Aloe vera plants are easy to care for. They make wonderful houseplants, or you can grow them outside. In this post, I will show you all you need to know about aloe vera care, including water, sunlight, soil, fertilizer, and more!
There is a common misconception that aloe vera is difficult to grow, but it’s actually quite easy. The key is to neglect it. Yes, that’s right, just ignore it.
Well, I mean, you can’t ignore it forever. But the biggest mistake people make is giving them too much attention, which usually results in what I like to call “killing it with kindness”.
With the proper (neglectful) care, aloe vera plants will grow and thrive for many years, and even decades.
In this detailed guide, I will show you everything you need to know to successfully care for your aloe vera, from watering, light, and soil, to pest control, fertilizer, and much more!
Aloe Vera Quick Care Overview
|Scientific name:||Aloe Vera|
|Common names:||Medicinal Aloe|
|Flowers:||Yellow, can bloom year round|
|Light:||Full sun to partial shade|
|Water:||Allow soil to dry between waterings, do not overwater|
|Humidity:||Little to none|
|Fertilizer:||General purpose plant food in spring and summer|
|Soil:||Fast-draining, sandy soil|
|Common pests:||Mealybugs, scale|
Information About Aloe Vera Plants
Aloe vera (also known as medicinal aloe) is a popular plant that is best known for the healing qualities of the gel. They are very common, and aloe vera is just one of hundreds of different types of aloe plants.
Whether you want to grow aloe vera for it’s medicinal benefits, or you simply love the look of the plant, it’s definitely one that you will be able to enjoy for many years to come!
My aloe vera is one of the oldest plants in my collection (almost 20 years old!), and over the years it has grown to be huge. I bought it as a tiny start that was barely large enough for the four inch pot it came in.
How Fast Does Aloe Vera Grow?
They can grow pretty fast outdoors in a sunny garden, but are much slower when kept indoors as houseplants.
If you want your potted aloe plant to grow faster, then put it outside during the summer (just make sure the pot has drainage holes!).
Aloe Vera Plant Benefits
Most people are already very familiar with the medicinal and healing qualities of aloe vera plants.
These days you’ll find the gel in everything from skin and haircare items, to drinks, supplements, and food products.
You can harvest the leaves and gel from your plant to use it on minor burns and cuts, and even to make your own soaps, lotions, and other skin care products if you want.
Another great benefit of growing aloe vera as a houseplant is that it helps to purify the air in our homes.
Now we know why aloe vera is such a popular plant these days, and everyone wants to grow their own (me included)!
Related Post: How To Store Aloe Vera (Leaves Or Gel)
Where To Grow Aloe Vera
Though commonly sold as houseplants, aloe veras are actually perennial succulents. Whether you choose to grow them indoors or outside depends on where you live.
Growing Aloe Vera Plants Outdoors
Aloe vera plants are hardy down to zone 9a, and grow best outdoors in arid climates. Plant them in a location where the soil is well-draining, and doesn’t get a lot of rain.
Even if you live somewhere colder than that, you can move your potted aloe vera to a sunny spot outside during the summer months, as long as the container has drainage holes.
But be very careful when you first move it outside. An aloe plant that has been growing inside all winter will be sensitive to direct sunlight.
So take care to slowly acclimate it to the full sun, or the leaves could burn (it’s kinda ironic that aloe vera leaves can get sunburned, don’t you think?).
Aloe Vera Care Indoors
If you live in a cold climate like I do, or somewhere tropical, then you must grow your aloe vera indoors during the winter or rainy months.
For best results, place it in a sunny, south-facing window. The good news is that aloes go dormant during the winter months, so they don’t require as much care as they do during the spring and summer.
Though they can be kept indoors year round, they will benefit from being outside during the hot and sunny months. Just be sure to bring it back indoors before freezing temperatures arrive in the fall.
Aloe Vera Plant Care & Growing Instructions
The good news is that aloe vera plants are super easy to grow, and there’s really not much to it. Yours might just do better if you ignore it, they thrive on neglect.
But, there are a few things you need to do to keep it growing its best. Follow these aloe vera plant care instructions for best results.
How Often To Water Aloe Vera
The most common mistake people make when it comes to aloe vera plant care is overwatering. Consistent overwatering is their number one killer!
Overwatering will cause root and stem rot, eventually killing the whole plant from the bottom up. Oh boy, we definitely don’t want that to happen!
