I remember when I was a kid how my grandma would break off aloe leaves from her plants, cut them open, scoop out the watery gel on the inside, and smooth it onto my red, crispy, sunburned skin.
Last weekend, I broke off leaves from the same plants and used them to soothe an angry sunburn across my forehead.
My grandma’s aloe plants are still alive and thriving. It’s with the aloe plants that I share my grandmother’s love of gardening with family and friends. The aloe plants are a way for me to keep my memories of my grandma fresh and present.
When I first took responsibility for the aloe plants, I wasn’t sure what to do with them all crowded and overgrown in their pots. I was afraid to repot them because I didn’t want to accidentally kill them in the process. At some point, I began to worry that leaving them all together would eventually cause them to die. So, I finally decided to take a chance on one pot of aloe plants.
I had to carefully wiggle the plants out. First, I tipped the pot on its side. Then, I massaged the sides of the pot. The pressure slowly pushed the soil up and out, which released the plants. The central parent plant had many baby plants interconnected with its root system. Some of the baby aloes had already grown away from the parent. It seemed obvious that as long as the plants had substantial growth, they could be separated and replanted. So that’s what I did, and they grew.
Since then, I have been adopting plants out and gifting them to friends and family. There aren’t too many friends who haven’t received at least one aloe plant from me.
Aloe Wedding Decor
A few years ago, my friend that I’ve known since middle school began immersing herself in urban gardening. She’s amazing at researching, planting, and caring for her plants. Therefore, her garden is lush, planned out, and a slice of paradise in the middle of a city neighborhood.
When I went to visit her one spring, I brought her some of my aloe babies to adopt. I knew they would be happy to live in this garden. My friend planted the aloes amongst the other garden succulents, and I was right. The plants were very happy with their new home.
That winter my friend had her wedding in a little west coast town in Mexico. When I sat down at a table for the reception, I observed the burgundy and burnt orange table runners, the bottles of wine, the tall glass candles with images of The Lady of Guadalupe, and small terracotta pots with succulents in them. Some even had aloe plants in them, which led me to wonder if my friend had made these with her personal garden foliage.
Later that I night, I confirmed that she had created the centerpieces with her own plants and included the baby aloes that had grown from the plants I had given her.
Aloes For Rock Climbers
My roommate recently moved out because she got married. No, we did not make aloe decorations for her wedding, but I did figure out a way to make them a part of the bachelorette party gifts.
The core group of friends are rock climbers. All of us had climbed using a rope I recently retired. I didn’t throw the rope away because I knew I could do something with it.
This is what I did.
- Found large glass jars and thoroughly cleaned them out.
- Broke out the hot glue gun.
- Used the hot glue to attach the climbing rope to the jar.
- Coiled the rope around the jar starting from the bottom, not the underneath bottom, just the lowest part of the side.
- Left a tail to make a figure eight knot and glued it to the side.
- Poured in a soil mix for cactus and succulent plants.
- Planted the aloes.
Planting the aloes in jars is not ideal. I could only fit one or two plants in the jars. There isn’t any drainage so it can be easy to create an environment that is too moist for the aloe. I warned my friends and let them know that if their aloes did die I could easily replace them.
I know. Most people don’t expect to get an aloe plant at a party, but it worked.
Never Ending Aloes
My aloe plants have survived extreme desert heat, hard freezes, not enough water, too much water, overcrowding, and bad soil. Their versatility make them ideal for anyone learning to garden or who wants something green growing that is hard to kill. Oh, even if you think you’ve killed your aloe plant it may still be alive. It’s likely that if you give it some care, it will perk up and keep growing for you.
It seems like I’ve given so many aloes away that I shouldn’t have anymore left, but they are resilient and propagate very quickly. It’s hard for me to believe, but it’s time to harvest the baby aloe plants again. My grandma would be happy to know that her aloe plants are still alive and well, sharing the aloe love.