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Aloe vera

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Latin Name: Aloe vera

Synonyms: Aloe barbadensis

Common Name: Aloe Vera, Barbados Aloe

Chinese Name: Lu Hui

Sanskrit Name: Ghrita-kumari, Kumari, Kanya

Cool Facts: This is probably second on the list to grow for Preppers, after Andrographis. Topically, it is wonderful for all kinds of skin things, burns, scrapes, itchy rashes. Internally it helps with a lot of gut issues. Second on the list.

Family: Aloaceae

Taste: Bitter

Parts Used: Leaves

Habitat: Widely naturalized in may tropical and subtropical climates.

Type: Perennial.

Size: 2-3' tall and wide; the flower stalks are taller

Spacing for Production: 18-24"

Site and Zone: Z9, Z10, Z11. I always thought of this plant as a desert-dweller, but it's really not. In East Texas it does best somewhat protected from the scorching sun and definitely protected from freezing temperatures. The inside of an unheated greenhouse has been the best site (just don't forget to water it about once per week in the summer and once every month or so in the winter).

Soil: It does fine in a wide range of soils except soggy ones where it rots. Well-drained-soil, rocky-soil, dry-soil, poor-soil, drought-tolerant, partial-shade or full-sun.

Will it Grow in Texas?: Yes, with protection from freezing. Does really well on the floor in the greenhouse somewhere.

Propagation: Split off the daughter plants from the base and plant them with enough room to develop a whole new plant. Even a leaf will sometimes root. Seeds work too.

Bugs & Problems: It melts like the Wicked Witch of the West when it freezes. So sad....

Bloom time: Summer. Hummingbirds like the long tubular blooms.

Landscaping: Plant it in a pot and take indoors during a freeze. Aloes tolerate indoor conditions with adequate light at least for a while.

Collection: Cut off a section of a leaf, cut off the spines on both sides, then cut in half and rub the sticky side all over anything that hurts. Put the other half in a small, sealed container in the refrigerator to use in a few hours. The cool leaf feels particularly good on a burn or road rash. For internal use, cut the top and bottom skin off and put the sticky middle into the blender, mix with any liquid and blend. Nice stomach remedy. A fresh leaf is best. What they sell at the store in a bottle just doesn't compare to the real deal.

Storage: Can be frozen but it really is best used fresh.

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