If you’re searching for a striking yet simple houseplant to care for, look no further than the aloe vera plant! This member of the succulent family provides a pop of spiky green in addition to its medicinal properties. Read on to find out if an aloe vera plant is right for you!
What Are Aloe Vera Plants?
Aloe vera is from the Aloe genus and is a succulent species. They typically have little to no visible stems above the soil – their thick, fleshy leaves extend upward and slightly outward from the base of the plant. Up close, you’ll notice that the edges of the leaves are serrated and a bit sharp.
Don’t let that trick you, though, because the innards of these bright green plants have been used as a therapeutic gel for thousands of years. While the outside of aloe leaves are spiky and harsh to the touch, the contents within can be used as a soothing, cooling gel used to treat burns, scrapes, and dry skin.
Like most other succulents, aloe vera prefers a warm, mostly dry, and brightly lit environment. They hail from tropical and desert environments where the temperatures are high, the soil is sandy, and the rainfall is minimal to moderate. Kept inside under proper plant care, aloe vera plants can thrive.
Are Aloe Vera Plants Easy to Care For?
Yes! Aloe vera plants are exceedingly easy to care for. As long as you make sure they get the right amount of sunlight and water, aloe thrives without a human fussing over it. For this reason, aloe vera plants are exceedingly popular with first-time or busy plant owners.
Can You Grow an Aloe Vera Plant Indoors?
Yes! Under the right conditions, aloe vera can flourish indoors just as well as it can outdoors. Aloe vera needs to be in a brightly lit room near the windows to get enough sunlight. Additionally, it doesn’t need to be watered all too often. Aloe plants make beautiful, tropical house plants and decorations.
What are the Benefits of Aloe Vera Plants?
This plant has many benefits. In addition to being a low-maintenance house plant, aloe vera has self-regenerating properties. When you snip off an aloe leaf, it can be repotted or propagated in water, where it may flourish into a thriving new plant. People often give their friends and neighbors clippings from their aloe plants to use at home.
The gift of an aloe leaf goes beyond a cool way to share and grow plants amongst friends, though. Inside each aloe leaf, there’s an abundance of natural aloe vera gel. This soothing compound of plant materials is anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, hydrating, pain-reducing, and has antioxidants.
When you think of aloe, you probably think of sunburns. That’s because aloe vera’s cooling, hydrating properties work wonders to soothe burns of all kinds! Beyond sunburns, you can apply aloe vera gel to a burn from a curling iron or from grabbing a pan without an oven mitt.
Aloe vera is also a common ingredient in hydrating conditioners and body lotions. Its texture allows it to easily soak in and moisturize skin and hair. It may also be able to help alleviate pain related to scrapes and bruises! Aloe vera truly is a beneficial house plant to have around.
How to Care for an Aloe Vera Plant
Before you buy an aloe vera plant, there are a few things to consider about whether or not you can make a good home for them. If you’re interested in growing aloe outdoors, you’ll need to live in a warm, mostly dry climate with lots of sunlight to do so. If you’re growing indoors, it’s much easier.
As we mentioned, the biggest consideration is going to be sunlight. Beyond that, the watering schedule, pruning practices, and pot will all play a role in the health of your aloe plant. Let’s look more closely at these factors and go over the best conditions for raising aloe vera.
Finding the Right Pot
Finding the right pot is crucial for all types of plants. For succulents like aloe vera, terracotta or other porous clays make the best pot materials since they dry out quickly and easily. If you use a plastic or glazed pot, moisture will get trapped inside and could overwhelm your aloe with water.
While shopping for the right pot, keep in mind that you’ll want to choose one with drainage holes in the bottom. This will also help avoid your aloe sitting in too much water. Placing rocks at the bottom of the pot to encourage drainage isn’t necessary for aloe that has the proper potting environment.
Last but not least, try to choose a pot that’s as wide as it is tall. Aloe vera’s roots are thick and require a decent amount of space to spread out within a pot. If the aloe plant you buy has visible stems, you’re going to need a tall enough pot to completely bury them below the surface.
Choosing the Right Soil
To help mimic the aloe vera plant’s natural environment, it’s recommended that you use a well-draining potting mix intended for succulents or cacti. These are typically sandy and somewhat gravely. The best potting mix for aloe plants will contain things like lava rock, perlite, and chunks of bark.
Do not try to grow aloe vera in classic gardening soil – it won’t go very well. Typical gardening soil is meant to retain moisture, which works well for many other types of plants. Aloe and other succulents, however, retain moisture in their leaves. Gardening soil can easily lead to root rot for aloe vera.
Watering an Aloe Vera Plant
If there’s one difficult thing about caring for an aloe plant, it’s making sure you don’t overwater it. In general, you should plan on watering your aloe vera about once every two to three weeks in the spring and summer. During the fall and winter, you may only need to water your aloe once a month.
