The Aloe vera plant is an extraordinarily popular houseplant with its many benefits. It is known by many across the world due to its sap and the best part is that it’s easy to grow.
We’re going to take a deep dive into exactly how you can grow a thriving and healthy Aloe vera.
Aloe vera has become well known all thanks to its sap and the health benefits that come along with it. The watery gel is stored in its thick, succulent leaves with jagged edges.
The most commonly known Aloe is the Aloe barbadensis Miller (Vera) and it belongs to the Asphodelaceae (Liliaceae) family. This stemless succulent is native to many parts of the world such as Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and Madagascar.
First, we’ll start by describing some of the most popular types of Aloe.
Types of Aloe
There are tons of Aloe species available, and we’re going to describe ten of the most sought-after and beautiful Aloes.
- Aloe cameronii: It is also referred to as the ‘red’ Aloe due to its copper-red colored leaves. This variation blossoms beautiful red flowers during the winter.
- Aloe ‘blue elf’: It is native to South Africa and this evergreen has blue-green leaves that form a stunning rosette.
- Aloe zebrina: The ‘zebra’ Aloe has jade-green leaves with large white spots. Its pattern is the reason why this houseplant is also known as the ‘spotted’ Aloe.
- Aloe aristata: It is commonly known as the ‘lace’ Aloe due to the white bumps and hairs that cover its green leaves.
- Aloe brevifolia: This type of Aloe has pale-blue leaves that transform into a golden color when placed in the sunshine. It is also called the ‘shortleaf’ Aloe.
- Aloe ciliaris: The ‘climbing’ Aloe has bright green leaves with tiny hair-like structures. It blooms intricate tubular red flowers with yellow tips.
- Aloe variegata: It has white stripes that form a pattern similar to tiger stripes, hence its nickname; ‘partridge breast tiger’ Aloe.
- Aloe juvenna: This variation is native to Kenya and has triangular-shaped leaves with a light green variation. This plant is more commonly known as the ‘tiger tooth’ Aloe.
- Aloe plicatilis: The ‘fan’ Aloe has thin, fan-shaped leaves and it blooms orange-red flowers.
- Aloe maculata: These spikey leaves secrete a sap that almost appears as soap, which is why it has also been referred to as the ‘soap’ Aloe.
Fun Fact: There are over 500 different species of Aloe.
Aloe vera has many benefits ranging from its medicinal properties to its health benefits. The houseplant is even an air purifier, removing toxins such as formaldehyde and benzene from the air.
The many other benefits come from its sap. It is full of vitamins, and it has antibacterial and healing properties too.
We’ve compiled a list of the top benefits of the gel:
- The gel helps with psoriasis and eczema.
- It heals burns due to its soothing, cooling, and moisturizing effect.
- The sap improves one’s digestive health.
- It promotes oral hygiene as it removes plaque.
- The sap has been said to improve the appearance of acne scarring.
- It can lower blood sugar levels and relieve heartburn.
- When applied to food the sap keeps it fresh.
How Big Does It Get?
The Aloe vera can grow between 1 and 2 feet (30.5 – 61cm) tall, and its leaves grow up to 8 to 10 inches (20 – 25cm) long.
If perfectly cared for, some indoor Aloe vera can even grow up to 3 feet (91.4cm) tall.
Fun Fact: The Aloe tree (Aloe barberae) is one of the tallest Aloe species and it can grow up to heights of 32.8 to 59 feet (10 – 18m).
How Fast Does It Grow?
When optimally cared for it can grow an additional 6 to 8 inches (15 – 20cm) a year. Typically, it takes the houseplant 3 to 4 years to reach its mature size.
How Long Does It Last?
The average Aloe vera can live for 10 or 12 years, while some experts have managed to grow this plant for up to 25 years.
Is It Toxic to Cats, Dogs, and Humans?
The Aloe vera is toxic to both people and pets. When consumed in high doses it is toxic to humans, and the sap is mildly toxic to cats and dogs.
