How can I keep an Aloe Vera alive?

ginjjFebruary 10, 2012

I want to use Aloe Vera on my skin every day to help control my dry skin from psoriasis.

I have a hard time keeping Aloe Vera plants alive.

I have only had them in containers, maybe I need to find a place in the ground.

I don't understand how several people I've talked with grow them easily and I can't. I don't have this problem with all the other things in my garden - and I've got a large variety of plants.

Thanks for your help.


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When you say other plants in the garden, do you mean an outside garden ?

Maybe consider: Container size that aloe is trying to grow in. The soil in the container.

Another idea that comes to me is the speed of growth for aloe is slow that is trying to recover and then again grow or to say cant use it and have it too.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 11:14AM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

If you have a hard time keeping them alive, & want it for cosmetic reasons, you might as well just go by the 99% pure Aloe gel in the Health food stores.

It's fastest, safest & your Aloe MAY or may mot be Aloe vera & the real thing.

Read around here on Aloe care, the soil needs to be fast draining, best sunlight possible, etc. Often times folks fail w/ Aloes either from too rich, composty type soil or too much water.

Personally, I wouldn't put unknown Aloe onto my skin, especially if I already had a skin problem.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 1:42PM
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Thanks for your replies -

I have a garden full of roses, clematis, fruit trees, annuals perennials etc. I care for them myself. I propagate plants etc. I've been a passionate outside gardener for years.

I can't believe that the inexpensive Aloe we buy in the stores is near as good as the real thing.

How do you suggest I see if the Aloe Vera I buy is the real thing? I suppose I could contact the grower. I could actually go to a local succulent nursery, certainly he would have the "real thing."

I've been told that in Mexico Aloe Vera is used oftentimes for skin problems. There was a study done that showed great improvement with skin psoriasis by using Aloe Vera 3x a day for a month.

I have no qualms about putting plant life on my skin if there is a chance it can help - it certainly is better than the hydrocortizone creams the docs suggest; they can do great damage to our body and they do not cure psoriasis or excema type skin conditions.



    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 2:11PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

That's why I'm, suggesting you buy the 99% pure gel product. I doubt there's any way to be SURE, & if you're that experienced a gardener, you know that SOME folks (not all, just SOME) will say anything to make a sale.

I don't question the efficacy Ginny, just the safety of unknown product w/ undocumented sources. In Mexico where they're often grown those folks are growing it themselves, so they can be assured they know what they've got.

Also, native Mexicans' knowledge & use of their natural & indigenous plants is an ancient tradition which they keep alive by teaching successive generations. (Do the books of Carlos Castenada ring a bell?)

    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 4:18PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Though Aloe vera is not from Mexico. It's from South Africa.

Where (roughly) are you in CA Ginny? It should be easy easy here (Unless you are in the mountains).

    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 4:55PM
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It's actually thought to be from the Horn of Africa / Arabian Peninsula (because of a number of Aloes with similar affinities, like A. vacillans), but its exact origin is unknown and no one has found a population that's the source of the plant mentioned in the Bible.


Please read the Aloe FAQ at the top of the page here at this Forum. Also, a picture of your plant would help a great deal in diagnosing the problem.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 6:22PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I would do both. I would grow Aloe vera outside in the ground in the garden. Aloes love to grow in the ground much better than in pots. It does pup furiously and you are in Zone 9. If you do get a light freeze, it will come back from the roots easily. I have some coming back from a freeze down toi 15F. True, 2 years later, LOL. I would use the store bought stuff till you have a good sized bunch going. It will proliferate, and if you are using it every day, you will need a nice bank of it. I give it a bit of shade because the Texas sun is merciless. I would keep both on hand until you get a feel for the right sized bank going where one can harvest and not over harvest according to your uses.

You might research because some of the other aloes are also medicinal and good for skin and other stuff too.

I spent 3 weeks on an intensive care ward on the windward side of Oahu in the 70's. I had third degree burns. My eye lid was split and my cheek was hamburger. I had 3rd degree burns down my arms , body and legs. They were not hugely bad 3 degree burns except for those on my face. I am a red head. I had people smuggle in aloe vera since I could not really figure out what they were doing to treat my burns. I was the first real burn patient in this little hospital in years. I kept the aloe coming and they were amazed at my progress. An intern said that red haired people usually scar less from burns because of our lack of pigment. I swear it was because of the aloe. When I am burned, it is the first thing I grab for.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 11:15PM
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You all provide food for thought. I will buy another bottle of the store bought Aloe Vera but I will continue to use the real thing.

I'll read the FAQ for growing instructions and hope I do better this time.

Thank you Wantonamara for sharing your story. Glad to hear you didn't have life long damage from that experience. Not surprised to hear you used Aloe, I've talked to many people who have used it on burns.


    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 12:28AM
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I'm favoring that you keep trying to grow Aloe in a container or in a separate area away from the other garden plants of roses, clematis ect. as watering and or sun requirements are different

Secondly this is a garden forum where plant questions can be answered not a where to go buy things that we can grow forum.

You mentioned it was store bought Aloe there alone lay the biggest part of the problem as they're commonly sold in a heavy peat based soil. After you read the suggested FAQ you'll probably find out that the plant will do better in a free draining soil.

I'm not 100% sure if the FAQ tells you what materials you'll need or have to choose from to make a free draining soil but I know the FAQ isn't going to tell you where you can get the items you may need choose to provide a free draining container soil.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 1:42AM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Oh, I survived without scars. I burnt my freckles off my face.

I grew my aloe in an improved clay on a hill. That is not the ideal medium but they were happy happy. I threw a frost cloth over them on hard freezes.The tree coverage also kept the worst of the frost away. The last two years was a little much for them. I have had my aloe patch for 30 years . It is regrowing and I am using commercial stuff right now.

In pots I use a fast draining mix without peat. Coir is a good peat

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 12:04PM
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"I know the FAQ isn't going to tell you where you can get the items you may need choose to provide a free draining container soil. "..............I am happy to put together my own free draining soil- exactly what components would you say make this up for Aloe in particular?

I will probably try a spot in the garden away from water loving plants, I can cover it when frost hits.....I will also repot the one I just bought from Trader Joe's which is indeed in a peat mix.

You are all great!!


    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 12:38PM
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Loose materials that should be 1/8 in to 1/4 inch in size
Course sifted gravel and or course sand, pumice or perlit, MVP or All Sport turface or Napa oil dry, shredded leaf debris or pine fines. Small size bark pieces as an example.

The generic formula is 1-1-1 in parts Example: one part pine fines one part perlite one part sifted gravel.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 4:20PM
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