Aloe vera is an easy-to-grow tropical succulent ideal for beginner gardeners and experienced plant enthusiasts alike. In addition to being attractive houseplants, aloe vera leaves are also a valuable topical treatment for minor burns and scrapes. In this article, discover all you need to know about aloe vera plant care.
When considering how to care for an aloe vera plant, light, nutrients, and water are crucial factors. Although most people grow aloe veras as indoor plants, they thrive outdoors in USDA planting zones 8-11.
In general, aloe grows best in sandy, well-draining soil with bright light and minimal watering. While aloe plants can handle direct sunlight at lower elevations, they risk sunburn when placed in full sun at elevations higher than 1,000 feet.
There are more than 300 different cultivars of aloe vera. The most common variety is Aloe barbadensis miller, the only edible cultivar. Read on to learn the best tips and tricks for taking care of an aloe plant.
What to Know about Taking Care of an Aloe Plant
Aloe vera is native to northern Africa, southern Europe, and the Canary Islands. Thanks to its health benefits and easy care, it’s now cultivated worldwide.
Caring for an aloe plant is remarkably easy if you understand its basic care requirements. One of the most significant aspects is how often to water aloe vera. Overwatering is one of the most frequent causes of aloe vera plant care problems.
As a general rule, water your aloe vera indoor plant once every two to three weeks. Overwatering may cause brown, soggy spots on the leaves and eventually lead to root rot.
Make sure the potting soil is completely dry before rewatering your aloe plant. To check if it’s time to water your aloe, insert your finger into the pot up to the first knuckle. If a little soil sticks to your fingertip, wait a few more days before watering.
As tropical succulents, aloe vera plants do not tolerate temperatures lower than 40℉. Planting aloe vera in pots is often necessary so you can move it around as needed.
The optimal temperature range for growing aloe is between 55-80℉. If you wish, move your potted aloe plant to an outdoor space during the summer, and bring it back into the house once the weather turns cold.
Aloe is not merely an attractive houseplant. There are numerous uses for aloe vera leaves. In addition to soothing sunburn, aloe vera gel helps relieve acne and skin irritation.
It improves dental health as an alternative to traditional mouthwash. However, note that some people have adverse reactions to aloe vera products.
Try making your own aloe vera gel skin treatments with this super-simple recipe for a soothing face mask – it’s a wonderful at-home spa therapy. Here’s how to extract the gel from aloe vera leaves and turn it into a creamy, relaxing self-care treat.
Carefully remove the edges and sides of the aloe leaves with a sterile, sharp knife so that just the interior aloe gel remains. Add the peeled leaves to a blender or food processor along with the lemon juice, honey, and apple cider vinegar.
Pulse until it reaches a smooth, even consistency. Use a cotton ball to apply the treatment to your face and neck. Leave it on for ten minutes to a half-hour, then rinse with warm water. Store your aloe vera face mask in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
Indoor Aloe Vera Plant Care
There are a few key aspects of successfully growing aloe vera indoors. First, find a location in your home that gets bright, indirect sunlight.
If you would like to have an aloe vera plant on your desk at work, you might ask, “Do aloe vera plants need sunlight?” On average, aloe requires at least six hours of bright, indirect light each day.
If you don’t have a sunny spot near a south-facing window available, consider using a grow light so your aloe plant does not become elongated or” “leggy” from not getting enough light. It’s also beneficial to rotate the pot a quarter-turn every week or two, so the plant leans in different directions and develops a strong stem.
Select a pot for your aloe plant that is large enough to accommodate the plant’s root system and has several drainage holes at the bottom. Terra cotta pots are ideal for succulents because the porous clay absorbs any excess water.
Aloe vera plants are not especially heavy feeders and grow best with sparse watering and fertilizing. Fertilize your aloes with an organic, all-purpose houseplant fertilizer once per year in the springtime.
Rather than watering your houseplants on a routine schedule, it works best to check their soil regularly and only water when necessary. Plants tend to use less water in the winter than in the summer.
