THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED ON JOYBILEE FARM.

Everyone needs an aloe vera plant on the kitchen window, close to the stove. Aloe is renowned for its ability to cool and heal a burn. And for that reason alone, you should keep one as a plant ally. But did you know that aloe has other uses as well?

Winter frost, zones 9 to 11, aloe may be grown directly in the ground. Provide the plant with partial shade and well drained, somewhat fertile soil. Allow three feet between plants, to allow them room to spread.

Avoid overwatering. Aloe will flower if given enough room to grow, with adequate light and fertility. Here in Canada we miss this miracle.

If you live in zones 8 or below, growing aloe in a container is easy, provided that you don’t overwater it. Aloe is a succulent and likes to be in a warm, sunny spot. If you grow it in a container, you can put it outside in partial sun during the summer. Bring it indoors if the temperature will dip below 50°F.  Protect it from too much rain if you live on the wet coast.

Aloe will also fair well grown indoors. If you have a sunny window you don’t need supplemental light in winter. When planting aloe in a pot, add some rocks in the bottom for drainage, so the roots won’t sit in water. Allow the soil surface to dry completely between watering. Then give the plant a good soaking.

Many people think they can’t grow aloe vera because they don’t understand the different needs that succulents have. The leaves of aloe vera are 99% water, so the plant can withstand drought conditions. Too much water, on the other hand, will rot the roots. If you have an aloe plant that is suffering from overwatering, you may be able to bring it back through neglect.

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