Because aloe vera has many health benefits and medicinal uses, it is cultivated for commercial use in many regions across the globe.
Commercial Growing of Aloe Vera: Plantations
According to Davies (2000), aloe vera is cultivated around the world, especially on plantations in
- the Caribbean
- Rio Grande Valley (southern Texas)
Why is the Rio Grande Valley an Aloe Hotspot?
The Rio Grande Valley, which stretches around 43,000 square miles, is the area of fertile land that surrounds the Rio Grande river. Although located in southern Texas, the Valley has environmental conditions that mimic the African climate, making it a suitable place for aloe vera to not only grow but thrive (Vigness & Odintz, 2010). Aloe vera, a succulent native to northern Africa, is accustomed to the soil, water patterns, and temperature of the African continent (Davies, 2000). With soil and weather similar to that of Africa, the Rio Grande Valley is an optimal growing place for the cactus-like plant. In fact, the Valley has become the “largest area of Aloe Vera cultivation” (Davies, 2000, pg.9). Here is a more in-depth look at the two main ways the Valley is like Africa:
1. The Soil: Many aloe vera growing guides suggest that you add sand, granite grit, or perlite to regular potting soil when planting an aloe vera, as the plant is used to growing in the rocky, open areas of African mountains. Using course, gritty materials to create a soil will help promote the proper drainage of the picky plant (Backyard Gardner, 2006; Davies, 2000). Therefore, the mixture of
that makes up the soil of the Rio Grande Valley aligns with the aloe vera’s needs (Davies, 2000). Because the Valley is built upon a delta, the river deposits these large amounts of rich sandy soil along its banks, making it ideal agricultural land for many plants including the aloe vera (Vigness & Odintz, 2010).
2. The Weather: The weather of the Rio Grande Valley can be described as warm and humid (Davies, 2000). Equipped with leaves that retain moisture and a shallow root system that can suck up water in the soil during dry spells, the aloe vera is evolutionarily prepared to take on arid, sunny climates (Davies, 2000; Lawless & Allan, 2000). Growing aloe vera in the Valley therefore caters to the plant’s anatomy, allowing it to be cultivated there year-round (Davies, 2000).
Different Plantation, Different Aloe Vera
Depending on where aloe vera was grown, it quality will vary. Buying nonpasteurized and organic aloe vera products that have an International Aloe Science Council (IASC) Seal of Approval is often advised to ensure the purchase of quality aloe vera (Davies, 2000).
Backyard Gardener. (2006, March 1). Growing aloe vera. Yavapai County: Arizona Cooperation
Extension. Retrieved from http://ag.arizona.edu/yavapai/anr/hort/byg/archive/aloevera.html
Davies, J. R. (2000). Aloe vera. Shaftesbury, Dorset: Element Books Limited.
Lawless, J., & Allan, J.(2000). Aloe vera: Natural wonder cure. Great Britain: Woolnough Bookbinding Ltd.
Vigness, D. M., & Odintz, M. (2010, June 15). Rio Grande Valley. Retrieved from