Aloe Vera Plant Care

Aloe Vera Care Guide

Aloe Vera or Aloe barbadensis is a succulent that can be both, cared for as a houseplant or as an outdoor plant depending on the climate you are living in. Aloe Vera has many uses and is an essential ingredient in beauty products and is more and more used in foods and drinks as well. Aloe Vera care is an article about the care for the Aloe Vera plant.

 

How to care for the Aloe Vera plant

As said, the Aloe Vera plant is a succulent that belongs to the Aloe genus. It has a distinctive look with its thick fleshy green leaves and little stems. The leaves are star-like orientated into all directions. Its leaves are equipped with little thorn-like spikes along the edges.  

It is considered to be a hardy houseplant that thrives best on neglect but does not tolerate it if you are watering too much. It is blooming from time to time producing a long stalk growing out of the center of the Aloe Vera.

The stalk will carry bell-shaped flowers. Once your plant stopped flowering you can snip off the stem.

 

Flowering Aloe Vera Plant
Flowering Aloe Vera Plant in Tenerife

 

Aloe Vera is appreciated as a home remedy and as a beauty product. It is said to have multiple medicinal properties that are gained from the leaves of the Aloe Vera plant.

How do I care for an Aloe Vera plant you may ask? Good question. Lets now dive into the Aloe Vera care as a houseplant:

 

Soil

A succulent or cacti potting mix is best. If you do not want to rely on a pre-made soil mix you can make your own. Mix equal parts of sand and potting soil together and voila, you have your Aloe Vera potting mix.

 

Light

Aloe Vera prefers bright sunny spots. Too much shadow and growth will be reduced drastically. Do not put your houseplant into direct sunlight for too long. Although Aloe Vera is used as an after-sun cream, it can still be burnt by too much direct sunlight.

It is fine to place your Aloe Vera outside for summer but look for a spot that doesn’t get more direct sunlight than a couple of hours. When keeping your plants indoors, close to a south or west-facing window is best. Light is important as Aloe Vera plants grow leggy otherwise and will start to look unattractive. 

If you cannot provide sufficient light indoors you can always revert to a grow light as they will do a good job to keep your Aloe Vera plant happy. 

 

Watering

Water extensively once the soil is dry about every 2-4 weeks. Make sure the water drains well as wet feet will not be tolerated. Moist soil will cause root rot in no time. This desert plant is more often killed by overwatering as under-watering is hard to do.

It stores a lot of water in its leaves. When keeping your Aloe Vera outside you won’t need to water it. Nature will take its course unless you live in an inhabitable place where it doesn’t rain all year long.

Reduce watering in winter as the plants will go into dormancy.

 

Temperature

The best temperature for an Aloe Vera is 60-75ºF (16-24ºC). Aloe Vera can be placed outside if you are living in a hardiness zone 10+ according to the USDA plant hardiness website. Aloe Vera does not tolerate freezing temperatures. Minimum temperatures should not be below 30ºF (8ºC).

 

Humidity

Aloe Vera is a succulent and can, therefore, be kept as you would keep cactus. They do like it dry and the general humidity or dryness in most homes in that regard will be just fine. 

 

Fertilizer

They do not need to be fertilized, but of course, you can do fertilize your Aloe. If you are fertilizing do it once a year in spring and used a water-based fertilizer at half strength. 

 

Propagation

Aloe Vera is a great and easy plant to propagate. That is one of the main reasons why Aloe Vera care is so enjoyable. It produces little plantlets called pups that will start to grow from your main plant without you needing to do anything. Once they reach several inches you can start the process of separating them from the mother plant.

In the best case, they will already have their separate roots once you removed the dirt below the Aloe Vera pups. Once you remove the dirt below the plantlets and you set free the roots you can cut the connection to the mother plant.

A different technique is propagating plants directly from leaves. This technique is considered to be more advance and the chances of success are much slimmer. 

 

Growth

Aloe Vera plants reach a height between 2′ – 3′ feet (61 – 91cm) and can reach considerable weight based on its leaves storing a lot of water/gel. Rotate your Aloe Vera every couple of months so you can ensure that it grows evenly. Aloe Vera plants are slow growers and it takes a lot of time until a small plantlet called Aloe pup reaches a considerable size.

To increase the growth rate it is best to keep the plants outside int the summer when the temperatures allow it. 

