Aloe Vera Plant Care

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My Aloe Vera in a black plastic pot

Aloe vera is one of the best plants for you if you are looking for your first indoor plant. It requires minimum attention and looks really good as a decorative indoor plant. Aloe vera is a common house plant because it needs very little care and if you are careless (like me), don’t worry - this plant is very hard to kill.

 

If you read this article completely,  people will start calling you Dr. Aloe Vera and you will be an expert in Aloe Vera plant care, how to grow and propagate your aloe vera into multiple pots, what soil to use and how much water is needed. You will know the best and most recommended ways to grow, multiply and harvest your aloe vera at home

Aloe Vera General Info

  • Origin: Arabian Peninsula

  • Genus: Aloe
  • Scientific Name: Aloe Vera
  • Common Names: Chinese Aloe, Indian Aloe, True Aloe, Barbados Aloe, Burn Aloe, First Aid plant, Wonder plant
  • 👪Family: Asphodelaceae
  • 🌵Type: Succulent Plant
  • 🌼Flowers: Yes, in Summer
  • 🍃Leaf Colors: Green, Grey-Green with small white teeth
  • 🌵Climate: Tropical, Semi-tropical, Arid
  • 🌡️Temperature: 12 C to 26 C (55 F to 80 F)
  • 🌼Growing season: Spring to Mid Summer.
  • 💧Watering: Only when the soil is absolutely dry.
  • ☀️Light: Survives in low-light. Bright indirect sunlight is preferred.
  • 🐛Pests: Mites and Aphids
  • ☠️Toxicity: Oral ingestion is Harmful for Humans and Pets.
  • ☠️Allergen: Yes, you can be allergic to a. vera gel.
  • 🧴Use: Medicinal, Drinks, Cosmetics, Body Lotions, Ointments, Ornamental plant
  • Propagation🌱: Offshoots, Leaf cuttings, flower seeds
  • Height📏: 60-100 cm
  • Soil: Well drained sandy soil

Watering 💧

As a plant parent, we show love to our plants by watering them. But succulents like aloe vera will love you more if you don’t love them.

 

Do not over water: Only water when the soil goes completely dry. Due to its succelence, there's a lot of stored water in the aloe vera leaves and it requires very less water.

 

When watering your aloe, remember the 2 D’s

  1. Drench: Water until the pot starts to drain the water, and the soil is completely drenched.
  2. Drain: Water should be completely drained

 

How much and how often you water your aloe vera depends on 

  1. The Season: Needs very less water during winters and a bit more during summer.
  2. The Location: Whether you have kept it indoors or outdoors and
  3. The Climate: How dry or humid the climate is.

I typically keep my aloe inside my room, so I give them water every 14 days on average.

 

Season

Climate

Location

Water frequency

❄️Winter

🌵Dry 

Indoors

Once a month

❄️Winter

🌵Dry

Outdoors

 

☀️Summer

🌵Dry

Indoors

1-2 times a month

☀️Summer

♨️Humid

Outdoors

 

 

The best way to know when to water is to do the classic finger test where you stick your finger and see if 1-2 inches of the topsoil has dried out completely before giving it more water. If it's still moist, don't water it.

 

Just picking up the pot is also an easy way to know if it needs to be watered. It feels pretty lightweight and doesn’t seem to have moisture in there, you can plan to water.

 

Pro Tip: Better to be on the side of under-watering than over-watering. Aloe’s can recover from severe under-watering but die if over-watered.

Sunlight ☀️

  • Lots of Indirect bright light.
  • Make sure you don’t keep the plant very close to the glass window, as it can intensify sun rays and burn the leaves.
  • South-facing window is great, but if you have more of a North or a west facing window, they will still grow but typically grow a bit slower.
  • Too much direct sunlight will burn the leaves

Soil

  • Just like other succulents like cactus, aloe vera likes any soil that drains really quickly because they don’t like to have a lot of moisture accumulating around their roots. If that happens - it causes a root rot.
  • You can buy a commercially available Cactus Mix or

Create your own DIY succulent soil mix

 

  1. Garden soil or Compost (30%-40%) for nutrients.
  2. Sand (30%-40%) for good drainage of water. Use river sand or construction sand. Don’t use beach or sea sand because it is high in sodium chloride (salt).

Desert sand used as soil for succulents along with some rocks - best for aloe vera plants

  1. Perlite (or Stones, Charcoal, Granite chips or pebbles) (10%) for water drainage.

An image of Perlite in hand that is used in potting soil

  1. Neem Cake powder (10%) for preventing fungal growth.
  • Don’t use Coco Peat or Peat Moss instead of sand - it is not recommended because it retains moisture and can cause root rot.
  • Don’t use a regular potting mix or garden soil as 100% of the soil, because those two types of soil will hold on to way too much moisture and can easily rot your plant
  • Pot should be well drained with multiple drainage holes. Water should not be withheld in the pot at all. Also, place some rocks in the pot first so they drain all the water well, without losing soil being drained from the holes.

