An easy-to-care-for, eye-catching succulent that grows well indoors is the aloe vera plant. Aloe vera plants are helpful as well because the juice from their leaves can be administered topically to treat the discomfort associated with burns and scrapes. How to cultivate and take care of aloe vera plants at home is provided here.
About Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is a species of succulent plant in the Aloe genus. The plant has thick, fleshy, greenish leaves that fan out from the stem at the center and is stemless or has extremely short stems. The leaf’s margin is toothed and serrated.
Be aware that you will require an area that delivers bright, indirect sunlight before you purchase an aloe (or artificial sunlight). If your aloe is located in an area that receives a lot of direct sunlight, you may need to water it more frequently because the plant might become overly dried up and develop yellow mushy leaves.
ALOE VERA LEAF GEL SHOULD NOT BE EATEN BY PEOPLE OR PETS. WARNING: Aloe vera leaf gel can be applied topically. It may even be harmful in higher doses and can result in unpleasant symptoms like nausea or indigestion.
- Selecting the appropriate kind of container is crucial. It is advised to choose a pot made of terra-cotta or another porous material since it will allow the soil to completely dry between waterings and be weighty enough to prevent the plant from toppling over. You may also use a plastic or glazed pot, but they’ll hold more moisture.
- Make sure you select a container with at least one drainage hole on the bottom when making your selection. This is crucial because the hole will let extra water drain away. Aloe vera plants are resilient, but poor draining can lead to rot and wilting, which is by far the most prevalent reason for this plant’s demise.
- Choose a container that is around the same width as it is deep. Choose a container that is deep enough to allow you to bury the full stem of your aloe plant if it has one.
- Use a well-draining potting mix, such as those designed for cactus and succulents, for aloe vera plants because they are succulents. Never use soil for gardening. Perlite, lava rock, bits of bark, or all three, should be used in an excellent mixture.
- There is no requirement for a layer of gravel, clay balls, or any other “drainage material in the bottom of the pot. Only space that the roots could have used is being taken up by this. A hole for drainage is sufficient drainage!
- Dust the plant’s stem with a rooting hormone powder before planting your aloe to help it produce new roots. Rooting hormone can be purchased online or at a nearby garden center or hardware store.
How to Plant (or Repot) an Aloe Vera Plant
It’s time to repot your aloe plant if it has become lanky, has become too big, or just needs an improvement. This is how:
- Get your pot ready. Place a tiny piece of screen over the drainage hole after fully drying the new pot and giving it a fast rinse (or a good scrub, if it’s a pot you’ve used before). This will prevent soil from falling out the bottom and will allow water to flow correctly. Although these will degrade over time, a piece of newspaper or paper towel folded twice can also be used in a pinch.
- Get your plant ready. Remove the aloe vera plant from its existing container and, taking care to avoid damaging the roots, brush away any extra dirt from the roots.
- If your plant has puppies, get rid of them right away. (For information on how to take out and pot pups, see the “Care” section of this page.)
- Trimming the stem can be done if your plant has an extremely long, spindly stem that won’t fit in the pot. Be aware that the plant could die if you do this. Trim the stem by cutting off a portion while keeping as much of it attached to the plant as you can. Take the naked plant next, and set it somewhere warm with indirect light. After a few days, the wound will develop a callus. Continue now with the repotting methods listed below.
- Establish your plant. Place your plant in the soil after filling the pot with potting soil that drains properly approximately a third of the way. Remember to leave at least 3/4 of an inch of space between the top of the soil and the rim of the pot when you fill in the soil around the plant. The aloe plant’s bottom leaves should also be barely visible above the ground. After planting, stop watering.
- Neglect your plant (temporarily). Don’t water your aloe for at least a week after putting it in its new pot. This will lessen the possibility of rot and give the plant more time to grow new roots. Keep the plant in a warm location with bright but indirect light until it appears to be rooted and content.
How to Care for an Aloe Vera Plant
- Lighting: Use artificial light or direct, bright sunlight. The best window is one facing west or south. Low-light aloe plants can get lanky.