The sap contains certain glycosides that when digested increase the production of mucus and water in the colon. This can cause a cat or dog to feel nauseous, vomit or experience diarrhea. Your poor furry friend may become depressed, lose weight, and feel fatigued.
Should either your cat or dog ingest the sap then contact your vet right away.
When consumed in high doses you may begin to have abdominal cramps or diarrhea. In extreme cases, it may cause kidney failure.
If you suspect that you have consumed too much of the sap then seek professional medical advice as soon a possible.
How to Care for Aloe Vera
Although Aloe barbadensis Miller is a tough plant, it still has certain care requirements that have to be met. We’ll guide you through everything that you need to know in order to grow a prosperous houseplant.
How Often to Water It
Aloe vera is drought tolerant, however, it is best to develop a consistent watering schedule. If you want a healthy plant, you should water it once every 2 to 3 weeks during the spring and summertime.
Once the plant becomes dormant during the winter months, ideally it should only be watered once a month.
The soil shouldn’t be left to dry out for too long or the plant will begin to wilt. Always use your finger to feel how dry or moist the soil is.
Do You Water It from Top or Bottom?
It is best to water this houseplant from the bottom in order to avoid wetting its leaves. Not only does watering from the bottom protect the foliage but it allows all of the roots to absorb the water evenly.
Follow the easy steps below to water it from the bottom:
- Fill a basin or container with a few inches of water.
- Place the pot in the basin/container for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Make sure that the houseplant is not completely submerged in the water as we don’t want to drown it.
- Remove the plant from the basin/container and allow the excess water to drain out.
- Place the Aloe vera in its sunny home.
Drainage is important for a plant to survive as it is sensitive to over-watering and excess moisture. The soil needs to be well-draining to avoid root rot and soggy conditions.
The most important thing to remember is that your pot needs at least one drainage hole to allow any excess water to flow out. After watering it, you must allow the water to drain for 5 or 10 minutes before placing the plant back in its original home.
How to Trim It
There are a few reasons why you should prune the Aloe barbadensis Miller; when it has brown tips on the foliage, dead leaves, or you may want to encourage healthy growth.
Trimming this houseplant is super easy, all you need is a clean pair of scissors or shears. It is best to prune it during the spring or summertime.
Follow the steps below to trim your Aloe:
- Sterilize your blade and cut the brown tips or snip off the entire leaf.
- When cutting the leaf off, make sure to trim it close to the base of the plant.
- Keep in mind that you never want to cut off more than one-third of the plant as over-pruning can cause it to wither away.
Ideally, you should repot it once a year when its growth becomes leggy or it is root-bound. You’ll know it’s time to transplant it when the roots protrude through the drainage holes or the plant begins to look limp. Furthermore, it is important to repot it when the houseplant begins to sprout offsets.
Keep in mind that when choosing your new container, it needs to be wider and not deeper as its roots are fairly shallow. Additionally, you should transplant it around springtime before the houseplant becomes dormant during the winter.
Below, we’ve listed the steps to repot your Aloe vera:
- Carefully remove the houseplant by loosening the soil and sliding it out.
- You may have to untangle the roots of the plant if it’s potbound.
- Take out a new container and fill it with some potting mix, and then plant the Aloe.
- Make sure that the roots are fully covered and the bottom leaves are resting on top of the soil.
- Water the plant well and place it back in its original home.
How to Harvest It
Harvesting the watery sap is easy to do. You can harvest it during the spring or summertime, just make sure that the houseplant is mature. We’ve provided you with a step-by-step guide below.
- Cut off 3 or 4 thick, healthy leaves. Use a sharp blade and snip them off as close to the base of the plant as possible.
- Rinse the leaves under a gentle stream of water and pat them dry with a damp cloth.
- Trim off the spikey edges and separate the interior gel from the outside of the leaf.
- Allow the gel to drain out of the leaves or you could carefully push it out the cut end.