To avoid that, allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings. Stick your finger one inch into the soil to make sure it’s completely dry before watering your aloe vera again.
If you struggle with overwatering, I highly recommend getting a soil moisture gauge to help you figure out when to water your aloe vera.
Aloe vera plants go into a state of dormancy during the winter, and mature specimens won’t need much moisture (if any) during that time.
I only give my large aloe vera plants a small amount of water 2 or 3 times during the entire winter, smaller plants will need it a bit more often.
Related Post: How To Water A Succulent Plant
How Much Sun Does An Aloe Plant Need?
The second most important thing about aloe vera plant care is proper lighting. They grow the best when given lots of light.
If they don’t get enough light, they will become tall and leggy over time. This can be especially challenging when growing aloe vera indoors.
A south facing window is the ideal spot for an indoor aloe plant, but they also grow well under artificial lights. If you don’t have enough sunlight in your home, then you should definitely get a grow light.
Outdoors, they will grow the best in the full sun. But they will tolerate a partial shade location, especially in extremely hot climates.
Related Post: How To Make DIY Aloe Vera Gel At Home
Best Potting Soil For Aloe Vera Plants
The best soil for aloe vera is one that drains very quickly, and doesn’t hold water. A basic potting soil made for succulents works great, or you could use a gritty mix.
I like to make my own, using a mix of perlite or pumice, coarse sand, and regular potting soil, which tends to be cheaper than buying the commercial stuff.
Related Post: How To Make Your Own Succulent Soil (With Recipe!)
If you plan to repot it, make sure to use a container with drainage holes in the bottom. Planters made out of terracotta or clay are the best for growing aloe vera, and will wick water out of the soil, helping it dry out faster.
Best Fertilizer For Aloe Vera
Aloe vera plants don’t really need to be fertilized. But like most plants, they will benefit from being fed once in a while during their active growing season (spring through summer).
I recommend using organic products on your aloe vera, rather than the chemical stuff – especially if you plan to use the gel.
A general purpose organic succulent fertilizer will work great. Otherwise, you can use a pre-made compost tea, or buy compost tea bags and brew your own.
Aloe plants go into a state of dormancy in the winter, and will hardly grow at all. So, don’t feed it during the fall and winter months.
Fertilizing your aloe vera plant a few times during the growing season can also help to encourage flowers.
Even though they can bloom, it’s very rare to see an aloe vera flower on plants that are growing indoors. I’ve had mine for almost 20 years, and it has never flowered (I wish it would, that would be amazing!).
Aloe Plant Insect Pest Control
Healthy aloe vera plants rarely have issues with insect pests, but sometimes mealybugs or scale can attack a plant.
For small pest infestations, simply dipping a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol, and using it to remove the bugs is usually all you need to do to get rid of them.
Organic neem oil, insecticidal soap or a horticultural oil spray work very well to control larger outbreaks of bugs.
But aloes can be sensitive to certain sprays. So, be sure to test anything you use on a small part of a leaf before spraying the whole plant.
Tips For Propagating Aloe Vera Plants
It’s easiest to propagate aloe vera plants by division, but they can be grown from stem cuttings as well (which can be much more difficult).
Get my step-by-step instructions for how to propagate aloe vera by division here.
If your aloe vera plant has grown huge, and has a long stem at the bottom (and you’re feeling brave), you could try taking one large stem cutting.
Allow the wound to cure (dry out) for several days so it calluses over, then dip it into rooting hormone, and stick it in a dry sand/perlite soil mix. Hold off on watering until new roots form.
Troubleshooting Aloe Vera Plant Care Problems
The main problems that most people have with aloe vera plant care are due to overwatering or insufficient lighting. So make sure you’re familiar with all the care tips above to avoid any issues.
Here are some common problems you may run into, and what to do about them.
If the stem is completely mushy that means it’s been overwatered, and now it’s rotting at the base.
Cut the stem just above the rotted section, and try rooting it. Make sure you cut off all of the rot, or it will just continue to spread.
Brown Mushy Leaves
The first thing to do is check the stem to make sure the main stem is firm and healthy. Gently squeeze it around the base.
If the stem looks good, but a leaf is brown and mushy (rotting), trim it off at the point where it’s attached to the stem. Then be sure to slow down on watering.
