What to Plant in August

The following is a list of vegetables you can plant in August in Sydney, a temperate zone. Just click on the link for the growing guide for each vegetable:

Plant of the Month – Aloe vera- (Aloe vera var. chinensis)

Mature Aloe vera chinesis over 4 years old and flowering.

Aloe vera is a hardy succulent native to the Arabian Peninsula where conditions are hot and dry but now it is widely grown around the world for its beauty and medicinal properties and can be grown in sunny windows indoors, outside and also in pots.

It grows to 60–100 cm tall and up to 60 cm wide spreading outwards by setting “pups” at the base of the mother plant.

The plant has triangular, thick, fleshy leaves with serrated edges as seen in the image below.

The white spines of the serrated edges of the Aloe vera chinensis

The leaf is made up of three layers: A thick outer layer called the rind that synthesizes proteins and carbohydrates, a middle layer of latex that is a bitter yellow sap and an inner layer of clear gel.

There are two types among the 500 species of Aloe vera that are popularly sold as to be used for cosmetic and medicinal purposes. Aloe vera leaf parenchyma (aloe gel) may be effective when used on the skin against psoriasis, burns, frostbite, and sores caused by the  Herpes simplex virus, skin irritations, sunburns, itching due to allergies and insect bites, sores and skin ulcers.

The Aloe vera chinensis can be used for minor burns and wounds externally but it is toxic to ingest the gel internally.

Aloe vera barbadensis Miller is used medicinally internally. Even so, the gel can be toxic to those who are allergic and can have adverse affects when consumed with other medications. Care is needed when considering using Aloe vera internally. Here is some further information from the Mayo Clinic at this link.

Aloe vera chinensis leaves are narrow and have white flecks on the upper and under side. They are arranged in a flatter stacked form as shown in the image below:

The stacked structure of a young Aloe vera chinensis.

This leaf arrangement varies from the Aloe vera barbadensis Miller which has leaves in a floret arrangement as shown in the image below:

The rosette structure and two types of leaves of the Aloe vera barbadensis Miller

The leaves of the Aloe vera chinensis are flecked as both immature and mature stage whereas the leaves of Aloe vera barbadensis Miller are flecked at the immature stage, then become a solid green colour at maturity. This can be seen in the image above with both mature leaves and pups in the same pot.

Aloe vera flowers after 4 years when the plant is in optimal condition. The tubular flowers are borne in cylindrical racemes on a branched panicle up to 90 cm tall. and are orange on the Aloe vera chinesis and yellow on the Aloe vera barbadensis Miller.

Flowers are borne on the long inflorescence. The flowers at the base develop first.

The tubular flowers attract pollinators and I have seen the honeyeater, The noisy miner drinking nectar from the flowers.

The lovely orange tubular flowers of the Aloe vera chinensis.

The flowers are tubular, and up to 3 cm long, with anthers and stigma protruding.

Detail of the Aloe vera flower.
The yellow flowers of the Aloe barbadensis Miller.

Aloe vera grows best in full sun to part shade.

While doing best at temperatures within the range 19-27°C it will tolerate temperatures ranging from 10°C to 35°C. So if your area experiences extreme heat in summer it may be best to locate your pots in the shade on hot afternoons. The leaves become sunburnt red in extreme sun.

Aloes grow best in well-drained sandy or loamy soils with pH in the range 6.5 – 7.5. If grown in pots, opt for terracotta and its porous properties and use cacti and succulent potting mix which gives the plant good drainage.

Propagate by removing the pups at the base of the plant and allow them to harden up for a couple of days. Then pot in succulent potting mix, leaving a small distance from the plant to the outer rim of the pot of about 2.5 cm as Aloe vera likes to be crowded in the pot to grow best.

As a succulent its low water requirements make Aloe vera a perfect plant for rockeries and water saving gardens. The plant should be left to dry out completely between watering and sheltered during wet winters when it is dormant.

Aloe vera grown in the ground produces creeping rhizomes that easily spread taking over with dense growths of new pups as it spreads, impacting on native vegetation and monopolizing resources. It can also escape pots in this way.

The image below shows and Aloe plant and its creeping rhizome and new plants growing around it

The creeping rhizome of the Aloe vera.

Aloe vera grows well even in dappled light.

Every home should have at least one of these easy to grow Aloe vera plants as a living medicine or just for its beauty.

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