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Tips For Growing Aloe Vera Plants and DIY Aloe Treatments

The Aloe Vera plant has many aliases -- the Miracle Plant, the Medicine Plant, the Burn Plant. Whatever you want to call it, this plant has a clear gel inside the leaves that is used for a multitude of purposes and it is easy to grow. Eddie Russell with Cornelius and Calloway's Nursery has tips for growing your own Aloe Vera plant and a few DIY recipes.

Aloe Vera's reputation for healing, soothing and rejuvenating is evident in the many products now on the market. But it is just as popular to apply the sap directly to the skin, which is why more and more people are opting to grown their own.

Eddie Russell with Cornelius and Calloway's Nursery says aloe is not only inexpensive, but also very easy to care for.

"Aloe Vera is in the succulent family which is related to the cactus and they tend to have more water in their leaves," said Eddie, "You can keep it indoors or outdoors. Water when it's dry but don't water often. Like a cactus, succulents don't like to have a lot of water. Outside, water every two weeks. Indoors I'd do every three weeks or month. You always want real bright light, in the house -- you'd want it in a window or a well lit room. Outside, you want to keep it in the shade, with no direct sunlight on the leaves."

If your Aloe Vera plant is brown and sagging, Eddie says you may have watered it too much. It may also need a new home.

"When Aloe Vera becomes root bound it's time for it to be transplanted. One way to tell is if you take it out of the pot and the roots are winding around the bottom you know it's time to repot," he said, "If it becomes root bound they send out little platelets or offshoots called pups. Those can be severed from the mother plant and be repotted. When you are repotting an Aloe Vera you want to pot the plant in a pot that's two inches larger than the pot it's in. That will give the roots space to expand."

When it comes to removing the leaf, Eddie says just breaking it off may not be a good idea.

"It's always best to have a fresh cut it will heal better that way. When you are going to remove a leaf to use from the Aloe Vera the best thing to do is use a sharp knife and cut it at the base of the leaf -- where the soil line meets the leaf. To store it, after you've used it, you can put it in a sandwich bag, wrap in foil and put in the fridge that way. It will last 4-5 days. You can reuse it. As you take it out, it will be callused out, just scrape the leaf and release the gel again and there you go."

Aloe Vera Recipes:

Soothing Ice Cubes:

Directions: Cut the epidermal area - the top area - off of the plant. Cut the long stem into 2 inch pieces. Set on a plate and put in the freezer. Once frozen, remove the pieces and place them in a zip top bag, place back into the freezer. When you have a sun burn, use the piece of frozen aloe Vera to put directly on the skin. The cool, soothing nature of the Aloe makes for instant sunburn relief!

Mouth Rinse:
1 ounce of Aloe Vera gel
1 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1 ounce of water
lemon

Directions: Mix all the ingredients together and add a squeeze of lemon. Use within about 10 minutes for best mouth rinse results

Aloe Vera Hand Sanitizer:
2/3 cup rubbing alcohol
1/3 cup Aloe Vera gel
10 drops of essential oil - we used Lavender

Directions: Mix all the ingredients together and place into an empty pump container. Hand sanitizers can be really drying and the Aloe Vera helps moisturize the skin.

For more information visit calloways.com/cornelius.

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