medicinal properties since the 16th century BC.