In our quest of getting geared up and growing plants at home, today, we will look at a plant that is medicinal, has cosmetic benefits and is also a natural pest repellent by nature. No wonder then that it bears the name “Wonder plant” The ALOE VERA!
Aloe vera has multiple uses and benefits due to which it is also referred to as “plant of immortality,” Its very name in Kannada resonates its properties. Its called as Lolisara (meaning gel in Kannada). It is derived from an Arabic word, “Alloeh” means shinning bitter and “Vera” means true. It is a green, cactus looking like a plant.
Anatomy of Aloe Vera Leaves
Aloe Vera leaves are made up of three layers.
- A thick outer layer which provides protection to inner layers and is responsible for photosynthesis.
- A middle layer of latex which is a bitter yellow sap.
- An inner layer of clear gel. This gel contains 99% water and rest of it is made up of vitamins, lipids, sterols, amino acids, and glucomannans.
Aloe Vera is a no-fuss plant. Hence perfect for growing indoors or outdoors. That is one of the main reasons that these are found in plenty in low rainfall areas, rockeries & low water use gardens. To grow an Aloe vera plant, it is essential that you use offshoots. Plant these offshoots, and the chances of the plant growing well are very high.
- Climate: usually grown in hot & dry condition.
- Soil: all types of soil light, black.
- Spacing: 60 × 45 cm
- Watering: it is a succulent plant, so doesn’t require much water.
- Harvesting: leaves are harvested in 10-12 months.
Very important to note: while Repotting: remove new shoots when they are 3-4 inches, & replant it in other pot. Otherwise, mother plant will spread its leaves horizontally rather than vertically.
- Aloe Vera contains around 75 active constituents like vitamins, minerals, enzymes, sugars, and amino acids.
- It can be used in the culinary purpose as a flavoring agent.
- It reduces the tooth pain through anti-inflammatory effects.
- Aloe vera gel provides protection from UV radiation.
- It’s gel, which is a bitter one, is known for healing properties.
- Its gel offers vital nutrition for the human skin as it has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties.
- It can also be used in the treatment of wounds, dry skin, minor cuts, & severe burns.
- Drinking aloe vera juice in the early morning cures stomach trouble & improves digestion.
- It is a natural air purifier.
- It is a natural insecticide, which is biodegradable, and also a source of salicylic acid. Hence it is a natural fungicide, insecticide (termite repellent), acaricide & biofertilizer.
Pests that attack the Aloe Vera plant:
Aloe vera aphid: Aloephagus Myersi
- In the damaged leaves both nymphs and adults feed at the rolled ends or in the base of the leaves.
- They secrete honeydew that results in sooty mould
- If there is a severe infestation, it leads to stunting and slow growth.
To manage pests in Aloe Vera:
- Best way to manage pest is to harbor the growth of natural enemies like ladybird beetle and wasps.
- Application of insecticidal soap on the leaves also helps eliminate the pest infection.
Aloe Vera is just the kind of plant needed for those who are short on space, time, effort and water. A perfect example of maximum gain with minimum inputs! So don’t wait. Get started!
And do let us know how the entire journey was…
Preethi completed her B. Sc. from College of Horticulture, Mysore and M. Sc. from College of Horticulture, Bengaluru. She is an avid gardener with expertise across soil based and soilless gardening techniques using substrates.