Fertilizer

Aloe vera don’t actually need much fertilizing. Use a Cactus feed, just twice a year, typically early spring and mid-summer.

  • If you intend to use Aloe vera leaves for medical use, chemical fertilizers must be avoided. Ash is considered a natural fertilizer, so you can use it if you intend to use the leaves for medical properties.
  • Another natural fertilization to be done once a month is that with organic fertilizer with manure from organic farms (from cow, poultry etc)
    • Half a bucket should be filled with manure and the rest with water
    • The mixture is left to macerate (in the open air) for 7-8 days and then mixed with a stick and the liquid is poured into the aloe pot at the base of the plant.
    • The liquid immediately penetrates into the pot bringing deep nourishment to the whole root system of the plant.
  • You may wish to fertilize once in a year (spring to mid summer time) with phosphorus-heavy liquid fertilizer at half strength.
  • Don’t feed the plant by the end of summer as they start to power down towards the end of summer and they don’t need food to grow.
  • You can fertilize your aloes in March, May and July. 
  • Aloes are so low maintenance and that is why they are so loved and perfect for a new home gardener. You see aloes in malls and hotels for the same reason.
  • For natural and constant growth it is advisable to change the pot once a year with the addition of fertilizer. The aloe must be left in a warm place to allow the roots to stabilize in the soil. Once the adult phase is reached (after 3 years), the fertilizers are used once or twice a year.

Temperature 🌡️

  • Ideal temperature is between 55F to 80 F (12 C to 26 C). That is why they are a great indoor plant as well. Just make sure they receive enough indirect bright light.
  • Aloe Veras are native to the desert and do not need much humidity.
  • Temperature should not be too cold: Aloe vera cannot survive in heavy frost and snow.
  • Aloe veras are not found naturally in environments with temperatures below zero because the water contained in the aloe leaves would freeze causing the death of the plant due to thermal shock.
  • Aloe vera must therefore be protected and sheltered in winter and for this reason it is a perfect plant for the home. 
  • The places of origin of the aloe are environments with a dry climate and therefore we will have to respect this need to make our aloe plant grow healthy: indicatively aloe will need water at least once a month in spring and autumn, while in the summer even once a week.

Problems

📸 Screenshot this aloe vera troubleshooting table! 

 

Problem

Reason

Notes

Squishy Leaves

Over-watering

 

Leaves leaning to the sides (limping)

Over-watering or
Less sunlight

Dry out the soil.

Keep in a place of bright indirect sunlight

Black Spots

Over-watering

Remove the affected part. Spots won’t go.

Very curved (concave), thin and stiff leaves

Under-watering

Leaves started to use their own moisture to survive. No aloe gel inside.

Leaves turning light in color

Over-watering

Will turn yellow eventually.

Leaves with Yellow Tips

Over-watering or 

Under-watering

Feel the tips.

Soft & mushy leaves = Over-watering

Thick and crisp = Under-watering

Leaves turning Purple or Orange

Too much Direct Sunlight

Leaves are starting to burn. Take it away from direct sunlight

Leaves turning Brown

Sunburn

Take it away from direct sunlight

Firm Fat but Brown leaves

Recovered from dehydration

Recovering, otherwise healthy.

Folded leaf

Accidental bending

Can leave it or cut it off.

 

  • The aloe vera plant shrivels when the pot is not well-drained and if the pot retains waters.
  • Soil should be sandy.
  • In winters, your aloe vera may become dormant and it requires little moisture. If it snows, the plant should be kept indoors or in a heated environment.
  • Aloe plants will burn when exposed to too much sun
  • Watering: only when the sand is completely dry.
  • It is better to use rain or filtered water, because tap water can contain fluorine or chlorine, which could slow down the growth of the plant.
  • The aloe plant is very robust and adapts easily, if you do not overdo it with irrigation, if you provide adequate lighting, if you use a pot of adequate size, if you remove the shoots if you change the sand and if you fertilize once a year, you are more likely to be successful, you can use all its active ingredients.
  • It is necessary to emphasize that to be truly effective, the plant must be at least three years old.

Pesticides for aloe vera🐛

  • Aloe vera is resistant to most pests.
  • Spider mites, mealy bugs, scale insects and aphid species might harm the plant.

