How to Care for Aloe Vera?
If succulents are right up your alley, the aloe plant (Aloe barbadensis) is not only a beautiful succulent, it’s also one that boasts many benefits for human health. It’s not accidental then that it’s one of the most widely used medicinal plants.
If you’re intimidated about caring for an aloe vera plant, don’t be. The aloe vera plant care tips I put together below will guide you through the things you need to know about this plant.
Aloe Vera Plant Care Tips
The aloe plant can be small enough to be kept as a houseplant or, if weather in your area permits, as a large patio or garden plant.
Like most succulents, aloe plants take their time to grow. Still, the aloe is among the faster growing succulents, so you’ll get to enjoy this plant in its full splendor in a reasonable amount of time.
As a stemless or very short stemmed plant, the aloe vera can grow to 24-40 inches tall. Its leaves are thick and fleshy and grow from the central stem of the plant. The leaves have small serrated teeth on the edges.
Aloe vera enjoys 6-7 hours of sunlight per day, just make sure to avoid the scorching touch of direct summer sunlight.
Partial indirect sunlight will be most beneficial to your aloe plant. Too much direct sunlight will cause the leaves to dry out quickly.
When aloe vera plants get enough light and other conditions are ideal, it will grow faster and develop full, healthy leaves.
Without enough sunlight, the aloe plant will grow tall and its leaves will be narrower rather than thick and full.
When watering an aloe vera plant, it’s important to remember not to overwater it. The key to watering this plant correctly is to allow the soil to dry out at least 2 inches on the top before the next watering.
You should also adjust the watering schedule depending on the season. You can water your plant every 2-3 weeks during the growth seasons and in the winter water only every 3 to 4 weeks.
The aloe vera plant is dormant during the winter, so there is no need for that much water.
Another important thing to remember that while you should water the plant deeply, don’t allow it to sit in water as this will saturate the roots and cause rotting.
If the roots rot, the plant will die. So, go easy on the water.
Temperature & Humidity
Normal room temperature between 65-85 F degrees is ideal for aloe vera plants.
Temperatures below 45 F are not tolerated well by the plant, so avoid exposure to cold temperatures.
Humidity isn’t required for this plant as it has a high tolerance for dryness.
As long as it’s a well-draining soil, the aloe vera will do well in many types of soil. In nature, the aloe grows in dry and poor soils.
You can get potting soil designed specifically for succulents or create your own mix with regular potting soil, sand and perlite.
If you’re providing your aloe with the right type of soil and it’s getting the right amount of sunlight and water, then additional nutrients can be added scarcely, but you may hold it off completely.
If you do want to add some fertilizer, pick a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer.
Fertilize sparingly; I’d say once a year in the spring is enough. Don’t fertilize more often than every 6-8 weeks.
Potting & Repotting
I keep my aloe vera plant in a terracotta pot that has three holes at the bottom, allowing the pot to drain properly.
Clay pots are also a good idea since they retain the moisture of the soil for longer.
To avoid your aloe becoming root-bound, as it grows in size, consider repotting it into a bigger-sized pot.
When repotting, place the plant a third way into the pot, making sure to leave about 0.5 inch space between the top layer of the soil and the rim of the pot.
Aloe Vera Plant Propagation
Aloe vera plants make plant propagation easy — they produce “pups” (small plantlets) that you can replant in small pots of about 4 inches.
As soon as the pups are about 3 inches, you can divide them from the main plant.
The way to do this is to remove the mother plant from the pot and gently remove the pups by their roots, which will be entwined with that of the mother plant. If they don’t easily separate, use a clean knife to gently separate them.
They also make great housewarming gifts or office gifts. Just place them in an eye-catching container and they’re ready to gift!
Different Types of Aloe Vera Plant
There are many aloe plant varieties around the world, each with its unique healing properties.
Here are some that I prefer:
Aloe Barbadensis Miller
This is the most common aloe variety and it’s easily recognizable for its white spots.
The plant blooms in spring-summer and produces yellow flowers.
Because this type of aloe is the most widespread, it’s also the one that’s used more abundantly.
Also known as the Prickly Aloe for its sharp spines, this aloe variety is a chunky variety that’s propagated exclusively through seed as it rarely produces pups.
This type of aloe can reach heights of 9 ft and produces intensive red flowers that earned them the name torch aloe.
The plant enjoys sandy and loamy soils and has a high endurance to draught.
This shrub-like aloe variety is known for its durability and peculiar inflorescence.
The plant features a single short stem, its leaves are thick and have short dark thorns.
They enjoy a lot of brightness and resist well to dry spells. In fact, it should be protected from rain and require little watering.
This is a short-leaved, short-stemmed aloe variety for those who want a mini aloe plant that will stand at around only 4 inches tall.
Despite its small size, this is a spunky aloe variety that produces bright red flowers throughout November.
This aloe is a single-headed aloe variety that’s native to South Africa.
It produces yellow-orange flowers and blooms in winter/spring.
The plant can reach sizes up to 8 feet tall and 4 feet wide.
Since there are hundreds of aloe varieties, listing them would not be possible within the confines of an article.
If you’re curious to see more varieties, I encourage you to do a little research, who knows, maybe you’ll discover a variety that you like better than the ones I listed above.
Aloe Vera FAQs
Aloe vera is a well-studied plant, so there are many things we know about this healing plant. Here are some things you may want to read more about:
What are the Health Benefits of Aloe Vera?
Aloe barbadensis has a host of benefits both when applied topically or administered orally.
Proven health benefits include its ability to help treat skin injuries and burns, relieves constipation, helps treat canker sores, improves skin and reduces wrinkles, reduces dental plaque, has antibacterial and antioxidant benefits and lowers blood sugar levels.
How Long Does it Take the Aloe Vera Plant to Grow?
If you’ve bought an aloe vera pup, expect it to reach full maturity in about 3-4 years.
Is the Aloe Vera Plant Toxic to Pets?
Yes, the aloe vera leaves can cause problems in your pet’s system due to the saponin content and other components of the leaves.
Diarrhea, lowered blood sugar, dehydration, cramping are just some of the troubles that your pet can experience if it ingests aloe vera.
Do Aloe Vera Plants Need Trimming or Pruning?
Pruning or trimming may be beneficial to your aloe plant if it grows abundantly and kept in good conditions.
A little maintenance can go a long way, so make sure to trim damaged leaves, cut excess outer leaves, remove old stems and blossoms, remove
suckers from the soil, etc.
Make sure not to overwater your aloe, or any other succulents for that matter, because excess water can cause rotting of the roots.
Aloe vera are easy to grow and maintenance isn’t crucial to them unless you don’t want them to grow out of hand.
Aloe vera plants will serve you well if you pay attention to their requirements, which aren’t many and they’re easy to meet.
Enough sun, a good draining soil, adequate watering schedule and the right temperature is all you need to see your plant thriving and to reap its health benefits.
Aloe vera plants are also easy to propagate at they’ll produce pups you can remove from the mother plant and replant in a different container.
If you’re growing aloe vera plant or using it for its therapeutic benefits, make sure you inform yourself about its mode of application and always consult with a health care provider first.
Because aloe vera plants can produce unwanted effects in both humans and pets, it’s best to avoid keeping it around pets or children.