ASK THE BOTANIST

As a trained environmental educator, with a specialty in marine biology, I find BOTANY - or the study of plants -  to be an exciting yet at times unfamiliar endeavor for me. So when I have plant related questions (which is often) I have one friend I turn to most, the knowledgeable ZOEY MANSON!

Zoey and I often collaborate on botanical styling, art and plant care, and now I am thrilled to share her wisdom with you all! Every month we will feature a Plant of the Month that we will discuss in more depth. Scroll Down to see the this month's featured Plant of the Month!

 We hope you find this page a helpful place to ask your plant related questions, request how-to tutorials, as well as, your favorite plants to feature. Zoey and I are excited to be offering this service to you all, sharing our love for plants and plant wisdoms! 

 


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ZOE - INFINITESUCCULENT - AskTheBotanist

meet Zoey

I began working with plants at Briggs Trees Company, in San Marcos, CA, where I was fully immersed in plant identification authenticating their entire inventory database. From there, I threw myself into planted art, landscape design and customer service working at the beautiful Barrels and Branches nursery in Encinitas, Ca. I am now studying and working full time as an ethnobotanist (someone who studies how people from different cultures use plants) at Mira Costa College in Oceanside, Ca.  


PLANT OF THE MONTH:

January

Aloe Vera

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all about aloe vera

Hey friends, it’s Rachael again sharing info on this month’s plant of the month, the trusty ALOE VERA.

Aloe vera is a succulent – as are all species of Aloe – since they store water in their thickened leaves. Aloe vera llikely originated in Sudan but is now found in warm to tropical climates around the world – like here in the Southeastern US, Mexico, Australia, South America, the Caribbean, China and even Southern Europe. It is believed that people brought these plants back to their native homes and cultivated them in part to their ease of growth, but also mainly due to the many medicinal benefits these plants provide.

This popular succulent is often called the “medicine plant” due to the powerful gel found within its leaves. This gel can be both applied topically as a remedy for skin irritations and burns, or ingested to promote health from the inside out. Aloe vera’s powerful gel contains over 75 antioxidants, vitamins and amino acids. When applied topically to burns and scrapes, pain subsides and healing is boosted. When ingested it can promote healthy skin and hair while also fighting inflammations, bacterial infections, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. (SOURCE)

Along with the medicinal benefits of the leaves, Aloe vera are great air purifiers, cleansing the air of many harmful indoor air toxins such as benzene and formaldehyde (which are often off-gassed by-products of common chemical based cleaners, paints and furniture materials). In fact, aloe vera are one of the plants identified as powerhouse air purifiers by NASA (SOURCE) . It is recommended to have 1 plant per 100 square feet of interior space for most effective air purification results. The larger the plants the more purification potential.

Aloe vera are wonderful plants to have all around your home.

Aloe vera are wonderful plants to have all around your home.

A aloe vera variety planted in my outdoor garden.

A aloe vera variety planted in my outdoor garden.

Aloe vera make great options for terrariums.

Aloe vera make great options for terrariums.

caring for your aloe vera:

Aloe vera are easy to care for and maintain while making eye-catching statement plants style wise as well. They reproduce readily when properly cared for, so are easy to propagate and gift to friends!

 

LIGHT: Low sunlight to direct sunlight is best. In full direct sun they will often take on a maroon color, especially in their leaf tips. Be careful to acclimate them to full sun or else they do tend to burn. These plants do well in low light areas indoors as long as they are not overwatered.

 

WATER: Water only when soil is completely dry – water thoroughly and allow water to drain. Do not overwater. Will need more water in brighter hotter conditions, than in cooler and shadier conditions.

 

CONDITIONS: These amazing medicinal plants thrive in more temperate climates and do not tolerate frost or cold drafts well. They prefer warm temperatures and indirect light. They also prefer well-draining soils, so if planting in pots make sure to use a cactus blend soil, or add some pumice or sand to your houseplant soil to ensure it does not retain too much moisture.

 

SOURCES:

Natural Healers - Aloe Vera: The Ultimate Guide

NASA - Interior Landscape Plants

Want to learn more or have specific questions?

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