Aloe Vera Plants Care: Guide & Tips

Aloe Vera Plants Care: Guide & Tips

The aloe vera plant is an easy, stunning succulent that makes for a great indoor and outdoor companion. And can also relieve pain from sun burns when applied on the skin.

About Aloe Vera Plants

Aloe vera is a succulent plant species of the Aloe family. The plant is stemless or very short-stemmed with thick, green, fleshy leaves that fan out from the plant’s central stem. The margin of the leaf is serrated with small teeth.

Before you buy an aloe, note that you’ll need a place that offers tons of bright sunlight (or artificial sunlight). Direct sunlight can dry out the plant too much and turn can turn its fleshy leaves yellow, so you may need to water more often if your aloe lives in an especially sunny spot.

WARNING: The gel from aloe vera leaves can be used topically, but should NOT be eaten by people or pets. It can cause unpleasant symptoms such as nausea or indigestion and may even be toxic in larger quantities. 

Common Name

Aloe vera

Botanical Name

Aloe barbadensis miller

Family

Asphodelaceae

Plant Type

Succulent, herb, perennial

Mature Size

12-36 in. tall, 6-12 in. wide

Sun Exposure

Full, partial

Soil Type

Sandy

Soil pH

Acidic

Bloom Time

Summer

Flower Color

Yellow, red, orange

Hardiness Zones

10-12 (USDA)

Native Area

Africa

Toxicity

Toxic to humans, toxic to pets

 

Aloe Vera Plant outdoors

How to Plant Aloe Vera

Before you Start Planting Aloe Vera

  • It’s important to choose the right type of container. A pot made from terracotta or a similarly material is highly recommended, as it will allow the soil to dry thoroughly between waterings and will also be heavy enough to keep the plant from tipping over and falling.

  • When choosing a container, be sure to pick one that has at least one drainage hole in the bottom. This is key for any plant survival, as the hole will allow excess water to drain out. Aloe vera plants are hardy, but a lack of proper drainage can cause rot and wilting, which is the most common cause of death for this plant.

  • Select a container that’s about as wide as it is deep. If your aloe plant has a stem, choose a container that is deep enough for you to plant the entire stem under the soil.

  • Aloe vera plants are succulents, so use a well-draining potting mix, such as those made for cacti and succulents. Do not use gardening soil. A good mix should contain perlite, lava rock, chunks of bark, or all three.

  • A layer of gravel, clay balls, or any other “drainage” material in the bottom of the pot is not necessary. This only takes up space that the roots could otherwise be using.

  • To encourage your aloe to put out new roots after planting, dust the stem of the plant with a rooting hormone powder.

How to Plant an Aloe Vera Plant

If your aloe plant has grown leggy, has gotten too large, or simply needs an upgrade, it’s time to repot it. That’s how:

  1. Prepare your pot.After giving the new pot a quick rinse and letting it dry thoroughly, place a small piece of newspaper over the drainage hole; this will keep the soil from falling out the bottom while you fill the pot. Just remember to poke a hole or two though the paper after you are done, so water can drain more easily, it will anyways break down over time.

  2. Prepare your plant.Remove your aloe vera plant from its nursery pot and take away any excess dirt from the roots, being careful not to damage the roots.

    • If your plant has any pups, you may should remove them now.

    • If your plant has a very long, spindly stem that won’t fit in the pot, it is possible to trim the stem off partially. Note that this is risky and could kill the plant.

To trim the stem: Cut off part of the stem, leaving as much as possible on the plant. Next, take the bare plant and place it in a warm area that gets indirect light. After several days, a callous will form over the wound. At this point, continue with the repotting process as you read below.

  1. Plant your plant.Fill the pot about a third of the way with a well-draining potting mix, then place your plant in the soil. Continue filling in soil around the plant, leaving at least 3/4 of an inch (or 2-3 cm) of space between the top of the soil and the rim of the pot. The bottom leaves of the aloe plant should rest just above the soil, too. Do not water after planting.

  2. Let nature do her magic. After you’ve placed your aloe vera in its new pot, don’t water it for at a couple of weeks. This will decrease the chance of inducing rot and give the plant time to put out new roots. Until the plant has rooted, keep it in a warm place that receives bright but never direct sunlight.

Aloe Vera Plant indoors

How to Care for Aloe Vera Plants

Watering Aloe Vera Plants

Watering is the most difficult part of keeping aloe vera healthy, but it’s certainly not a very difficult schedule to follow. The aloe is a succulent plant that is accustomed to warm, arid environments, but its thick leaves do need sufficient water to properly grow.

  • Water aloe vera plants deeply, but infrequently. In other words, the soil should feel moist after watering, but should be allowed to dry out to some extent before you water again. If the soil stays overly wet, the plant’s roots will most likely rot.

  • To ensure that you’re not overwatering your plant, allow the top third of potting soil to dry out between waterings. For example, if your plant is kept in 6 inches of potting soil, allow the top 2 inches to dry out before watering again. (Use your finger or a wooden chopstick to test the dryness of the soil.)