How Much Sun Does It Need?
Just like many other succulents such as the jade plant, this houseplant loves to get plenty of sunshine. The Aloe vera thrives in a bright, sunny area.
When finding a home for your new houseplant, make sure that it receives an ample amount of indirect sunlight too. The harsh sun rays can scorch its leaves while a lack of sunlight causes leggy growth.
Top Tip: Every 2 to 4 weeks, rotate the Aloe vera to ensure that it has an even look and all parts of the plant receive an equal amount of sunshine.
It grows well in a cactus or succulent potting mixture. It is important that the soil has a neutral pH level of 7.0 to 8.5. You’ll need to plant it in some lightweight, sandy, and loose potting mixture.
To enhance the drainage of the soil and achieve the perfect mix, you can throw in some perlite, coarse sand, or gravel.
This houseplant doesn’t require heavy feeding and it can even do without being fertilized. Typically, you should feed it once during the springtime and once during the summertime.
You can use an all-purpose cactus or succulent fertilizer, or a water-soluble balanced fertilizer. You may want to dilute the fertilizer to half its strength in order to prevent a fertilizer overdose. It should be noted that newly planted Aloes must not be fed.
Top Tip: Avoid feeding your plant with a fertilizer high in phosphorus as it can cause damage to the roots and foliage.
Best Pot Size and Type
The pot’s diameter must be about 1 to 2 inches (2.5 – 5cm) wider than the rootball’s width, just like the cat palm. Additionally, the container must be shallow.
The best type of pot is a terracotta one because this material allows the soil to dry faster, which prevents root rot.
The perfect temperature range is between 55 and 80°F (13 – 27°C). It can cope with high temperatures, however, the same cannot be said for cooler temperatures. The Aloe vera cannot withstand temperatures below 40°F (4.4°C).
Aloe barbadensis Miller aren’t too fussy when it comes to humidity. The average household humidity will do just fine as long it isn’t below 40%.
Can It Live Outside?
This houseplant thrives in USDA hardiness zones of 10 to 12. You can grow it outdoors throughout the year if you live in those zones.
Here are a few considerations if you want to grow the Aloe outdoors:
- You may need to water it more frequently.
- It needs bright, indirect sunlight.
- If temperatures drop below 40°F (4.4°C) then move it back inside.
Does It Bloom?
The Aloe vera rarely flowers when grown indoors. When it does bloom outdoors, you’ll see yellow, red, and orange tubular blossoms. It typically blooms during the summertime.
If you want to encourage blooms you can make sure not to overfeed the plant, place it in an area where it’ll receive plenty of sunshine, and don’t overwater it.
How to Grow Aloe Vera
You can grow more Aloe vera plants by propagating them in soil and planting their seeds. For each of these methods, you’ll need to use sterilized tools. You should propagate it or plant its seeds during spring so that it’ll have enough time to grow and establish its roots before winter.
How to Propagate It
There are two ways in which you can grow your collection of Aloe barbadensis Miller propagate its cuttings or pups.
When planting your new Aloe, make sure that the soil is fresh and nutrient-dense. When propagating in water, you’ll need to use clean water and a sterilized jar.
You can propagate the Aloe vera in soil by planting leaflets and its offsets. Check out these simple methods below.
How to Grow It from Leaf Cuttings
You can use the leaves of the Aloe to grow a new plant. These leaflets can be snipped off and planted in a fresh potting mixture. We’ll divide this into two sections; how to cut the leaf and how to plant it.
How to Cut the Leaf
First, you’ll need to know exactly how to cut a healthy leaf before actually planting it. Below, we’ve put together a simple step-by-step guide.
- Use a sharp blade to cut a whole leaf or a part of it. When cutting the entire leaf, make sure to cut it close to the stem.
- You will need to cut it straight and without having a jagged edge.
- Place the leaf in a warm, dark room for a day to allow the cut area to callous over.