To be sure that it’s time to water your aloe vera plant, you’ll want to wait until the top third of its soil is dry. For instance, if your aloe is planted in nine inches of soil, you’ll want to wait until the top three inches are dry. You can test for this by poking a wooden skewer or toothpick into the soil.
When it is time to water your aloe vera, make sure to give them a good, hefty drink. The soil should feel damp after watering – the water shouldn’t flow directly out of the drainage holes. If most of it does, that’s a sign your soil is too dry. If just a bit comes out, that’s a good sign that you’re on the right track.
Placement and Lighting
When choosing a spot for your indoor aloe plant, you’ll want to find somewhere with very bright, ideally in direct, sunlight. Southern or western-facing windows are typically best for these light-loving succulents. Aloe vera generally doesn’t do well in a low-light environment.
If your heart is set on raising an aloe plant but you don’t have access to a lot of sunlight in your home, you can use artificial light to grow these fantastic plants. However, artificial lights tend to leave a big carbon footprint. If your low-light home needs some green, consider a pothos or monstera, instead.
Pruning Your Aloe Vera Plant
To cut off a mature leaf, also known as an “offset,” use pruning shears, a sharp knife, or scissors and snip it near the base. You should try to leave a bit of the stem on the bottom of the offset if you can. Then, leave the offset out of water for a couple of days until a callus forms where it was cut.
Once the callus forms, you can pot the leave in the same potting soil as the mother plant and place it in a well-lit area of your home. Homemade aloe plants make great gifts for friends, neighbors, and houseguests. Simply snip, wait, repot, and you’ve got an adorable and personalized gift to give!
Should I Cut Off the Brown Tips of My Aloe Vera Plant?
If the tips of your aloe vera plant are turning brown, you can absolutely gently cut them off. Just like a starfish can regrow a severed limb, aloe plants can regrow severed leaves! Use scissors or pruning shears to snip the brown tips, then wait and watch as your plant begins to regenerate itself!
Humidity and Temperature
Aloe vera plants prefer warmer temperatures and moderate humidity. They generally thrive in 55° to 80° climates and around 40% humidity. If you’re growing aloe outdoors, be sure to bring them inside on cold nights and during the fall and winter to protect them from frost.
Feeding an Aloe Vera Plant
Like most succulents, aloe vera plants don’t typically need fertilizer to thrive. When you first plant or repot them, you can dust the stem with a rooting hormone powder that will encourage healthy growth. Rooting hormone can be found at most gardening stores – just ask one of their friendly employees!
If you think your aloe plant may need a little extra help, you can add succulent fertilizer to its pot once a year during the spring. It’s recommended that you use a water-based, phosphorous-heavy fertilizer that has been diluted to dull its strength. Aloe really doesn’t need much fertilizer at all, if any.
How Big Can Aloe Vera Plants Grow?
A well-cared-for, healthy aloe plant can grow up to three feet tall! Though on average, most aloe plants grow to be about one to two feet in height. They’re narrower at the base than at the tips of the leaves, but the widest part at the top is typically the same measurement as the height of the plant.
Because of their size, aloe plants don’t make the best bedside table plants. They generally go well on end tables or windowsills while they’re young, and can transition to a bigger pot on the floor as they grow.
Common Aloe Vera Plant Care Issues
Providing enough sunlight and being cautious of overwatering are the two most common aloe vera plant care issues. Overwatering easily leads to root rot, which is when the roots become oversaturated with water for too long and begin to turn black. Untreated, root rot can kill plants in a matter of weeks.
Overwatering can also be the cause behind browning leaves. If your aloe vera is overwatered, you’re probably going to want to repot it right away. Then, be sure to follow the recommendations for watering your aloe. Wait until the top third of the soil has dried out before watering again.
If your aloe vera isn’t getting enough light, you’ll likely notice its leaves becoming pale and losing their structure. The quick solution for this is to find a more well-lit area to place your aloe plant. If it seems really dire, you may even want to consider moving them outside for a few days to get even more light.
How Do I Know if My Aloe Vera Plant is Dying?
You’ll be able to notice pretty quickly if your aloe vera plant isn’t doing very well. If its normally thick, lush, and bright green leaves begin to droop, lose structure, fade in color, or turn brown, your aloe is in trouble. Check its roots for root rot and repot accordingly to attempt to save your aloe vera.
Final Thoughts – Aloe Vera Plant Care
All in all, aloe vera is a fantastic plant for those who want a fun pop of living color in their homes without committing to daily maintenance. If you have a room that gets an abundance of light and enough willpower to stop yourself from overwatering, you too can care for aloe vera plants.