- Aloe vera thrives at temperatures between 55 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (13 and 27C). Most flats and residences have comfortable temperatures. You can bring your plant outside without issue from May to September, but if the nights are chilly, bring it back inside.
- Fertilizing: Use a balanced houseplant formula blended at half strength only in the spring and summer, and fertilize infrequently (no more than once a month).
- Repotting: When the roots become bound, repotted using the guidelines in “Planting, above.
Watering Aloe Vera
The hardest part of maintaining good aloe vera is watering, but it’s really not that complicated. Although the aloe is a succulent plant used to dry conditions, its thick leaves nevertheless require enough water.
- Aloe vera plants need deep, but intermittent, watering. To put it another way, the soil should feel damp after watering, but you should let it partially dry out before you water it again. The roots of the plant may rot if the soil is kept excessively moist.
- Allow the top third of the potting soil to dry out between waterings to make sure you aren’t overwatering your plant. For instance, if your plant is housed in 6 inches of potting soil, wait until the top 2 inches are completely dry before giving it another drink. (Check the soil’s dryness with your finger.)
- Typically, you should water your aloe plant every two to three weeks in the spring and summer and even less frequently in the fall and winter. One general guideline for watering in the fall and winter is to roughly double the intervals between waterings (as compared to your summer watering schedule). In other words, water every four weeks in the winter instead of every two weeks in the summer.
- When watering, some extra water could leak out the pot’s bottom. So that the soil may absorb as much of the water as possible, let the pot stand in it. After waiting 10 to 15 minutes, discard any leftover water.
Removing & Replanting Aloe Vera Offsets (Pups)
Offsets, also known as plantlets, pups, or “babies,” are frequently produced by mature aloe vera plants and can be removed to create a completely new plant (a clone of the mother plant, technically).
- Utilizing pruning shears, scissors, or a sharp knife, locate the locations where the offsets are linked to the mother plant and remove them. Leave the offset with at least an inch of stem.
- For several days, let the offsets remain free of soil; this will allow the offset to develop a callus over the cut, helping to prevent it from rotting. During this stage, keep the offsets in a warm area with indirect light.
- Put the offsets in a typical succulent potting mix once they have developed calluses. The soil need to drain well.
- Place the freshly potted puppies in a bright area. Keep the soil on the dry side and wait at least a week before watering.
How to Get Your Aloe Vera to Flower
A tall flower spike termed an inflorescence, which is occasionally produced by mature aloe vera plants, gives rise to dozens of tubular yellow or red blooms. The already beautiful aloe is surely given a new degree of intrigue by this!
Aloes cultivated as houseplants unfortunately rarely blossom because they need virtually perfect growing circumstances to do so: lots of sunshine, enough water, and the correct temperature range. Aloe blooms are typically only found on plants cultivated outdoors year-round in warm climates due to these needs (mostly lighting).
To increase the likelihood that your aloe will flower:
- Give it as much light as you can, particularly in the spring and summer. Aloes can be kept outdoors in the summertime when the temperature is over 70F and the sun is shining (21C). Bring the aloe indoors if the temperature is expected to drop below 60F (16C) at night.
- Note: Give your aloe time to acclimate to the harsh light before moving it from indoors to full sun. Otherwise, it could get sunburned. Prior to relocating it to a more sunny position, let it remain in partial shade for about a week.
- Ensure that the plant receives the proper amount of water—enough to prevent it from drying out completely, but not too much to drown it! Make sure the plant isn’t getting constantly sopped by summer rains if it’s being maintained outside.
- Provide your aloe with a suitable period of dormancy in the fall and winter. Aloe often flower in the late winter or early spring; therefore, allowing them a period of rest with less regular watering and milder temperatures may encourage them to flower.
- If it continues to fail to flower, don’t be shocked. Despite our best attempts, most aloes simply can’t thrive indoors, so don’t be surprised if yours simply won’t blossom!
Aloe that stand out as appealing include:
- or Partridge-Breasted Aloe, the Tiger (Aloe variegata) Short, smooth leaves with irregular white stripes make up this tiny aloe.
