The Men’s Garden Club of Jacksonville is putting its green thumb to work for the good of patients having radiation treatment for cancer. Several aloe vera plants are nestled in the tropical garden located in the main lobby below the staircase for patients to take home with them. Check with your medical team to see if this natural balm is right for you. Then help yourself to an aloe plant.
The sap of the aloe plant is easy to use. Simply snap off a leaf and squeeze to extract the gel-like fluid onto the affected skin. The most common benefit is a cooling or soothing sensation that eases discomfort from minor burns.
Here are some tips for tending your aloe plant:
Unless you live in an area with a very mild climate, it's best to leave your aloe plant in the pot and place it near a window that gets a lot of sun. Aloe vera is a succulent, and as such, stores a large quantity of water within its leaves and root system.
During the winter months, the plant will become somewhat dormant, and utilize very little moisture. During this period watering should be minimal. Allow the soil to become completely dry before giving the plant a cup or two of water, just enough to moisten the soil.
During the summer months, the soil should be completely soaked, but then be allowed to dry again before re-watering. Aloes have a shallow, spreading root system so when it is time to repot choose a wide planter, rather than a deep one. Use a planter with a drainage hole, or provide a 1-2 inch layer of gravel in the bottom of the pot to ensure adequate drainage. Use a good commercial potting mix with extra perlite, granite grit, or coarse sand added. You may also use a packaged 'cacti mix' soil.
Aloe vera plants are propagated by removing the offsets which are produced around the base of mature plants, when they are a couple inches tall (or larger).
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