Plants

Complete Guide to Aloe Vera: How to Grow & Care for Aloe Plants

Read our complete guide to Aloe Vera Plants for everything you will ever need to know! Tips for planting, growing and caring for the Aloe Plant.
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Aloe vera plants are an excellent choice for an addition to your garden. These succulents do well outdoors in rockeries and flowerbeds, and they also make fantastic indoor plants as well.

The aloe vera has a lengthy history of use in folk medicine, due to its potent anti-inflammatory properties. The juice and flesh of the leaves serve well as a topical anesthetic and cooling gel. Sunburned skin soaks up aloe, stopping the pain and swelling while moisturizing the damaged skin cells.

The powerful polyphenol compounds found in aloe vera make it a fantastic natural skin treatment, and it looks magnificent in the garden as well.

Aloe Vera Information

The aloe vera is a short and stocky plant with long, thick, fleshy leaves. Some varieties have a serrated edge to keep predators at bay. The leaves fan out from the stem of the plant, reaching lengths of up to 30-inches, depending on the variety and growing conditions.

The aloe vera enjoys hot and tropical climates. It’s a reasonably drought-resistant plant, and you can find it worldwide from the Californian coastline to the tip of Africa.

When purchasing an aloe vera, you’ll need to ensure that you have an area in your garden or home that gets bright, indirect sunlight for most of the day. It’s best not to plant aloes in the full sun, as they tend to dry out, and the foliage turns yellow.

Aloe Vera Plant in Kraft Pot Planter from Amazon

Planting Aloe Vera

Aloe vera plants thrive in pots, and many gardeners choose this planting method, especially if it’s a smaller variety.

A terracotta pot makes an ideal home for an aloe vera plant, as the porous material allows the soil to dry out entirely between waterings. The weight of the container also prevents the plant from falling over when it starts to get top-heavy.

Using plastic or glazed pots isn’t ideal, as the soil might remain moist near the bottom of the roots, resulting in the onset of root rot in the plant. Always ensure that your container has at least two drainage holes in the bottom of the pot, the more, the merrier.

Baby Aloe Vera Plants from Amazon

Growing aloe vera in air pots is ideal. Material air pots have porous sides that allow the soil to dry out quickly while providing more air to the root system. As a result, your aloe grows faster, reaching its full glory far sooner than in traditional terracotta pots.

Select a container for your aloe that’s as deep as it is wide, and if you’re buying a mature or juvenile plant from a nursery or garden center, make sure it’s deep enough to cover the entire stem of the plant, as well as the root ball.

Aloe vera plants like to grow in a well-draining soil-free potting mix that removes all the moisture between waterings. Choose a blend suitable for cacti and other succulents when selecting your growing medium.

An excellent soilless mix contains coarse sand, lava rock, and perlite. While aloe vera plants are reasonably hardy, overwatering may lead to the development of root rot that slows the growth of the plant, causing wilting and possible death of the aloe vera.

Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix, Perfect for Aloe Plants

To ensure your growing medium dries out between waterings, add a layer of clay pellets or gravel to the bottom of the container before you add the growing medium.

While some gardeners say this step is not necessary, we like to use it as an additional precautionary measure to keep the aloe vera’s roots dry and happy between waterings.

Repotting Your aloe Vera Plant

Aloe Vera grows as large as the container permits. While it has no issues with crowding out a pot, sooner or later, you’ll have to repot it, or it will eventually break through the pot, causing cracks in the sides of the growing container.

If your aloe vera is starting to get leggy, then follow this quick guide to repotting the plant.

Prepare the Pot

Select your pot and rinse it out if you’re using another pot from the garden. Let the pot dry out properly before adding your 1-inch layer of gravel of clay pellets to the bottom of the pot.

Make sure you cover the drainage holes with screens to ensure pellets or gravel don’t fall out of the bottom of the pot after watering. Use a wire screed or another screen that allows water to pass through unhindered.

Aloe Vera Growing in Pots
Aloe Vera Growing in Pots

Prepare the Aloe Vera Plant

Remove the aloe pot from its current container. If your aloe is in a pot with a curve or lip at the top, you might have to break open the pot to access the root system. However, if the plant comes out of the pot easily, then shake out any remaining soil that’s on the roots.