Choosing the Right Potting Soil for Aloe Vera Plants
In its natural environment, aloe grows on steep slopes with sandy, rocky soil. As such, it is critical to plant them in well-draining potting soil.
For ideal results, use a potting mix specifically formulated for growing succulents. Alternatively, make your own DIY aloe vera plant soil with these inexpensive ingredients available at your local garden center.
In a large bucket or lidded container, combine the ingredients using a garden trowel or hand rake. Adjust your measurements so that you only make as much soil mix as you’ll use at once. Store any leftover succulent soil in a resealable plastic bag in a cool, dry place.
Repotting an Aloe Vera Plant
Every few years, it is beneficial to transplant your aloe vera into a larger pot. Otherwise, the plant becomes root bound and stunted. When you see new roots emerging from the drainage holes at the bottom of your aloe plant’s container, it’s time to repot.
The new pot must be no more than two or three inches wider and deeper than the old one. If there is too much excess potting soil that the root system doesn’t touch, it stays saturated too long, and the roots may rot.
Gently remove your aloe plant from its pot, taking care to avoid disturbing the roots as much as possible. Scoop an inch or two of potting mix into the bottom of the new pot and set the root ball inside.
Fill the pot with just enough potting mix so the soil level remains the same and you do not bury the base of the plant. Water it thoroughly and put it back in its sunny spot.
How to Care for an Aloe Vera Plant Outdoors
If you live in a warm climate that does not get freezing temperatures in the winter, it is possible to grow aloe vera in your outdoor landscape. Where to plant aloe depends on your altitude.
Near sea level, aloe plants flourish in full sun – six or more hours of direct sunlight throughout the day. At elevations of above 1,000 feet, it is best to plant aloe vera in partial shade.
Aloe does not demand exceptionally high nutrient levels but tends to struggle if planted in heavy clay soil or boggy ground. Outdoor aloes only require fertilizing once each spring.
After transplanting, water your aloe vera plant thoroughly. In the future, give it enough water to saturate the top few inches of soil when it completely dries out.
Propagating Aloe Vera Plants
Aloe pups are small plants that develop at the base of a mature aloe vera plant. The pups are firmly attached to the mother plant’s stem, so take special care not to damage it during propagation. Remove the mother aloe plant from the pot and gently brush soil away from the base of the plant to reveal the pups.
Use a sharp, sterile pair of pruners to carefully detach the aloe pups without damaging the main stem. Allow the cuts to heal for 24 hours before repotting the aloe pups and the mother plant.
When you are ready to repot them, use containers with drainage holes at the bottom. Fill the pots with a succulent soil mix and gently insert the small plants at the same depth they originally grew.
Wait three days before watering the new plant clones. After that, only rewater when the soil has completely dried out.
It is not unusual for newly transplanted aloes to turn brown for a while after repotting. This process is called transplant shock. Your new plant is just pouting and will recover within a few weeks as new roots develop.
Common Aloe Vera Plant Care Problems
Fortunately, aloe vera is not prone to many pest and disease problems. Prevent issues by providing the plant with appropriate levels of light, nutrients, and water.
The most commonplace insect pests for indoor aloe plants are mealybugs. Signs of an infestation include a white, fuzzy coating on the leaves, stunted growth, and wilted, yellow leaves.
Spray all parts of the affected plant with an organic pesticide like insecticidal soap or neem oil or make your own homemade indoor plant bug spray. These solutions also work for spider mites in soil and white fuzzy aphids.
The majority of aloe plant diseases develop from overwatering. Root rot results in dark-colored, mushy lower leaves and root tips. Lift your aloe plant out of its pot and carefully brush away as much of the old potting soil as possible.
Sterilize the container, then repot your aloe with new soil and allow it to dry out for several days before rewatering.
Taking care of an aloe plant at home is incredibly straightforward. As long as you provide sandy, well-draining soil and a sunny spot for it to grow, aloes are wonderfully low-maintenance houseplants.
Aloe vera leaves are useful for relieving minor burns, inflammation, and skin irritation. Aloe vera gel also makes a great natural mouthwash.
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