The blue aloe, also known by the scientific name aloe glauca, is one of more than 250 different species of aloe plants. The blue aloe typically grows to a height between 6 inches and 18 inches (15.2 cm and 45.7 cm), with each thick leaf capable of reaching up to 16 inches (40.6 cm) in length. The leaves bear the bluish-gray color that gives the plant its name. The leaves are smooth but edged in reddish-brown spikes reminiscent of a cactus. The leaves of this succulent contain a gel that's used as an ingredient in everything from topical ointments to cosmetics to medicinal gel capsules.
The plants grow in layers known as rosettes that start in the center and branch out. Blue aloe can also flower year-round with bright, red-orange blossoms. The aloe belongs to the cactus and succulent plants category, and grows outdoors in hot, dry climates. Aloe plants also commonly make excellent container plants.
Blue aloe plants usually do best when spaced between 6 inches to 12 inches (15.2 cm to 30.5 cm) apart when planted outside. They're typically easy to grow as garden plants, and usually do best in full sun with drier soil than many other garden plants. They prefer the same type of soil where cacti grow, which is a loose, sandy soil rather than dense soil or clay. When kept in containers, blue aloe should have adequate drainage so the soil is damp only after watering. This can help keep mildew and root rot from damaging the aloe as well.
The fleshy leaves of the blue aloe contain a gel that can be used raw from the plant on such injuries as scrapes, cuts and burns. It has natural anti-bacterial properties and also helps reduce swelling. The gel is used in a variety of skin care products, skin ointments and beauty products as well. The processed gel is used in capsule form to treat a range of remedies that claim to help with such things as digestion problems, constipation and irregular menstrual periods.
For home use, a leaf should be cut from the plant near its base. The best leaves to use are those at least 8 inches (20.3 cm) long. If none of the leaves are that long, the plant probably isn't mature enough to use. The spines around the edge of the leaf should be cut away, and then the leaf should be split down the middle to reveal the gel. The blue aloe gel can then be applied directly to the skin to treat cuts, scrapes, minor burns, sunburns, acne, rashes and bug bites.