Aloe Vera plant - a special story
The aloe vera plant is truly a miracle of Nature. Everyone in the world should have an aloe vera plant on their window sill.
As you probably already know, the healing power of the aloe vera has been documented for centuries. It has the ability to heal burns and cuts and soothe pain and there is a legend that Cleopatra used aloe vera to keep her skin soft.
There are so many articles about the wonderful aloe vera plant already that I hesitated to write another, but I do have a special story about this excellent plant.
My sister came for a visit one August. She lives hundreds of miles away, in west Texas, and she had stopped at a friend's house on the way. She was driving an old pickup. She stayed about a week with us and as she was leaving, I walked out to the pickup with her carrying some of her luggage.
She said, "Just toss it in the back," and when I did, I noticed an odd-looking creature laying there on the blazing hot metal of the pickup bed. It was gray-green, shriveled, and parts of it were crisp and brown. I gingerly picked it up by the tip of one tentacle and said, "Ewww, what's this?" She gasped and said, "Oh that's an aloe vera that my friend gave me when I left her house! I forgot all about it. Just toss it in the bushes!" This pathetic thing was not even planted in dirt! It had been laying there on the hot metal in the direct sun with its roots exposed!
I did toss it in the bushes, but after she drove away, I retrieved it and planted it in our back yard. Now we live on solid limestone rock with barely any topsoil; there is a small amount in the back yard but not much. When I scratched the hole for the poor plant I hit rock right away. I planted it, watered it, and promptly forgot about it. Weeks later I noticed that it was alive; struggling, sickly-looking, still shriveled, but clinging to life.
Well, the brutal Texas summer finally ended, followed by a dreary miserable winter.
Spring came, and our little backyard oasis burst into glorious bloom. Our rose bush was a cloud of pink, the sage was a vision of lavender blooms, and the Gregg's Salvia drew the humming birds and butterflies by the dozens. I was admiring the rose bush when I noticed an unusual red-orange bloom on a stalk nearby.
Sauntering over for a closer look, I gaped in amazement at the aloe vera plant, back from almost certain death and blooming! It began to throw off babies; every time I went out to check, it was surrounded by more and more babies. It must have had 70 or 80 babies spreading around it. I debated whether or not to separate and transplant the babies, but I just left them all alone.
Well, this situation went on for 6 or 7 years. My sister was amazed; I would occasionally send her pictures of the aloe vera bed. The big mama plant bloomed every spring.
Then during the winter of 2010-2011, we had several severe freezes that seemed to hang on for weeks and weeks. Sadly, the entire bed of aloe vera appeared to die. The plants were all completely dry and grey. I felt so badly and wished that I had covered them or somehow saved at least some of them. I started to clear away the dead plants because they are unsightly, but in the end, I left them and did nothing. I would often check to see if new little plants might appear but the entire bed appeared to be completely dead.
The following summer, Central Texas went into another severe drought period. The lake level went way down, there was a fire ban in effect, and we were struggling to keep our few plants alive. Imagine my amazement when, in the middle of July, I spied a little green aloe vera leaf peeking up through the dead plants! I began checking around and found dozens of the little plants hiding under the dead foliage of their mamas, a miracle of regrowth.
My theory is that the babies are thriving because they are sheltered from the blazing sun by the dead bodies of their mothers. Again, I will leave them alone and let Nature take its course. Perhaps when Fall arrives I might finally go out and clear away the debris.
Here is one tip for using your aloe vera plant. If someone in your family comes home with a bad sunburn, cut off one leaf of your plant. With one long slice down each side, trim off the thorns and discard. Then split the leaf lengthwise in half. Lay the two halves directly onto the sunburn, and listen to your patient sigh with relief as the aloe vera draws the heat from their sunburn.
Aloe Vera, truly a miracle plant.