- A little plant with delicately sawtoothed, white-spotted leaves is called a lace aloe (Aloe aristata).
- Aloe Vera (Aloe glauca)
- a bigger kind of aloe that has silver-blue leaves.
Aloe Vera Gel
Remove a mature leaf from the aloe vera plant and cut it lengthwise to benefit from the plant’s calming effects. Lay the opened leaf, gel-side down, on top of the burn, or squeeze the gel from the leaf and apply it to the wound. Find out more about the therapeutic benefits of aloe vera.
- Aloe vera serves as both a beautiful decoration for a kitchen shelf and a self-regenerating first aid kit. Learn more about how aloe vera can improve your health naturally.
- Aloe can also be used for cold sores, but its most well-known use is to soothe sunburned skin.
Scale and mealybugs, two common indoor plant pests, are most likely to attack aloe vera plants.
Typical ailments include:
- Root decay
- Hard rot
- bacterial stem rot
- Leaf decay
Is direct sunlight required for aloe plants?
Numerous succulent plant species with thick, spear-shaped leaves are classified as aloes. They can grow with or without a stem and may have teeth or spines to defend their leaves. Only a few species maintain a small enough size to make good houseplants.
Aloes, which are succulents, have developed thick leaves to store water. A thick epidermis and waxy coating that surrounds the leaf also serves as protection; upon closer inspection, this layer reveals a characteristic pattern. These plants’ relatively high internal to exterior area ratios prevent as much water from escaping into the sky. They come from a variety of the less moist habitats, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and islands in the Indian Ocean.
Aloes are adapted to the dry, cold weather that most houseplants in the New York area must endure, but they can be challenging to cultivate indoors since they require such large amounts of sunlight each day. Furthermore, many of the small, aesthetically pleasing aloes bought for the house quickly outgrow the size and form that initially appealed to the customer. Here are some general guidelines for growing aloe indoors successfully in our region.
Many succulent gardeners fall short of providing their plants with the necessary amount of light. Your aloe must be placed in a window where it will get at least six hours of sunshine every day. Your succulent will start to stretch and lose its appealing, compact structure in the absence of prolonged, direct light. As the stem becomes brittle, it could collapse over. (Read more below about Aloe Flop’s other causes, including a lack of light.) Popular dwarf aloe Aloe variegata, sometimes known as partridge aloe, prefers direct exposure to bright sunlight.
Artificial lights should be considered, either alone or in combination with natural light, if the sunlight coming through your sunniest window is insufficient. Good results can be obtained by placing a white fluorescent light 6 to 12 inches above the plant. Artificial light must be provided for at least 14 to 16 hours each day and cannot be as strong as daylight. (Click on the Needles + Leaves link for more information on selecting an artificial light for your succulent plant.)
The most common reason for succulent failure is too much water, therefore you must water your aloe carefully. The time of year should affect your irrigation schedule. Winter (October through February) is known for its low levels of light, so you should typically only water when absolutely required to keep the soil from drying out completely. Your plant enjoys prolonged dry conditions and is not currently in an active growth phase.
Water the plant thoroughly, letting the water run from the pot’s bottom, then checking back after 15 minutes to remove any water that has accumulated in the tray. Water more regularly when the number of daylight hours rises and the plant resumes active development, but continue to wait until the soil is almost completely dry before adding more water. Because of their thin roots, succulents are readily damaged by overwatering. They don’t require humidity to thrive, thus misting is not recommended. Keep water from collecting in the plant’s leaf rosette.
Some aloes might develop brown spots as a result of fluoride sensitivity. If at all feasible, use filtered or rainwater.
With the temperatures that can be achieved in homes in the New York region, succulents are content. Temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit at night and 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day are tolerable. For optimum growth, succulents need a temperature swing of at least 10 degrees from day to night.
Your house is a microclimate in itself. In the winter, locations near windows may be sunny, but they are also cool (usually 10 degrees colder than the center of the room). In comparison to the rest of the room and the home, a south-facing window warms up more during the day in the summer. For the best plant placement in your home, research the microclimates. Plants may need to be relocated to their most cozy spot for the season. A cooled aloe that is left on a chilly window sill or in a draft can turn discolored.