Dried Brown Leaves
If the leaves are drying out and shriveling up, that’s a sign it’s getting too dry (yes, it is possible to under water an aloe vera plant!) and could use more moisture. Dry leaves can also be trimmed from the plant.
The Plant Is Very Tall & Thin
This means it hasn’t been getting enough light. Move it to a sunny window, or add a grow light to give it more exposure (see the section above about sunlight requirements for more details).
Brown Leaf Tips
Most of the time this is caused by under watering, but could also be from sun scorch. If the leaves are thin, then watering it a bit more often will prevent brown leaf tips.
FAQs About Growing Aloe Vera
In this section, I will answer some of the most frequently asked questions about caring for aloe vera plants. If you can’t find your answer here, then ask it in the comments below
How often should aloe vera be watered?
Instead of watering aloe vera on a set schedule, you should always check the soil first. Stick your finger one inch into the soil, and only add water when it’s completely dry.
Should I cut the brown tips off my aloe plant?
That is up to you. Leaving the brown tips on your aloe vera won’t hurt the plant. But, if you don’t like how they look, you can prune them off at any time.
What does an overwatered aloe vera look like?
Unfortunately, the first sign of an overwatered aloe vera plant is a mushy, rotting stem or leaves. If the leaves or stem turn black or dark brown, and are mushy to the touch, then you know the plant has been overwatered.
But before it gets to this point, you can check the soil to make sure it is completely dry before watering the plant.
How do I know if my aloe vera plant is healthy?
A healthy aloe vera plant has thick, firm leaves that stand up tall. They should also be blueish-green in color (though it’s normal for the leaves to turn yellowish or orange when they are grown in the full sun).
Growing aloe vera is easy, and they thrive on neglect. The make excellent home or office plants. Once you get the hang of these simple aloe vera plant care techniques, your plant will grow for years to come. If you’re wondering where to buy aloe vera, check your local garden center, or you order one online.
Do you struggle to keep your indoor plants alive during the coldest months of the year? Then you need a copy of my Winter Houseplant Care eBook. It will show you everything you need to know to keep your houseplants thriving year round. Download your copy today!
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Share your aloe vera plant care and growing tips in the comments section below.
My Aloe Has bloomed twice for me. A tall stem comes up with white flowers on it and so beautiful.
I put it on our deck in the summer time and bring it in to our inside in the winter. One time I had some baby spiders from leaving it outside. haha
We live in Illinois.
Amy Andrychowicz says
Awesome to hear your aloe has bloomed for you before, so fun!
Debra Woolcox says
My Aloe looks good, but the stems are a little soft. The soil is dry. Should I take the Aloe out of the pot, check the roots and cut off any brown ones, then repot in fresh soil, and wait a few days to water it?
Amy Andrychowicz says
There’s no need to repot your aloe unless it has completely outgrown the pot. If the soil won’t hold moisture for very long, that could be what’s causing the leaves to soften, and also a sign that it’s pot-bound. The best time of the year to repot it is in the spring, so I would wait until then.
I got a moisture gauge for my indoor, small aloe plant- because I am ethier over or under watering…
The steam seems strong but the leaves seem limp and almost dry? like there’s spots that don’t have any gel innards.
Should I be letting the gauge get to 1(red zone) before re-watering?
When I re-watered with the gauge it was at 1 jumped to 7-8(green) but was back down to 2 or 3 within a couple hours… did I not give enough water? Should I add more or just leave it?
Sorry I am a complete newbie!
Amy Andrychowicz says
As long as you have the same gauge as I recommend in the article, it should read between 1-3 (in the red zone) before you water again. Since the reading was so different in just a few short hours, it’s likely the soil isn’t evenly moist, and that’s normal since you just watered it because it hadn’t fully soaked in yet. Brown tips are an indication that it hasn’t gotten enough moisture over time, and that problem will eventually go away once you get the hang of how much it needs. You can just prune off the dead tips, since those won’t grow back.
Yes I did get the gage you recommended!
So after I water what zone/number should it be in once the soil has gotten evenly moist?
Thank you for your help!
Amy Andrychowicz says
You don’t need to worry about using the moisture gauge after watering, it’s just a tool you use so you know when it’s time to water. For Aloes, when the gauge reads close to the 1-2 range, it’s time to water. To do that, pour it over the top of the soil until it starts to flow out of the drainage holes, then stop and let it drain away completely. Then check it every few weeks after that to see when it’s time for more.