Aloe vera plants are one of the most popular succulents to have indoors. They’re easy to grow, they’re beautiful, and boast a long list of medicinal properties from treating minor burns to clearing your skin of acne.
Despite being an easy plant, there’s one difficulty that aloe vera novices often encounter — watering aloe vera plants. That’s because aloe vera plants are prone to root rot, so it’s important to get their watering requirements right.
If you’re new to succulents and aloe vera plants, I encourage you to read the watering guide below that will teach you how to water your aloe vera plant, how often to water it, and what are the signs of over- or under-watering.
How to Water Your Aloe Vera Plant?
Aloe vera plants should be watered deeply but infrequently. If this is a confusing recommendation, let me explain:
Aloe vera plants are succulents, that is, they’ve adapted to store water in their roots, stem and leaves. If you were to cut an aloe vera leaf you’d see a gelatinous sap inside, which are basically the plant’s ‘water reserves.’
You need to offer the plant enough water for it to replenish its reserves, but not that often that it causes rotting at the roots or at the base of the plant.
Aloe veras should not sit in water, the water should drain quickly and that can only happen if the soil is a lightweight, fast-draining one.
Aloe veras that are kept indoors, should not be watered from above to avoid any potential fungal diseases or other leaf problems.
Water the soil on all parts of the pot until you can see water coming out of the draining holes. All the water that pools in the saucer should be emptied and the plant should not be allowed to sit in water.
After a thorough watering, it’s going to be a while until your aloe vera needs water again.
How Often to Water Your Aloe Vera?
You’ve watered your aloe, when to water next? After a thorough watering, your aloe vera will be fine without water for quite a while.
Some aloe vera plants will need watering every 2 weeks, others can go as long as 3 weeks without water.
How to tell if your aloe vera needs watering every 2 or 3 weeks? Truth be told, you should not tie your watering routine to the amount of time that has passed since the last watering.
A better way to tell if your aloe plant needs watering is to look at the soil. Ideally, the top 1-2 inches of soil should dry out before you water your plant again.
To check if the soil is still moist or dry, simply dip your finger into the soil until the second knuckle. If the soil is dry, go ahead and water your aloe vera. If it isn’t dry, hold off the watering for now.
The reasons why you should not necessarily set up a watering schedule that takes time into account is that not all plants have the same watering requirements.
Small aloe veras that are still growing will require more frequent watering as opposed to an aloe plant that’s already established. Plus, a small aloe is potted in a small pot that will dry out quicker than a large pot.
Weather, light conditions, the type of soil (some potting media have better water retaining capacity than others), seasonal temperature changes (in winter, aloe vera plants will require very few waterings) will all shape how often to water your aloe vera plants.
Therefore, setting up a watering schedule is not a very reliable way to approach the problem. A much more reliable way is to assess the soil and see if it’s dry enough to require watering.
Signs Your Aloe Vera Isn’t Getting Enough Water
Another assessment you can make to see if your watering routine is correct, is to assess the health status of the plant itself.
If your aloe vera is underwatered, the following symptoms can appear:
- Leaves turning yellow
- Puckered, shriveled looking plant
- Browning of leaves in more advanced stages, although brown leaves can also be caused by excess sunlight
Depending on the extent of the damage, you can help your aloe plant bounce back by giving it a thorough watering. Leaves that are already brown cannot be reverted to their original state.
Signs Your Aloe Vera Is Getting Too Much Water
A much more common problem with aloe plants is overwatering. When watered too frequently, the excess moisture favors the proliferation of fungi that can cause the roots to rot.
Sometimes, root rot is a silent killer, that is, once the plant starts showing symptoms, it may already be too late.
Signs of overwatering include:
- Leaves will turn brown because the roots can no longer supply nutrients to the plant
- Leaves will develop watery blisters or edemas
- Leaves will turn soft or mushy
- Mold may be observed on the surface of the soil
If you observe these signs on your aloe plant, it means you’ve been drowning it in water. If there are still some healthy roots left, you may be able to save your aloe by repotting it to a dry pot and removing diseased roots.
Most often, however, the damage is too extensive, and you can’t do anything else but discard the plant and start anew. You can apply your newfound knowledge to prevent similar issues in the future.
Aloe vera plants aren’t difficult to grow, yet overwatering is a common problem that can cut the plan’s life expectancy short.
To prevent overwatering related issues, it’s important to understand the watering requirements of your aloe vera plant. Always check the soil before watering as it will be one of the most reliable indicators of how often to water your aloe vera plant.
You also shouldn’t disregard any signs or symptoms that aren’t normally present. If something is wrong, you’re going to notice changes in the color or texture of the plant’s leaves.