Grow Aloe Vera at home; Keep a herb handy
Aloe Vera is a common ingredient in the hair care and beauty care products. It is also used as an edible substance that can treat many diseases. In addition to its medicinal properties, aloe vera can be an ornamental plant in the garden. Aloe is a rich source of minerals and vitamins and is available aplenty in herbal markets.
Aloe as medicine
Aloe vera is good to treat digestive disorders, uterine diseases, rheumatic or phlegmatic diseases, skin diseases and burn injuries. The transparent smooth pulp inside the leaves of aloe is used as medicine and to make juice, pickle and chutney.
Aloe pulp added with lemon juice and ginger can be used as cool drinks during summer. However, the bitter taste of aloe pulp hinders many from consuming it. The dried aloe leaf pulp powder is known as ‘Chenninayakam’ which is considered as one of the most bitter tasting herbal medicines.
The National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR) in Madhya Pradesh has found a type of a less bitter aloe vera from the banks of River Narmada. This is available in the name ‘Kumari Patra’. As this variety of aloe is less bitter, it tastes better and is ideal for household purposes.
How to grow aloe vera
Aloe vera can be easily grown in any soil type without much care. As the roots of aloe grow on surface level, water permeability has to be ensured.
Though aloe vera commonly grows under shade, it flourishes when planted under direct sunlight.
Tender shoots of aloe vera is used for planting. Only very few shoots can be collected from a plant.
The agriculture university has developed tissue culture method to reproduce the plant.
Three-month-old tissue culture saplings can be planted in the garden at a distance of 1.5 feet.
For household purposes, plant them in grow bags, polythene covers or flowerpots.
After six months of planting, the leaves can be cut for taking out the pulp. Leaves can be collected from a plant upto three years.
Where to get aloe saplings
Three-month-old tissue culture aloe vera saplings are available for Rs 15 at the plantation crops and spices nursery at Agricultural University headquarters in Thrissur.