There are in fact over 200 varieties of Aloe, but it is the Aloe Barbadensis Miller (Aloe Vera or "true aloe") plant which has been of most use to mankind because of the medicinal properties it displays. Ancient records show that the benefits of this plant have been known for centuries, with its therapeutic advantages and healing properties surviving for more than 5000 years.
Egyptian Queens associated its use with their physical beauty, while in the Phillipines it is used with milk for kidney infections. Legend suggests that Alexander the Great conquered the island of Socotra in the Indian Ocean to secure supplies of Aloes to treat the battle wounds of his soldiers.
"Four vegetables are indispensable for the well being of man:
Wheat, the grape, the olive and aloe.
The first nourishes him, the second raises his spirit,
The third brings him harmony, and the fourth cures him"
Christopher Columbus (1451-1506)
Aloe Vera remained a prominent herbal remedy but as the Northern European countries expanded their colonisation of the globe, it starts to fall from grace. It is not clear why this was so, but a possible explanation is the difference between the use of Aloe Vera in tropical climes, compared with the temperate north.
In tropical countries where the plants grew naturally, there was an abundance of fresh Aloe. However, Aloe Vera had to be imported to the temperate north, but inevitably degraded in transit. Physicians in Europe therefore never got to experience the true benefits, and scorned reports of the wonders that it could do for health. In consequence it never really took hold; in the knowledge of European Physicians, and the alleged remarkable healing powers; were felt to be more myth than fact. As science developed Aloe Vera became discarded along with many stalwart herbal remedies of an earlier age.
How to Propagate Aloe vera
Most people will propagate Aloe vera plants by taking a cutting from a mature plant. However, Aloe vera can also be cultivated from seed. Obviously, the process of reaching a mature plant will take longer when you start an Aloe vera from seed, but you can produce an awful lot more plats in the process.
So, how do you grow Aloe vera plants from seed?
Gentle water the seed in, probably the best way to do this so as to disturb the seed as little as possible is to place the tray in a larger container and water from the bottom.
Allow the water to rise through the compost naturally by capillary action. The surface grit will normally change colour once it is wet and this is a good indication that the compost is now properly watered.
Place a transparent cover on top of the tray - this can be a propagator lid, sheet of glass, clingfilm etc and move the tray to a warm location where temperatures will remain between 70 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
Germination can start anywhere from one to four months. If the compost begins to dry off during this period you will need to remove the transparent cover and gently water once more.
As soon as the seedlings start to show, the cover will need to be removed immediately so as not to encourage fungal infections on the Aloe vera seedlings
Once the seedlings are large enough to handle they an be transplanted into 3-inch pots filled with a free draining potting soil. Allow to dry out between watering.
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Based on an article by http://www.ehow.com/how_5652931_cultivate-aloe-seeds.html and http://www.aloehealthuk.com/content/articles.aspx?article=9
Photo care of http://www.freeplant.net/indoor_plants.html and http://www.advancedalternativescenter.com/Aloe_Vera_Farms_s/244.htm and http://www.justgrowit.ca/?m=200811 and http://greenforks.com/2008/02/time-to-sow-the-sweet-peppers-and-chillies/ and http://www.zdravi-krasa-nwa.cz/radka/fotov/ and http://www.scielo.cl/scielo.php?pid=S0717-75182005000300005&script=sci_arttext