If the plant has any “pups,” remove them at this stage before planting (more on pups later). If your aloe vera has a long stem, trim it down before repotting.

Trim the Stem if Necessary

Trimming is not always necessary when repotting, and it poses a risk to the plant. However, if you need to cut it back, leave as much of the stem on the plant as possible. After trimming, take the aloe vera and place the bare plant in a room with indirect sunlight.

After a few days, a callous will start to form around the area of the stem you trimmed back. After you see signs of the callous forming, it’s time to repot the plant.

Pot the Aloe Vera Plant

Fill your new pot just under halfway with your potting mix. Place the plant in the center of the pot, and fill in the rest of the area around the roots with your potting mix. Remember to leave a ½-inch from the surface of the soil to the rim of the container.

The bottom leaves will rest just above the soil’s surface, and then press down lightly to push out any air pockets in the growing medium. Don’t water the aloe vera after planting, as the plant needs around a week to 10-days for its roots to settle in the new container.

Using this potting strategy ensures that your plant doesn’t suffer root rot while it’s dealing with the stress of the transplant. Until the aloe vera shows signs of the roots recovering, keep it inside your home in an area that receives bright, indirect sunlight.

Caring for Your Aloe Vera Plant

Placing the pot in a southern or western window provides your aloe vera with the ideal lighting conditions.

Those aloes planted in low-light conditions often start to grow leggy. Aloe vera plants will grow well in temperatures between 55 and 80°F. These conditions make most apartments and homes the ideal indoor growing environment for the plant.

The plant will survive outdoors between the months of May through September, and it will last all-year-round in growing environments that don’t get any frost, such as Southern California and Nevada.

The plant will survive outdoors between the months of May through September
The plant will survive outdoors between the months of May through September

Water your aloe vera deeply, but only once every other week. It’s vital that you don’t let your aloe vera sit in water, as this will start the development of root rot that might kill the plant. Aloe vera plants don’t enjoy getting their “feet wet.”

Fertilize your aloe vera plant once a month using an all-purpose liquid plant fertilizer. Make sure you dilute the recommended dose by at least half when feeding your aloe vera plant.

Planting Aloe Vera Pups

Mature aloe vera plants will start to produce off-shoots from the main stem, known as “pups.” It’s possible to harvest these pups from the stem and transplant them to make new aloe vera plants.

Use pruning shears to separate the pups from the stem and make sure that you leave at least –inch of stem on the off-shoot when harvesting.

Keep the pups out of the soil mix for a few days to allow for callouses to form, and the pup to heal. During this time, let the pups sit in a warm region of your home with access to bright, indirect sunlight.

After the callouses form, plant them in an individual container and leave them dry for a week to 10-days before watering deeply.

Flowering Your aloe Vera Plant

Your mature aloe vera’s will sometime produce a flower spike from the center of the plant. This spike is also known as an “inflorescence,” sprouting plenty of tubular red or yellow blossoms that look spectacular in the later summer months.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to get indoor aloe plants to produce the inflorescence, let alone flower. The aloe will only flower when it senses ideal growing conditions, and it only usually blooms in the wild or indigenous gardens.

However, if you live in regions of the world where aloes grow naturally in the wild, there’s a good chance you can get your aloe to flower if you provide it with the right care and maintenance.

Pests and Diseases Affecting Aloe Plants

Aloe vera plants are reasonably resistant to disease, but indoor growers might find some issues with mealybugs and scale.

Some of the more common disease affecting aloe plants include

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

Avoid overwatering your aloe vera plant to prevent these issues from occurring.

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Hollie Carter

Hollie is a life-long gardener, having started helping her Dad work on their yard when she was just 5. Since then she has gone on to develop a passion for growing vegetables & fruit in her garden. She has an affinity with nature and loves to share her knowledge gained over a lifetime with readers online. Hollie has written for a number of publications and is now the resident garden blogger here at GardenBeast. Contact her at hollie@gardenbeast.com or follow on twitter https://twitter.com/greenholliec

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