Aloe Vera plant care is fairly simple – it’s one of the low-maintenance plants. But even though it’s a difficult-to-kill plant, it still requires certain care and specific conditions to stay healthy and strong. Read on to learn how to properly grow Aloe Vera plant.
Botanical/Latin Name: Aloe Barbadensis
Common Name: Aloe Vera
How Much Light Does an Aloe Plant Need?
Minimal amount of light: 500 lux (50 FC), low light-tolerant
Optimal amount of light: 40,000 lux (4,000 FC), full sun
Direct sun tolerance: 8 hours
Aloe Vera plant grows best in full sun. However, it can get sunburned if exposed to direct sunshine straight away. Sounds complicated? Not really. Here’s how to provide sufficient light to your Aloe.
Find a spot with the indirect sun – this spot will be a temporary home for your plant. Your next step is to expose Aloe Vera to direct sunlight – only one hour a day. You’ll do this by moving the pot to an area with direct sun for one hour daily. Repeat this process every morning for one week. Once the plant is used to getting one hour of sunshine, go ahead and increase exposure to two hours a day. Each week, you’ll increase the length of exposure to direct sun by one hour. One hour a day of full sun in the first week, two hours a day of full sun in the second week, and so on. Continue increasing the amount of direct sunshine gradually until it’s time to find a new, permanent spot for your Aloe plant.
The idea is for the plant to receive direct sunlight all day long but you must make the transition from indirect light to full sunshine gradually. Otherwise, your Aloe Vera plant may experience stress and get sunburned.
Watering Aloe Vera
How Often to Water Aloe Vera?
Great news for forgetful plant parents – Aloe doesn’t need to be watered often. The watering frequency will be different for each person depending on their environment. Allow the soil to dry out completely before you water it. Stick a chopstick to the bottom of the pot and once it comes out fully dry, without any soil stuck to it, it’s time to water. This can be anywhere from once a week or bi-weekly, to once every three weeks. During the winter, water even more sparingly.
Humidity and sunlight play an important role in how often your plant needs water. That’s why you must keep an eye on your plant and find a watering schedule that’s suitable for your specific Aloe.
If humidity in your home is high (over 60-70%), aloe will lose less water through evaporation through the leaves. This means the roots will take up less water from the soil and as a result, the soil will stay wet longer. So in homes with high humidity, aloe will need to be watered less frequently than in homes with lower humidity.
The more light your aloe gets, the more it will photosynthesize and the more water the plant will use and uptake from the soil. So the more light, the faster will the soil dry out and you will need to water more frequently. In low light, the plant will photosynthesize less, will use less water from the soil and as a result the soil will stay wet longer and will need to be watered less frequently.
Check out my video to learn about four different methods to determine if it’s time to water your plants:
Do You Water Aloe Vera from Top or Bottom?
You can water Aloe Vera plant from the top or the bottom, it doesn’t make a difference. The main thing is to wait until the soil is fully dry, all the way to the bottom of the pot, before watering.
How Much Water Does an Aloe Plant Need?
The amount of water will be different for each plant, depending on a lot of factors – plant size, pot size, potting soil, pot type, amount of light, humidity…. In general, for aloe, less water is better than more. These succulents will handle drought much easier than being overwatered. To secure optimum Aloe Vera plant care, follow a thorough-and-infrequent watering method.
Water the soil thoroughly and wait for the water to start coming out the bottom of the pot.
After watering, scratch the soil surface and make sure that the soil is wet an inch below the top. A lot of potting mixes are made of peat moss and as peat moss is hydrophobic (it repels water when dry), it’s possible that the water comes out the bottom of the pot right away, but the soil doesn’t absorb much of it and stays dry an inch below the top.
In that case, repeat watering until the soil is fully saturated. Also leave the water in the saucer for about 30 minutes so the soil has a chance to absorb it. After 30 minutes, spill the excess water from the saucer.
Make sure that the soil dries out in about 7-10 days maximum. If that is not the case, increase the amount of light, switch to a more porous potting mix or move the aloe to a terracotta pot.
Cut Aloe leaf, Ingold Franziska, Pixabay
Aloe Plant Fertilizing Needs
When it comes to fertilizing Aloe, like with most houseplants, if you repot regularly, there is no need to fertilize. Fresh soil will provide additional nutrients.
