Fat plants

Aloe - Aloe arborescens

Generalities Aloe arborescens

The aloe genus has some hundreds of species of succulent plants, widespread in nature in Africa, in the Mediterranean basin and in most of the Middle Eastern areas; they are very similar aesthetically to agaves, which in nature develop only in the American continent. All the aloe species produce thick rosettes of leaves, more or less triangular, more or less fleshy, often pointed only at the apex, sometimes with thorns also along the lower page; in spring and summer, from the center of the rosette, a thin, robust stem rises, reaching a meter in height, or even more, and bearing a long inflorescence, made up of tubular flowers, red, orange or yellow. The best known aloe is aloe vera, also well known for its therapeutic properties, and very widespread, along with a few other species, even on the Italian coasts, where it now also develops in the wild.
Contrary to what happens for agaves, aloes bloom every year, while agaves bloom only at the end of their life, which can last up to some tens of years.

Aloe with very thick and compact rosettes, with triangular foliage, without thorns, and characterized by a light color, with dark zoning, with an almost brindle appearance. Plant of fairly small dimensions if cultivated in pot, the leaves tend to fold along the median line, giving rise to decidedly very compact rosettes, which sometimes clump, forming small colonies. From the center of the rosette, in spring a short and thin stem rises, which bears orange, very decorative inflorescences. Among the many aloes available in the nursery is the one that tends to be more delicate, not loving the cultivation in the apartment and fearing the cold a lot; development is very slow, and it is often not possible to see flowers for several years.Grow aloe

Aloe is a plant of easy cultivation, we could almost say that its cultivation requirements are comparable to those of Mediterranean plants: well-lit places, with a few hours of direct sunlight a day, little water and only when the soil is dry and very well drained. In most of Italy aloe is a delicate plant, which cannot survive in the garden all year long; in fact we can cultivate it without problems in pots, from March-April, until October-November, and keep them in a cold greenhouse or at home for the remaining months of the year. Unfortunately, at home the brightness is always too low and the climate has an excessively hot and dry air, which makes it impossible for the plant to have its proper winter vegetative rest period. For this reason, generally the aloe plants grown in apartments tend not to bloom, except in very specific cases.
If grown in pots, it is good to supply them with a container that is only a few centimeters higher than the largest rosette diameter, which can mean a small 15 cm pot for a variegated aloe, and a 50 cm pot for a medium growth aloe arborescens. We use a rich and very well drained soil, prepared by lightening the universal soil with sand or pumice stone, so that the water does not stagnate in any way. Watering, during the winter period, is provided only sporadically, instead from March to September they are supplied weekly, or even more frequently when the climate is very hot and dry. Before watering, we will always take care to check that the soil has had the opportunity to dry completely. The repottings are practiced every 2-3 years, in autumn, slightly increasing the size of the pot. For plants grown outdoors, it may be necessary to provide cover during particularly cold winters; this is also because very intense frosts can literally burn the foliage of the aloe, causing the need for unsightly pruning of most rosettes.

Propagate the aloe

Aloe si, propagates by seed; the small dark hemi are easy to find, and should be placed on a cool and damp ground, already previously watered; the pot in which the seeds are placed is kept in a warm and humid place, until all the seeds are germinated. The seedlings can be repotted individually only when they have reached a few centimeters in height. If we also live in an area with a mild winter climate, we recommend growing small aloes in a sheltered place during the winter, at least for the first two years of life.
Aloes can also be propagated by vegetative means, removing the basal shoots that are sometimes produced by healthy plants. These shoots are removed at the end of winter, and are planted in fresh and very well drained soil.

Pests and diseases

As with many succulents, aloes are also often attacked by cochineal, especially in the case of very dry weather and poor ventilation; It is advisable to kill insects with white oil, mixed with pyrethrum, taking care to vaporize the solution well even below the leaves, and at the base at the base of the rosette, where scale insects tend to nest.
If the waterings are excessive, and the soil is often kept humid, the aloes quickly tend to deteriorate, due to radical rot, which can kill plants even in short periods of time.
Specimens grown in the apartment for a long time, can show showy reddish burns on the leaves at the first exposure to the sun, as the leaves are not used to the large amount of light; when we move an aloe outdoors, let's do it gradually.

Aloe, the plant of health

Aloe has been used for millennia by man for its healing properties; surely the most used part has always been the mucilage of which the leaves are made: this part has a strong refreshing, antioxidant, moisturizing and anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial power; in ancient times the aloe leaves were applied, after being broken, on wounds, burns, burns. These virtues of aloe mucilage have been recognized by many scientific studies, and today with aloe many medicinal and cosmetic products are produced, which exploit their emollient properties. The sap contained in the film that surrounds the leaves has detoxifying properties, and in ancient times with aloe, decoctions and herbal teas were prepared, also for internal use. Well known by all, it is the home remedy based on aloe, honey and alcohol, which has a strong purifying power on the body. With aloe, however, ointments, creams and detergents are also prepared, which take advantage of the soothing and calming power of the pulp and the rind of aloe.