 

Aloe Vera Growth
Aloe Vera growing outside on the Canary Islands

 

Potting

Use a terracotta pot for the Aloe Vera care if possible. Terracotta pots are porous and tend to dry out quicker. Aloe Vera doesn’t like to stay too humid for too long. That’s why Terracotta pots are ideal. In addition, make sure your pot has drainage holes.

This prevents your plant from staying in sogging soil. You will not have to report often as Aloe Vera doesn’t have an extensive root system and loves to be planted in a tight space. This will also increase the chance of producing Aloe pups. Also, make sure that your Aloe Vera is not tipping over.

The bigger and heavier the fleshy leaves get, the more important it will be that the plant doesn’t lose its balance. 

 

Aloe Vera Plant Propagation

Aloe propagation is easy if you do it by division. That means in the case of Aloe Vera that you are separating the plant pups from the mother plant. The plantlets start to emerge from the base of the plant.

We recommend waiting until the aloe plantlets reached a certain size and have started to develop their own roots. This way the success rate increases quite a bit. 

The other method is propagation by leaf cuttings. We have never done it successfully and there seems to be quite some controversy if it is even possible to propagate Aloe Vera by using leaf cuttings.

Propagation is best done in spring and summer as this is when Aloe Vera is growing the most and propagation is most successful. Roots will grow quicker because it is warmer and brighter than in winter and autumn.

 

When does the Aloe plant start to produce plantlets?

The older your Aloe plants get the more plantlets, offshoots or suckers it will generate. These are all names for the little Aloe plants that start to grow from the base of the mother plants.

Interestingly very small plants already start to produce other Aloe Vera plants. The healthier it is and the more light the plant gets the bigger the chance of offsprings is.

 

The Step by Step Aloe Vera Plant Propagation Guide

 

  1. Remove the dirt along the Aloe plant
  2. Untangle the roots of the mother plant as well as of the offshoots
  3. Get a clean knife or scissors and cut the plantlet off as close to the big Aloe Vera as possible
  4. Remove a much of the dirt as possible
  5. Once the plantlets are untangle and all the dirt is removed inspect the roots
  6. If there are little to no roots make use of cinnamon or rooting hormone to encourage root growth
  7. Prepare some cacti or succulent soil and fill it in small terracotta pot
  8. Gently make a hole into the soil. This is where you will put your plantlet
  9. Push the soil around the pup against it slightly so it holds steady
  10. Slightly water the soil so it is humid but not sogging wet as the Aloe Vera pups will have little to no roots to start with
  11. Wait unti the soil is almost dry before watering
  12. After 3-4 weeks slightly pull the Aloe Vera to test if roots have started to grow
  13. If new roots started to grow you can care for your pup as you would for a regular Aloe Vera

The great thing is that Aloe is very productive and you will have multiple new plants very soon and can share them with friends and family or you find yourself some friends online and swap plant with them.  A good swap for an Aloe Vera would be a Spider plant.

 

Propagated Aloe Vera Pup
Propagated Aloe Vera Pup in its own terracotta pot

 

Aloe Vera care outside

You can plant your Aloe in an area with direct sunlight. Dry sandy soil with rocks is best as they will allow water to drain around the plant. When moving an Aloe Vera from indoors to outdoors make sure that you are acclimating your plant slowly and gradually increase the amount of light the plant gets be moving it to more and more sunlight every couple of days until it is adapted to full sunlight.

When an Aloe gets too much sunlight, it can turn orange or brown. This is an indicator that the amount of sunlight is too much. This can often be seen in very hot and warm places.

 

Aloe Vera Plant Pests

Aloe Vera is prone to be attacked by plant pests. Its fleshy thick leaves are a feast for multiple plant pests such as aphids, scale, mealybugs and mites. Learn about how to spot, treat and prevent an infection in the following paragraphs. This Aloe Vera care section is dedicated to pests.

 

Aphids on Aloe Vera

For healthy Aloe Vera plants, a small infestation with aphids is no big deal. But the larger the population and the unhealthier the Aloe, the bigger the issue an aphid infestation will be. Aphids are plant juice sucking insects and the just love Aloe Vera plants with their fleshy leaves.

Aphids are pear-shaped and can be spotted using a magnifying glass.

