How to Grow and Care for Aloe Vera Plants

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Are you wanting to grow aloe vera plants? Aloe plants are quite self-sufficient, making them an excellent choice for beginner gardeners. Aloe vera care is pretty simple, so it’s not hard to grow an aloe plant at all.

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! And you can learn how to make aloe vera gel from fresh leaves and how to use aloe gel for skin and hair.

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 outdoors or inside. 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 your plant is growing indoors, it will still need those 6 hours of sunlight. Make 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.

Best Potting Soil for Aloe

If you want something that comes in a bag, the best soil to plant aloe in is Generic Succulent Plant Soil. Because it’s a desert plant, aloe needs soil that doesn’t hold water well. Components like gravel and sand can actually help.

You can also make it your own soil. Get a bag of regular top soil and mix it 50/50 with pine bark or coco coir. Either of those will act like gravel by reducing how much water the soil retains.

Water Your Aloe Plant Every Two to Three Weeks

Aloe vera doesn’t need as much water as most other plants since it’s native to desert regions. These succulent plants have 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 Sunlight Every Day, Especially for Houseplants

As mentioned above, direct sunlight is an irreplaceable part of caring for an aloe vera. While the aloe vera plant care routine is pretty easy, sometimes getting enough sunlight to an indoor houseplant is not.

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.

Fertilizing Your Aloe Vera Plant

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!

How to Repot Aloe Vera

One aspect of plant care is repotting. Sometimes plants outgrow their old planters, and aloe is no exception.

To repot an aloe vera, start by removing the plant from its current pot. Allow the soil to dry completely, as this will make it easier to remove. Gently loosen the roots and remove any old, dead leaves.

Place the plant in a new, clean pot that is only slightly larger than the old one. Fill the pot with fresh potting mix and water well. Allow the plant to drain before placing it in a sunny spot.

Learning to Care for Aloe Vera

Now that you know all you need to know about aloe vera plant care, 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!