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How to Care for an Aloe Vera Plant

Aloe plants are quite self-sufficient, making them an excellent choice for beginner gardeners. They also provide numerous health benefits. However, there’s a handful of must-know instructions to keep your aloe plant from losing its compact shape and beauty. The good news is you’re about to discover everything you need to know about the process!

To care for an aloe vera plant, water it every two to three weeks, provide at least 6 hours of daily sunlight, and fertilize it annually. Potted aloe vera plants should be fertilized monthly and inspected for root rot. Trim the brown tips off your aloe plants to encourage new growth.

Throughout this article, you’ll be learning the step-by-step process to care for your aloe vera plant to keep it in its best condition. We’ll also talk about a few common mistakes and how you can avoid them to prevent long-term damage. Enjoy!

Indoor or Outdoor?

Indoor aloe vera plant in pot

The first thing to decide is whether you’ll be growing your plant indoors or out. If you’re in USDA zones 8-11, outdoors is an option. Otherwise, you could possibly keep it outside in summer, but you’d need to be able to bring it in during cold weather.

If you’re keeping it indoors, it will still need those 6 hours of sunlight, to be sure to have a window it can sit in front of. Or you can get a grow lamp with a timer to give it the light it needs.

Water the Plant Every Two to Three Weeks

Succulents don’t need as much water as most other plants since they’ve native to desert regions. They’ve adapted to drought conditions, so it’s important that you don’t over-water them. Too much hydration can develop root rot and a multitude of other issues. The Farmer’s Almanac recommends watering your aloe vera plant once every two to three weeks.

In the winter, when there’s more humidity in the air, you can reduce the water cycles to once every four weeks (or once every month). Your aloe vera plant needs more sunlight than hydration, but not enough water will prevent the leaves from absorbing enough nutrients and growing.

Aloe vera plants are prized for their natural health benefits for hair and skin, which are derived from the gel found in the leaves. Without proper watering, the gel will be dry or non-existent. Watering the plant on the previously mentioned schedule will yield thick, gooey gel that’s even better than store bought aloe vera gel for hair and skin.

Provide Optimal Sunlight Every Day

As mentioned above, sunlight is an irreplaceable part of caring for an aloe vera. Aloe plants should be exposed to sunlight throughout the day to promote optimal growth, high-quality gel, and root depth. According to NYBG, an aloe vera plant needs at least six hours of sunlight every day, but it can handle much longer exposure.

If you live in a cloudy region or the winter’s overcast weather rolls around, you might notice your aloe vera plants don’t grow as much. While they might perform less than expected, aloe plants typically go dormant when they aren’t getting enough sunlight. Following a monthly watering routine combats this issue, but it won’t completely replace its sunlight requirements.

Potted aloe plants are much easier to manage because you can move them around to follow the sunlight. That being said, artificial UV lights can provide enough rays to keep your aloe vera plant growing throughout the year in any weather conditions.

Fertilize Your Aloe Vera Plant Routinely

Aloe vera needs to be fertilized, but not nearly as much as other plants. You can add fertilizer to a potted aloe plant once every month at most, and only during spring and summer. Make sure you remove the top layer of fertilizer before adding a new layer. This process can prevent your plant from getting dehydrated or having the proper soil-fertilizer ratio.

If you have an aloe vera plant in your garden, you only need to fertilize it once per year. Adding too much fertilizer to a gardened aloe plant is unnecessary because the plant retains and absorbs the nutrients for a long time. Much like the previous example, it’s best to aerate the soil before adding more fertilizer the following year.

For fertilizer, I use and recommend Milorganite for pretty much everything. It’s a slow release fertilizer that won’t hurt animals who go digging through your plant dirt. But if might be a little too slow for a plant that gets watered as infrequently as aloe vera. So you may prefer a liquid fertilizer like The Grow Co’s Organic Succulent & Cactus Plant Food.

Trim the Brown Tips Off the Aloe Vera Plant

Aloe plants often experience brown or yellow lead tips, especially if they’re always in dry heat. Bright sunshine is crucial to their survival and longevity, but too much of it will remove some water from the fragile ends of each leaf.

SFGate says aloe vera plants can be pruned by snipping off the tips with either a knife or shears, depending on the plant’s size. Fortunately, you can cut the leaves straight across rather than following a special pattern or worrying about exposing the gel. Aloe plants will recover quickly by naturally sealing the leaves.

You can also remove mini aloe plants if they start growing around the base of the main plant. Small plants will steal some of the water and root space, limiting the main aloe vera plant from growing enough. Feel free to pot the mini aloe plant for indoor growth!

Inspect Potted Plants for Root Rot

Root rot is quite common in potted succulents. People typically add too much water because they’re used to watering other plants, but succulents don’t absorb a lot of moisture. Root rot is caused by pooling water that invites gnats, flies, spiders, mildew, and mold. All of these issues can destroy the plant’s root system and stop it from growing.

You can look for root rot by lifting the aloe vera plant from the pot every couple of months. Check the roots to ensure they’re growing and healthy. If they look black, fuzzy, slimy, or smell off, it’d be best to transfer the plant to a new pot of fresh soil and fertilizer.

Limit the water sessions to one time less per month or use half the amount of water you typically add. You’d be impressed by how well aloe vera handles less water!

Conclusion

Now that you know everything there is about caring for an aloe vera plant, you can ensure yours looks as good as possible. Aloe plants are adaptive and can grow in a variety of environments, but it’s best to ensure they have all their needs met. Remember, succulents don’t need nearly as much water as most plants!