I have a turbulent relationship with the sun.
This is me doing a totally tremendous job of turning myself into a Lobster, an uneven Lobster I might add. I have a whole album of sun burn silliness from various holidays I have been on.
I find remembering to apply sunscreen as difficult as remembering the birthdays of my friends’ children or remembering to drink water between cocktails on a night out.
Anyway, I am not here to highlight how much of an idiot I am but instead to share with you my profound love for the Aloe Vera plant. Trust me there is a link…
Whenever I have a run in with the sun my go to is Aloe Vera gel. Oh my gosh, what a delight to slather it all over my frazzled shoulders, back and shins. Yes shins. I have a talent for burning those too! Immediately soothing me like a Coca Cola has the ability to fix you on a hangover. Get it straight out of the fridge* and its absolutely amazing, I promise it does wonders even for the worst sunbathing incidents.
*applies to both Aloe Vera gel and Coca Cola
Click here if you want to treat yourself for your next lobster moment… link. Or alternatively don't be an idiot like me and apply factor 50 at all times!
The Aloe Vera has been a fond favourite of mine for many years. I love the solid nature of this plant, its chunky leaves which feel more like they should be referred to as arms or tentacles. Like an octopus, although not limited to just eight tentacles, they have a wild sprawling feeling especially when they grow really large. The smaller ones are traditionally a little more structured because of the way in which they are grown in some nurseries but don’t let this put you off they will take on their own personality in time. The beauty of the Aloe Vera plant is it can grow from such tiny little babies to huge bad boys pretty sharpish if they’re in the right spot around your home – basically basking in the sunlight for big chunks of the day. Although ideally morning sun so it doesn't scorch their leaves. They have the potential to burn and blister just like I do!
If you are looking for a plant that is easy to keep then look no further. Ideal for those of you who can be a little forgetful. The good news is that the Aloe Vera can go two to three weeks without watering and they won’t get mad. Letting the soil dry out completely between watering and then giving them a healthy water when you do will keep this one a very happy chappy. Keep your eye on the colour of their tentacles (leaves) as they should be a bright green colour. If they have started to turn brown or yellow this is most likely going to be a sign of overwatering.
Remember this guy was originally a desert plant and so it is used to arid conditions and can go weeks without water. Don’t get giddy with the watering can… It's a sure-fire way to make him really unhappy and turn the leaves brown and give him root rot. So, take it easy with this one when it comes to drinks, definitely only watering every couple of weeks. Plus it is important to make sure he's sat in dirt that has got a lot of drainage too, ideally a mixture of half sand and half soil.
I also like to give mine a little spin especially in the spring and summer so that they grow evenly and don’t lean too much one way towards the sun. Although if lopsided is your thing (no judgement there!) then let the Aloe Vera take its own course and watch its tentacles reach for the sun.
And bonus points if you can get yours to flower! I once nurtured one well enough that it bloomed for me – I was growing it in my flat in Amsterdam, it was a solid old Aloe and pleasantly surprised me one day with a yellow flower shooting out of the middle, such a treat. I dare you to make yours happy enough that it brings you flowers! The key is lots of sunshine and relaxed watering times.
So if you’re looking for a classic for a sunny spot in your home then it is time to say Aloe Aloe to one of these guys!