Soil and Potting
The soil and container you choose for your aloe have a big impact on how healthy it is. These plants are susceptible to unexpected mortality from moisture that becomes trapped around their tiny root systems. You need a draining hole in the bottom of your pot. A succulent’s natural habitat’s loose, well-draining soil composition should be modeled after the optimum soil. The ideal ratio is usually equal parts potting soil, peat, and sand. Commercial cactus mixes are fine, if not ideal, and widely accessible; nevertheless, stay away from combinations that include food. To keep fleshy leaves from getting wet and rotting, cover the soil’s surface with perlite or coarse sand. Repot older plants in July or August. Set the plant no deeper into the potting soil than it has been in its previous container; doing so will cause the stem to decay.
Succulent plants are commonly offered together in shallow pots as a tiny garden, however these conditions might not be good for your plants. The shallow containers are typically missing the bottom hole required for survival and are often chosen for aesthetic appeal rather than drainage. Different plants develop at different rates and require different quantities of moisture; frequently, one plant will dominate the others and finally suffocate them. Not the attractive scene you anticipated when you bought your little garden!
If you have a grouping like this, watch it carefully and remove any plants that are underperforming or taking over the group. They might require both a new place and a pot of their own. If your miniature garden doesn’t have a drainage hole, you could choose to repot the plants in a container that will increase their chances of surviving. Use caution while transplanting because the roots are sensitive.
Nutritional therapy only needs to be minimal. Only feed aloes during their growing season (March through September). It is recommended to feed a balanced organic houseplant food once every month to three months at half strength. Avoid using any plant food with a high nitrogen content.
Winter Rest Period
It’s crucial to recognize when your succulents aren’t actively growing and to give them a break. Most succulents require less water, food, and temperature from October through February, but direct sunlight should still be present.
is a frequent issue that may occur for a number of causes. Some aloes simply have a propensity of growing that keeps them fanning out or low to the ground in their natural habitat, which resembles a collapse when it occurs to your houseplant. When your plant reaches a height of about a foot before starting to topple over the side of the container, you may be witnessing your plant’s natural form if you are growing Aloe brevifolia (short-leaved aloe) or another aloe with a stem covered in leaves.
As the numerous plants outgrow the surface of the pot, clump-forming aloes may extend over the sides of the container. As they grow older, some aloes take on a shape that differs from what you might have anticipated based on the immature appearance of your plant. A mature Aloe vera plant will naturally have some of its older, outside leaves droop and sprawl away from the plant’s center. You shouldn’t attempt to change your plant’s behavior because it will continue to grow in this manner.
Aloe flop can also happen if your plant is not getting enough sunlight, which prevents the leaves or stem from growing in the attractive upright form you want. The leaves will appear extended, flattened, and limp.
Overwatering or damp soil, especially in the winter, is a third, frequently occurring cause of an aloe to sag. Water only when necessary during the winter’s low light (October through February) to keep the soil from drying up completely. Check that you have the proper, quick-draining soil and that your container has an unblocked drainage hole because, despite your best efforts to limit watering, moist soil and the accompanying root rot can still happen. Overwatered leaves will appear fragile and faded.
If your aloe is tipping over, consider the following:
- Does your plant receive a minimum of six hours a day of bright, direct sunlight?
- Are you using less water in the winter and growing your aloe in a container with drainage and loose, free-draining soil rather than letting it languish in a dish of runoff?
- Is it a form of aloe with leaves covering the stem that naturally grows in this shape after growing to a height of about a foot if it receives enough sunlight and the watering regimen is proper? It’s possible that you are only viewing the adult version of those plants, as well as many other varieties of aloe. Only a kind of dwarf aloe will maintain its tiny size over time.
can bury themselves in the roots or conceal themselves in the plant rosette. Using an alcohol-soaked cotton swab, dab any that you see manually. Check the plant frequently for new insects.