  • Generally speaking, water your aloe plant about every 2-3 weeks in the spring and summer and only once a month (or even less) during the fall and winter. One rule of thumb for fall and winter watering is to roughly double the amount of time between waterings compared to your summer watering schedule, but the finger test is always a must.

  • When watering, some excess water may run out the bottom of the pot. Let the pot sit in this water so that the soil re-absorbs it as much as possible. Wait 10-15 minutes, then dump any excess water.

Splitting & Propagating Aloe Vera

Mature aloe vera plants often produce offsets — also known as plantlets, pups, we call them “babies” — that can be removed to produce an entirely new clone plant.

Aloe Vera Plant propagation

In order to properly propagate your aloe vera plants:

  1. Find where the offsets are attached to the mother plant and separate them using pruning shears, scissors, or a sharp knife. Use clean tools and leave at least an inch of stem on the offset. 

  2. Allow the offsets to sit out of soil for a few days; this lets the offset form a callous over the cut, which helps to protect it from rot. Keep the offsets in a warm, ventilated location with indirect light during this time.

  3. Once the offsets have formed their calluses, pot them in a standard succulent potting mix. The soil should be well-draining.

  4. Put the newly-potted pups in a sunny location. Wait at least a week or two to water and maintain the soil on the dry side.

Flowering an Aloe Vera Plant

Mature aloe vera plants can occasionally produce a tall inflorescence – or flower spike – from which dozens of tubular yellow or red flowers appear.

Unfortunately, a bloom is rarely achievable with aloes that are kept as indoors, since the plant requires nearly ideal conditions to produce flowers: lots of light, sufficient water, and the perfect temperature range. Due to these requirements (lighting for the most part), aloe flowers are usually only seen on plants grown outdoors year-round in very warm climates.

Aloe Vera Plant flowering

To give your aloe vera plant the best chance at flowering:

  • Provide it with as much light as possible, especially during spring and summer. Aloes can be kept outdoors in full sun during the summer, when temperatures are above 70°F (21°C). If nighttime temperatures threaten to drop below 60°F (16°C), bring the aloe inside or protect it with gardening cloth.

    • Note: Don’t move your aloe from indoors to full sun right away; it needs time to adjust to the intense light or it may sunburn. Allow it to sit in partial shade for about a week before moving it to a brighter location.

  • Make sure the plant is getting the right amount of water: enough to keep it from drying out, but not enough to drown it! Remember that overwatering is much more likely to kill a plant like aloe vera than underwatering.

  • Give your aloe a proper dormancy period in the winter. Aloe tend to bloom in late winter or early spring, so giving them a period of rest consisting of less frequent watering and cooler temperatures will encourage them to flower.

  • Don’t be surprised if it doesn’t flower. Despite our best efforts, indoor conditions just aren’t ideal for most aloes, so don’t be surprised if yours simply refuses to bloom and keep trying!

Aloe Vera Pest and Diseases

Aloe vera plants are most susceptible to the usual indoor plant pests, such as mealybugs and scale.

Common diseases include:

  • Root rot
  • Soft rot
  • Fungal stem rot
  • Leaf rot

Avoid overwatering to keep these conditions from developing or worsening.

Aloe Vera Varieties

Especially attractive Aloe include:

  • Tiger or Partridge-Breasted Aloe (Aloe variegata) – A compact aloe characterized by short, smooth leaves with uneven white stripes.

  • Lace Aloe (Aloe aristata) – A small plant with white-spotted, finely sawtoothed leaves.

  • Blue Aloe (Aloe glauca) – A larger aloe species with silver-blue leaves.

Aloe Vera Plant blue variety

Aloe Vera Did You Know

  • Aloe vera will decorate a kitchen shelf with quiet grace while doing double duty as a living first-aid kit. Read more about the natural health benefits of aloe vera.

  • One of aloe’s most famous uses is to soothe sunburnt skin, and it can be also used for cold sores. Planting aloe in an automated watering system like Koru will help ensure an endless supply of aloe with no effort.

  • Chareau is a light brandy made from aloe vera, a drink that can be sipped straight as a digestif, according to my bartender. However, if combined with a cocktail, it really shines.

Aloe Vera Plant did you know

Aloe Vera Summary

Aloe vera, commonly grown as a houseplant, is known for its leaves which contain a gel used on sunburns and other skin irritations. With over 300 species, this tropical succulent features fleshy lance-shape leaves with jagged edges that grow out from a basal rosette.

Given the right growing conditions, spiky flowers will appear on the end of stalks in shades of yellow, red, or orange. Young plants don’t generally flower, and aloe grown as a houseplant can take years to produce flower stalks.

Still, this fast-growing succulent will reach its mature size in three to four years and produces pups that can be repotted or given as gifts to other plant lovers. Almost no green thumb is required.

While aloe vera is coveted for its soothing skin properties, the leaves, toxic to dogs and cats, can cause vomiting, lethargy, and diarrhea. The inner gel, while purgative in nature, is generally considered safe for consumption.

When it comes to automated plant care systems, aloe vera is one of the plants that usually struggles with them, as it only require unfrequent but deep watering cycles. Only truly smart plant care systems like KORU can adapt to each plant's different needs, helping them to thrive by measuring light, temperature, humidity and soil moisture.