Since Aloe Vera’s native environment is nutrient-poor soil, the plant barely needs any extra nutrition. In case you find it necessary, fertilize during the growing season and avoid all-purpose fertilizers. Instead, use those formulated for succulents.
Aloe Vera Potting Soil and How to Repot an Aloe Plant
Being a succulent, standard tropical potting soil mixes are not the best choice for Aloes, as they retain a lot of moisture. Instead, aloe needs fast-draining and airy soil.
I make my own succulent mix of perlite, bark, and peat moss. You too can make your own – mix 2 parts peat moss-based potting mix with 1 part perlite and 1 part bark. Or to make it easier, you can use this ready-made Succulent & Cacti Mix.
To repot your aloe, I suggest using a terracotta pot. Get the next pot size – if your current pot is 4” wide, go for a 6” pot. Fill about 1/3 of the new pot with soil. Now take your aloe plant out of its current pot and lightly loosen the rootball. Go ahead and place your plant in its new container, then add more soil to fill the remaining space. Press the soil firmly and make sure your aloe is potted at the same depth as before.
Aloe plant in soil, Severin Candrian, Unsplash
Aloe Vera Temperature Tolerance
Aloe prefers a warm climate: between 70°F and 85°F (21C and 30C). However, it will tolerate temperatures down to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This succulent is intolerant to freezing temperatures and cold drafts. If exposed to extremely low temperature for an extended period, your plant will struggle and it may not survive for too long.
Aloe Vera Humidity Needs
Aloe Vera plant will thrive in environments with low humidity: from 5% to 24%. Think of its African origins and you’ll understand why it doesn’t require much humidity. In case you live in a humid climate, don’t worry – you can still grow Aloe, it will adapt to high humidity without any problems.
Is Aloe Vera Toxic to Humans or Pets?
The two primary components of Aloe’s leaf are used in health care products – clear gel and yellow latex. According to the Mayo Clinic, Aloe Vera gel is considered safe for topical use. It can be effective in treating skin conditions. It helps treat burns, wounds, acne, psoriasis, and other skin conditions.
On the other hand, using Aloe latex orally or giving it to your pet is not advised according to the Mayo Clinic. They state that oral use of Aloe latex or whole-leaf extract is likely unsafe. Oral use might even have the potential to cause cancer. To learn more about aloe topical and oral use, take a look at Mayo Clinic’s article.
Person holding Aloe gel cosmetic product, Nati Melnychuk, Unsplash
Propagating Aloe Plants
Propagating Aloe Plants is super easy through a method called division. Just cut or break off one of the plants and pot it in soil. Ideally, the rhizome that you are separating should already have some roots, but even if it doesn’t, it’s not that important, it will grow them.
You can see how I’m propagating Aloe in my video below.
Aloe Vera Pruning
In general, there is no need to prune an aloe plant if all the leaves are green and healthy. As the plant matures, older leaves will dry out and die and you can prune them.
Use sharp and disinfected pruning tools to prune your Aloe. You can use hydrogen peroxide to disinfect the tools. A pair of scissors, a knife, or gardener’s shears will do the job – just make sure they’re sharp enough. Identify dead or shriveled leaves and remove them.
Is Aloe Vera an Indoor or Outdoor Plant?
The Aloe Vera plant can be grown both indoors and outdoors. Naturally, all plants are outdoor plants but that doesn’t mean they can’t thrive in our homes. Indoor gardening makes it easier to control the environment and create perfect conditions for plants. On the other hand, growing your Aloe outdoors had its own advantages too – there is so much more light than indoors which makes it really hard to overwater a plant. Once you learn how to care for Aloe Vera, you’ll have a healthy plant whether it’s in your home or garden.
How to Grow Aloe Vera Outdoors
To grow Aloe Vera outdoors, start by finding a spot in your garden that gets partial sun and has well-draining soil. Aloes love full sun, but you need to acclimate them gradually to it, otherwise they might get sunburned.
Once you’ve found the perfect spot with partial sun, place the pot in that spot for a week or two. Each week keep increasing exposure to direct sun, until the plant is fully acclimated to direct sun.
