Houseplants for Sustainability: Aloe Vera

I’m trying to build up a great collection of houseplants again — not just to improve the indoor air quality (to clean up some of those chemicals being released from your carpet, furniture, etc.) — but also to cultivate some natural medicinals.  Aloe vera was ubiquitous back home in Southern California, but I don’t see it so much here in the Southeast.  Being a succulent, it’s well-suited to deserty climates, but I’ve had better luck keeping it as a houseplant here in Georgia. 

 

I thought I killed one that I bought at a farmers’ market, but I brought it indoors and it came back to life.  I meant to throw the brown, brittle skeleton in with the compost, but after moving the plant indoors (without even watering it!), it magically came back to life.  This was a couple weeks ago, and it perked up enough that I could propagate some daughter plants.  Mom and kids seem to be doing well!  Here is a picture from my messy formal dining room/play room/all-purpose junk-leaving site:

 

 

And back to its medicinal properties…

 

When I was growing up in Arizona and California, my family always kept several aloe plants.  If any of us got a burn or scrape, we just cut off a leaf and applied the jelly inside the leaf to the wound.  I’ve heard it has antibacterial properties, but I don’t know if there is any evidence to support this.  It works great for sunburns, too — and it’s much more fun to keep a beautiful aloe vera plant around than another plastic container of something that will end up in a landfill, languishing away for millions of years.  Think of it as precyclying — the only waste you’ll create is the spent leaf, which you can just compost anyway.  Very frugal!

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