Aloe vera, also known as burn plant, is a succulent perennial valued for its attractive leaves, ease of growth and medicinal properties. Native to Africa, aloe vera won't grow outside in the UK, but you can grow it indoors as a houseplant. The plant blooms during late spring and early summer, producing a large flower stalk that rises from the centre of the foliage. Flowers appear in shades of red, yellow, orange or pink, depending on the cultivar. The sap from aloe's green leaves soothes burns, making it a popular medicinal herb in kitchen windows across the country.
Keep aloe vera plants in a location that receives bright sunlight such as a south or west-facing window. Use a growing medium made of two parts potting soil and one part coarse sand to provide adequate drainage.
Maintain a consistent temperature of 15 to 27 degrees C (60F to 80F) during the day and about 13 degrees C (55F) at night for optimal growth. Never allow the temperature to drop below 4 degrees C (40F), or the plant will suffer cold damage.
Water aloe vera plants about once per week, or whenever the surface of the soil is completely dry, during the first two months of growth to help establish the plant. Reduce the watering frequency thereafter to one thorough soaking once every two to three weeks.
Feed once per year during early spring using a 10-40-10 bloom-boosting fertiliser. Water the soil lightly before and after applying to release the nutrients and prevent root burn. Apply following the manufacturer's directions for the best results.
Re-pot aloe vera plant once every three to four years, or whenever the plant has outgrown its container. Increase the size of the new pot by 7.5 to 10 cm (3 to 4 inches) and use a fresh growing medium to ease the shock of the transplant.
Container-grown aloe vera plants benefit from spending warm spring and summer months outdoors. Bring the plant back indoors before the first frost.
Remove the flower stalk immediately after blooming ends to help the plant conserve nutrients.