How To Care for an Aloe Vera
Aloe vera plants are a lovely kind of succulent that are easy to care for, have medicinal properties, and provide the perfect little pop of green for any corner of your home. We love our Aloe vera plants just as much as you do, so we have provided you with all of the information you should need to keep a happy, healthy plant!
These plants prefer bright, direct sunlight.
They will live fine with sparse, indirect sun, however their growth will slow dramatically, and their leaves will not grow as thick or plump. I keep my Aloe plant in a west-facing window that gets three or four hours of direct, warm sun every day, and it is thriving! Also, beware to keep it out of direct sun all day long. Sometimes, too much direct sun exposure can cause the leaves of your Aloe to burn, especially if it is moved from a shady spot directly to a sunny spot with no time for the plant to acclimate. If this begins to happen, simply give it a little more shade and the plant will recover just fine. This plant is a sun-lover though, so if you aren’t sure, I would err on the side of more sun exposure.
It is best to use a well draining, slightly sandy soil.
Aloe vera plants really are not very picky plants when it comes to soil. You can use a potting mix specific to cactus and succulents, or you can also mix a little extra perlite in with your standard potting mix. In general, your Aloe does not like sitting in wet soil, so as long as your soil drains well, you should be fine!
Generally, watering once every two weeks is just fine.
Remember, your plant is a kind of succulent, so it likes to suck up all the water it can and store the water in its leaves. However, if there is more water in the soil than it can suck up, its roots will just sit in the soggy soil. When this happens, root rot becomes an all too likely outcome. This is why we plant them in well-draining soil, to help avoid the chance of developing root rot. If your Aloe is over-watered, its leaves might start to turn a brownish-red color. If this starts to happen, simply avoid watering until it is completely dried out. Keep in mind, during the winter months, your plant will enter a state of dormancy, and will need much less water than during the summer.
If your plant doesn’t seem to be draining or drying out quickly, decrease the amount and frequency that you water. I have a very large Aloe vera that was not potted in the best soil, but it is extremely difficult to re-pot. So, I simply water it once every 3-4 weeks, depending on how much sun it is getting, and it remains a happy Aloe. Also, I always stick my fingers in the dirt before watering to see if I can feel any moisture beneath the surface. If the soil seems moist at all, I avoid watering, as it likely has even more moisture sitting deeper than I can feel.
If you are ever in doubt, it is best to water less. If the leaves start to look a little parched and withered, it is easy to give your plant some more water. But if you water too much right off the bat, your plant could take weeks to dry out, increasing the likelihood of your plant developing root rot. And once this happens it is extremely difficult to combat and you risk loosing your entire plant.
Temperature and Humidity
Aloe vera plants do not require humid environments, and prefer temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
If your Aloe vera plant is an indoor plant only, you have nothing to worry about here. Aloe vera grows very well in dry, arid climates, as they do not need much humidity at all, and the temperature inside your house should never drop below a level that your plant is intolerable to. This type of plant is also a lover of sun and heat, so it is unlikely that your house would ever get too hot for your plants liking as well.
If you put your Aloe plant outside, however, it would be advisable to bring it indoors as soon as temperatures start dropping below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. I have seen these plants tolerate as low as 50 degrees, so if you forget it outside on a chilly fall evening, it won’t kill your plant, but it definitely will stress it out.
They can range anywhere from a couple inches to a couple feet!
Usually these plants stay a manageable size, ranging anywhere from a couple inches tall when they are babies, to 1-2 feet (tall and wide) when they reach a mature stage. In the most ideal environment, your Aloe can take 3-4 years to grow from a pup into a mature plant, though it can often take longer than this.
As your Aloe does grow and mature, it will tend to lean and grow towards its light source. To keep your plant stable and growing upright, rotate it every couple months, or whenever you notice it starting to lean.
Simply move the pup from one pot into a new, smaller one!
You will know if your Aloe plant is happy and healthy, because babies will start popping up through the soil around the mother plant! It is fine to leave these babies, or if you want to remove them, simply wait until the pup is around 4-5 inches tall and has at least three leaves. Your new Aloe baby is not attached to the mother plant, so gently dig it out of its current pot, making sure not to harm the mother plant in the process. With my Aloe babies, I like to use an old spoon rather than a shovel or garden spade, as a spoon is smaller and easier to navigate without harming either plant. Your new Aloe plant should have a small root system developed, and can be placed into a small pot. Push a hole in the soil with your finger, then lower the plant and its roots down into the hole. Gently press the soil in around the roots up to the base of the plant. If the baby needs a little more support while it establishes itself, you can pack the dirt in a little higher.
Although this plant does have beneficial qualities for humans, it can be mildly toxic to your household animals.
For humans, Aloe vera is very useful in treating burns when applied topically. It can even be eaten, if prepared correctly. However, it can be mildly toxic to your pets, causing some discomfort including vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy. So keep your plant out of reach of pets and curious kids, and make sure to do your research on how to prepare it if you intend to eat it yourself! And always consult with a professional in the event that the plant is accidentally or improperly consumed.
Sometimes it can be very hard to tell what is going on with your plants, as one symptom can be the cause of multiple things. If this is the case, and you just can’t quite figure out what is going on, reach out to us!
Let us know what’s going on, send us pictures, bring your plant in, whatever it takes! We will do everything we can to help make sure your plant stays healthy and happy.