Diseases🦠

The only common problem that can occur is a root rot caused by - YES! you guessed it well - over watering 😄

How to save an overwatered Aloe Vera plant 🆘

If you have overwatered your aloe vera, and the plant is still in the wet soil,

  1. Remove the aloe from the pot
  2. Remove any rotted parts of the aloe
  3. Repot into new dry cactus and succulent soil mix

Aloe Vera game to test your knowledge

Here is a fun little game to test your knowledge on identifying the problems in aloe vera. Look at the following pictures of aloe vera, guess the reason for the problem and pick the right answer.

 

Curved Concave leaf - underwatering pic

Brown leaf pic - sunburn

Yellow leaf - limpy pic -

Yellow leaf - thick n crisp pic -

Orange leaf pic - Too much sunlight

Repotting

  • Aloes don’t actually like to be repotted very much. They like to be pot down.
  • Once a year preferably during the growing season (spring to mid summer), pop your aloe out of the container and check the roots. If it looks like it’s more roots than the soil, then it’s probably time to repot.
  • You want to make sure that the new pot has holes for the drainage of water.
  • Aloe veras dont grow a lot of roots, so a shallow container is preferred.
  • The choice of the pot is another very important point both for the material and for the dimensions: the terracotta pots are preferred because they are porous (allows water to pass through), they manage to distribute both the water and the temperature more homogeneously, avoiding stagnation or thermal shock. 
  • Terracotta pots are also heavy so these pots allow a better stability to the plant which can grow in height without the risk of leaning to the ground.

How many aloe vera plants per pot

To allow a plant to grow luxuriantly by exploiting all the space around the pot, it is always advisable to keep only one plant per pot which must be of adequate size to accommodate the plant.

Propagation 🌱

Here you will learn how to plant aloe vera from its flower seeds, baby aloes and from leaf cuttings. Propagation of aloe vera is very easy.

 

There are 3 ways to propagate aloe vera plants:

  1. Planting the Pups in a new pot

Aloe veras can become crowded when planted in a pot. You will find “Pups” or baby plants growing on the sides of the big “mother plant”.

Aloe Vera plant with Pups in a pot

These crowded pups should be removed and replanted to give enough room for the mother plant and the pups. This also helps in preventing pests invasion.

  • Take the whole plant off the container so you can see the soil.

Aloe Vera plant with baby pups along with its roots and the soil taken out from a pot and holding in hands

  • Break the soil near the pup to get the roots of it and take the pup out of the soil - as close to the stock of the mother stock as you can.

Baby Aloe Vera pup with stock in hand for propagation

  • Put a layer of stones or coffee filter in your new pot (to allow water to drain quickly and avoid losing the soil from the holes. A good practice is to put a layer of gravel of at least 2 or 3 centimeters on the bottom of the pot to prevent excess stagnant water from remaining inside the pot and making the roots rot.

Layer of Stones in a white pot for better drainage of water from the soil

  • Add some soil.
  • Place your pups in the pot.
  • Fill it up with more sand.

Pot the pups in a new pot but don’t water for 5-8 days because when you break the roots of the pups from the mother plant, the roots need to heal the wounds and callus and the stock of pups need to dry out from any moisture before you introduce more water.

Top-heavy pups

Top Heavy baby Aloe Vera pups in a pot just propagated

  • If the baby pup is heavy on the top and leaning (because they don’t have enough roots to hold them into the soil), put some rocks around it so there is some weight on the soil. Rocks also make your pot look more beautiful.

Rocks kept in the pot for of a top-heavy baby aloe vera plant to avoid leaning and drooping

  • Now, this pup will start to form roots in 1-2 months.

Tips for propagation using Aloe Vera Pups

  • It is better to plant the "offspring" of an adult Aloe vera plant in full health, easily removable from the plant and with some roots already developed in the pup.
  1. Planting a leaf cut
  • Cut a leaf from the middle.
  • Let it callus for one week
  • Pot the leaf into the soil.

Side Note: Once you cut a part of the leaf, that leaf does not grow back.

  1. Planting the seeds of the aloe vera flower
  • A mature aloe vera plant produces flowers.
  • The plant needs adequate indirect sunlight to induce flowering.
  • You can collect its seed pods and grow new aloe plants from these seeds.

How to get more pups in an aloe vera plant?

Keep the main mother plant in the center of the pot. The key is to have a wide pot, and you will start seeing a lot of pups growing on the sides of the mother plant.

Aloe Vera Infographic

Infographic

Aloe Vera Toxicity☠️

  • Should not be consumed orally - can be extremely harmful and fatal in some cases.
  • Keep the aloe away from pets and kids.

Flowering🌼

  • Aloes do flower on occasion, it’s not super consistent. Usually late winter to early spring.
  • Enjoy them while they are blooming and when they are all dried up, you can follow that stock all the way back down to the base of the plant and just clip it off with your pruners.
  • You can also use the dried flower seeds for propagating more aloe vera. Just pot the seeds inside the soil.