At that point you can either leave the plant in its pot or pot it directly into the garden. Dig a hole that’s twice the size of the Aloe Vera’s root ball and mix in some compost. Gently place the plant in the hole and backfill it with soil. Water the Aloe Vera deeply and regularly for the first few weeks until it’s established. After that, you can water it less frequently.
With the plant being outside you don’t need to worry about overwatering as much as indoors, as the plant is getting much more light and is also exposed to wind, which is drying out the soil, so it’s very difficult to overwater an aloe outdoors.
Why Is My Aloe Turning Red?
Aloe plants can vary in color, but they are typically green. However, some aloe plants will turn red, especially when they are exposed to direct sunlight. But don’t worry, there is nothing wrong with your plant.
The red color is due to anthocyanins, which are pigment molecules that absorb light. Anthocyanins are found in many plants, and they can range in color from red to purple. When an aloe plant turns red, it is usually a sign that the plant is stressed. This can happen if the plant is not getting enough water or if it is exposed to a lot of direct sunlight.
Do Aloe Plants Need Direct Sunlight?
Aloe Vera is best grown in direct sunlight. However, it will tolerate low light too. The difference is that leaves will change shape and lose spikes if grown in low light conditions. And if you like that look, that’s just fine. But, when they get enough direct sun, their leaves become firmer, develop small “spikes”, for the lack of a better word, and often change color. They start growing in a different way, and to me personally, they look much more aesthetically pleasing.
Aloe Vera in my office. Notice the leaves are relatively firm and have started developing tiny spikes
What Does an Overwatered Aloe Plant Look Like?
An overwatered aloe plant can be recognized by its leaves. The leaves will be soft and mushy, yellow, brown, or black and wilted. The leaves may also fall off easily.
How to Get Your Aloe Vera to Flower
It is not difficult to get your aloe Vera plant to flower, but it does require a little bit of care and attention. Here are the steps you need to take to ensure your plant blooms:
- Aloe Vera plants need a lot of sunlight in order to bloom, so make sure it is placed in a sunny spot. If you live in an area with long winters and short summers, you may need to supplement your plant with artificial lighting.
- The soil your plant is growing in also needs to be well-drained. Aloe Vera plants are susceptible to root rot, so it is important to make sure the soil is not too wet.
- Once your plant is about two years old, you can start to fertilize it with a high-phosphorus fertilizer. This will encourage the formation of flowers.
- Aloe Vera plants typically bloom in the late summer or early fall.
With a little bit of care and attention, you can easily get your Aloe Vera plant to flower. Just make sure it has enough sunlight and well-drained soil.
How to Protect Aloe Vera Plant in Winter
There are a few things you can do to protect your aloe vera plant from the cold weather in winter. First, if you are keeping the plant outside, you can move it indoors for the winter and place it in a bright spot that gets plenty of direct sunlight. Second, you can water it less often, as the plant will need less water in the cooler months. This will reduce chances of root rot. Third, if you are leaving the plant outside during winter, you can apply a layer of mulch around the base of the plant to help insulate the roots from the cold. By following these simple tips, you can help your aloe vera plant survive the winter months.
How to Know Is My Aloe Vera Plant Healthy?
If you want to know if your Aloe Vera plant is healthy, there are a few things you can look for. First, check the leaves for any brown spots or yellowing. If the leaves are green and healthy-looking, that’s a good sign. Another good sign is if the plant is producing new leaves. Finally, check the root system to make sure it is white and healthy. If the plant is missing any of these signs, it might be unhealthy.
What Are the Best Aloe Vera Growing Tips?
- Aloe Vera plants prefer a location with direct sun. If you live in an area with limited sunlight, you can place your plant in front of a south-facing window.
- If you don’t have a lot of light, and your plant’s leaves are limpy, get a grow light.
- These plants are drought-tolerant, so you don’t need to water them too frequently. Wait for the soil to fully dry out to the bottom of the pot before watering. This can take one or several weeks, depending on your environment.
- Aloe Vera plants need well-draining soil. Amend your potting mix with 30-50% perlite, bark or another amendment. If your pot doesn’t have a drainage hole, be sure to add one. Even though it’s possible growing aloes in pots without a drainage hole, a hole makes it easier, especially for beginners.
With just a little bit of care, your Aloe Vera plant will thrive and provide you with plenty of benefits.