 

Scale problems with Aloe

Scale are a common problem with succulents. They are small flat insects that are feasting on the plant tissue and sap. When talking about scale and succulent we are mostly talking about the soft scales.

Scale is sucking on the plant juice and will damage the health of the Aloe Vera and will lead to stunted and crippled growth as well as discolouration. Scale are not moving and will remain on the same spot they were hatched. 

For the untrained eye they are difficult to spot as they do not look like insects at all and can be confused with natural spots on the plants. To get rid of scale it is best to get a dull knife and scrape them off.

A different method that works for most plant pests is to take a cotton swab that you put into rubbing alcohol. Swipe the plant with it and you should get rid of the nasty scale infestation.

 

Mealy Bugs often attack Aloe Vera

Mealybugs see Aloe Vera as a big buffet. They very much enjoy feeding on the fleshy leaves. You can spot them by looking out for white web-like constructions on leaves. They like the crevices and will often hang out where the leaves meet the stems.

Mealybugs will move quickly and will infest plant by plant. It is therefore essential that you are moving even quicker.

A cotton ball with rubbing alcohol as well a spritzing your plant with water and then wiping it off with a cloth is a good way to get rid of a mealybug colony fast. 

 

Aloe Vera infested with mites

Mites are small, tiny insects. There even is a specific type called the aloe mite. Some types of mites such as gall mites have the potential to do extensive damage on the plants.

Worst case is that you have to dispose you plants entirely depending on the damage caused. It is good practice to isolate and quarantine infected plants to prevent spread to still healthy plants.

 

How to get rid of a pest infestation

Aloe Vera plants are very sensitive and you should refrain from using any pesticides. If your Aloe has a pest problem it is best to use diluted rubbing alcohol.

Clean the leaves and the surface area of your plant and repeat it after about two weeks to make sure that any mealybug, scale, aphid or whatever pest attacked your Aloe Vera plant is completely gone. 

Even using straight water to wash off your plants is a good way to get rid of unwanted insect infestations. 

The best way to prevent pest infestations is to keep your plants healthy and happy. This way even if your plants get infected there is a good chance that they will survive the attack. On the other hand,  a healthy plant is no guarantee that they will not get sick.

Therefore make it part of your routine to search your plants weekly for pests. This way you will spot infestations earlier than later and you can react quickly to condemn colonies of insects building up and spreading to large parts of your plant collection.

 

Aloe Vera Plant Benefits

Apart from Aloe Vera care there are many benefits associated with Aloe Vera. It is often used in after-sun gels as well as for cosmetical purposes from skincare to hair products. In addition, more and more drinks contain Aloe Vera as it is considered to be healthy to be ingested.

The part that is used for all these products is the fleshy leaves that contain the slimy aloe gel. This gel contains vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and amino acids.

Aloe Vera care is easy and Aloe plants are good looking plants that grow best when neglected. If you can hold back on watering you can enjoy your Aloes for many years to come and share offsprings with your friends for years to come.

What are the most common asked questions when it comes to the Aloe Vera care?

 

Common Aloe Vera Care Questions

Aloe Vera Plant Care
Aloe grows in a star-shaped pattern

 

Is Aloe Vera care easy?

Aloe Vera plant care is easy. It grows best when neglected. Make sure to not overwater as this can lead to root rot.

 

Who often do I need to water my Aloe Vera?

Water every 2-4 weeks depending on your conditions at home. Reduce watering in winter as Aloe Vera goes into dormancy. 

 

How much light do Aloe Vera plants need?

Aloe Vera has high light needs and should be placed close to a south or west-facing window. It grows well in direct sunlight between 6 to 8 hours. Too much direct sunlight might burn the plant and lead to orange discolouration of the leaves.

 

Can you grow Aloe Vera outdoors?

Aloe Vera can be grown outside in plant hardiness zones 9 through 11 according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In zone 9 it will need a sheltered location. Outside of these zones, you can keep your Aloe Vera outside in the summertime. 

 

Is Aloe Vera toxic?

Aloe vera can be toxic when ingested and might lead to cramps and diarrhea. It is considered toxic to cats and dogs. 

 

What is Aloe Vera good for?

It is considered good to heal wounds and as care for sunburns. It also contains antioxidants, amino acids and vitamins.

 

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Aloe Vera Houseplant Care Sheet
Houseplant Care Sheet