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!