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Aloe is the August Houseplant of the Month
Aloe vera is a succulent from the Asphodel family and has been growing on the Arabian Peninsula for millions of years. The name derives from the Arabic word ‘Alloeh’, which means ‘shiny bitter fluid’. This refers to the cooling, gel-like liquid in the leaves. ‘Vera’ effectively means ‘the real thing’. There are some 300 species. As a desert plant, Aloe must survive in an extreme climate, which is why it produces more than 75 substances to help it cope. For example, if a leaf is damaged the ‘wound’ will immediately be sealed with coagulating sap in order to retain as much moisture as possible, just as with humans. The active ingredients in Aloe have also been found to have healing properties for humans. The ancient Egyptians called it ‘the immortality plant’. The first description in European documents dates from 1655. Nowadays Aloe also occurs in countries around the Mediterranean, Indonesia, Mexico and the Caribbean.
Choice of range
The Aloe range is constantly expanding thanks to the continuing trend for decorative succulent plants such as cacti and other succulents with decorative leaves like Agave, Echeveria, Crassula, Haworthia and Senecio. Aloe vera is by far the best-known member of the Aloe range. Serrated green-blue leaves form the basis for the rosette in which the plant grows. There is also Aloe arborescens, which means ‘tree-like’. This plant has a coarser structure and slightly curling leaves. Aloe humilis (which means ‘staying close to the ground’) is a compact rosette with leaves edged with white ‘teeth’. Other Aloe species are A. aristata ‘Cosmo’ (green), A. squarrosa (star-shaped rosettes) and A. ‘Pink Blush’ (pinkish markings on the leaf rosette).
Sales and display tips for Aloe
Because Aloe has a fairly strong look in its own right, the plant is best displayed in a container that emphasises that: robust ceramics, worked wood, plastic with a sturdy structure. A slightly wide pot makes it easier to water. Aloe combines well with other succulents in bowls and boxes, and sells well as one of the most attractive easy plants around, particularly combined with its air-purifying characteristics. Ideal for offices, student rooms and plant lovers who lack green fingers.
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