Using Aloe Vera

Here you will learn how to cut and use your mature aloe vera.

 

Harvesting your aloe vera is pretty easy.

 

  1. Cut 1-2 inches of leaf.
  2. Let the leaf heal
  3. Remove the yellow liquid and don’t use it as it makes the skin itchy
  4. Cut the top slice and use it topically on the skin.

 

Some tips on harvesting aloes:

 

  • When you cut a leaf, it doesn’t grow back. It will seal and callus. So you can harvest even more of it when you need it.
  • Do not harvest the leaves in the middle, use the ones at the bottom to create a stronger stock.

Benefits of Aloe Vera

  • This is one of the few plants that produce oxygen as a by-product during the night time so it can aid in your sleep patterns when kept in the bedroom.
  • We have a complete article on the benefits of aloe vera which you can check out here.

Types of Aloe Vera plants

How many aloe vera plants are there?

 

There are more than 500 varieties of aloe that grow in various geographical areas of the world. 


 

  1. Aloe Vera (Barbadensis)

Aloe Vera (Barbadensis) with thick grey-green leaves

blooming aloe barbadensis yellow flowers in close up

 

  • Most popular and traditional medicinal aloe.
  • Leaves Form: Circular Rosette.Thick, succulent, wide leaves.
  • Leaves Color: grey-green
  • Flowers: Yellow flowers.
  • Young leaves have white spots that disappear once the leaf matures.

 

  1. Aloe Chinensis

Aloe Chinensis with Reddish-orange flowers

 

  • White spots in all the leaves (young and mature). 
  • Non-edible, used for Treating burns
  • Leaves Form: somewhat stacked, not a rosette. Less thick than Barbadensis
  • Leaves Color: blue-green
  • Flowers: Reddish-orange flowers

 

  1. Coral Aloe

coral-aloe-with-pink-outline

 

  • Leaves Color: blue-green with a pink outline.
  • Flowers: Red-Orange

 

  1. Stone Aloe (Petricola)

Stone Aloe (Petricola) with red and yellow flowers near the sea

  • Leaves Color: Blue-grey, 
  • Flowers: Red-Orange-Yellow flowers
  • Used to heal minor burns.

 

  1. Octopus Plant 

aloe-aborescens-candelabra-octoput-plant with red flowers

 

  • Also called Arborescens or Candelabra. Arborescens means “tree-like” as it can sometimes reach the size of a tree. Endemic to Southern Africa.
  • Leaves Form: Rosette
  • Leaves Color: widely spread grey-green with pale teeth on the sides.
  • Flowers: sprouting vibrant red-orange flowers above the leaves in winter.

 

  1. Red Aloe

Red Aloe Cape Aloe, Bitter Aloe, or Alligator Jaw aloe with Red and Orange Flowers

 

  • Also called Cape Aloe, Bitter Aloe, or Alligator Jaw aloe. Native to South Africa.
  • Leaves Form: Large and Tall, single stemmed plant with a height of upto 3.0 m.
  • Leaves Color: Blue-green with dark-brown teeth
  • Flowers: Orange or Red flowers that grow a few feets above the leaves.
  • Useful for skin care and medicine

 

  1. Spider Aloe (Humilis)

Holding a Spider Aloe (Humilis) in a nursery pot

 

  • Low-growing short-stemmed aloe, with a lot of white spines and grows densely. Endemic to South Africa’s Cape province.
  • Leaves Form: Triangular when young, rosette when mature.
  • Leaves Color: green with white speckles
  • Flowers: Red, Orange and Yellow flowers
  • Gel used for medicine and sunburn.

 

  1. Lace Aloe (Aristata)

Lace Aloe (Aristata) in a pot


 

  • Found in Southern Africa
  • Max Height: 20cm.
  • Leaves Form: Stemless with succulent triangular leaves.
  • Leaves Color: 
  • dark-green leaves with white bumps
  • Flowers: orange-red flowers
  • The aloe that is most used for the production of natural products is Aloe vera.

How to buy an Aloe vera Plant

Aloe Vera is so basic, you will find aloe vera plants from supermarkets to your nearest nursery. But when you do reach your nearest nursery, Look for the following attributes when buying your aloe plant.

 

  • Green healthy looking leaves (not pale or yellow without any black marks on leaves)
  • New growth is upright and not limpy (parallel to the ground)
  • FAT firm leaves. Should not be limp-y and thin.
  • Presence of a baby plant (pups)
  • Crown of the aloe vera is not buried too deep into the soil.

PDF Download

Download this Aloe Vera Guide in PDF so that you can easily refer to it offline - whenever you are in need for a reference.

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