How to Plant the Cutting
Now, we can discuss how to plant your new cutting and grow a healthy Aloe.
- Take out a new container and fill it with well-draining soil.
- Plant the leaflets into the potting mix with the cut end facing down and mist it with cool water.
- Position it in a sunny area and keep the soil moist but don’t overwater it.
- After the leaves have grown and the roots have established themselves then you can care for it as you would a mature plant.
Propagation by Pups
You will need to split the houseplant in order to separate the pups from the mother plant. When dividing the Aloe make sure that you carefully handle its roots.
We’ll guide you through splitting the plant and growing the pups.
How to Split the Plant
Before splitting it make sure that your plant is healthy and mature. Dividing the plant will involve removing the houseplant and slicing the pups away from the mother plant.
- Slide the plant out and brush as much soil off the roots as possible.
- Next, you will need to examine the roots and untangle them.
- Use a knife or pair of pruners and slice the pups away from the adult plant.
How to Plant the Pups
Once you have cut your offsets you can place the mother plant in its original container and prepare to grow the offshoots.
- Dip the pup’s cut end in rooting hormone.
- Find a new pot and fill it with moist soil, and plant the offset.
- Water the pup after a few days and place it in a location where it’ll receive indirect sunlight.
- In 2 to 3 weeks, you can gently tug on the pup to test whether it has rooted.
- After the roots have established themselves then you can care for it the same way you would an adult plant.
Propagating in Water
Propagating it in water is not a reliable or successful method as the plant’s roots are likely to rot before growth occurs. If you like a challenge and want to test the method out then all you’ll need is a clean glass jar, a sterilized blade, and some water.
Follow the steps below to propagate an Aloe vera pup:
- Gently pull the plant out of its container and dust off the soil attached to the roots. You’ll need to do this so you can effectively examine the rooting system.
- Untangle the roots before you cut the pups.
- Take out a sterilized, sharp blade and slice the offsets away from the adult plant.
- Prepare a glass jar with room temperature water and place the offset in it, so the roots are submerged.
- It may take up to a month for new growth to appear, and during that time you will have to change the water every 3 days.
- Once the roots are long enough and new leaves have sprouted, you can transplant the pup in soil.
How to Grow It from Seeds
Just like the Yucca, this houseplant can be successfully grown from seeds. Ideally, you should plant it during the springtime and use either a mixture of peat moss and horticultural sand or a combination of perlite and compost.
Here’s a guide to planting Aloe vera seeds:
- Take out a shallow container and put some moist potting mixture in it.
- Place each seed on the surface of the soil and make sure they’re at least 1 inch (2.5cm) apart.
- Put a plastic bag over the container and place it on a heating tray.
- Spritz the soil to maintain its moisture.
- After two weeks, you can remove the plastic bag and take away the heating tray.
- Mist the seedlings for a month until new growth sprouts.
- You can treat this houseplant as an adult after it has grown at least four leaves.
How to Revive It
The Aloe vera can run into numerous health issues such as the leaves turning yellow or brown, the bending/drooping of the foliage, root rot, and soft rot. We’ll discuss how you identify each of these problems and how to revive your plant.
Why Is It Turning Yellow?
When its leaves begin to yellow you are overwatering it. Another culprit is cool temperatures as the plant cannot withstand the cold.
Simply, check that the saucer is empty and remove any excess water. Furthermore, you should adjust your watering schedule to avoid overwatering it in the future.
During the winter, you will need to find a warmer room to grow your houseplant if it is particularly cold.
The drooping and bending of leaves are caused by many reasons. We’ll draw up a short list below.
- A lack of sunlight
- Poor drainage
- Improper watering
- Cool temperatures
- A container that is too shallow
You will need to consider finding a new home for your houseplant where it’ll bask in bright sunlight. If you suspect that inadequate drainage may be an issue then replace the potting soil with a well-draining mixture.
The Aloe vera, much like the croton plant, is also sensitive to over- or underwatering. You may need to tweak the number of times you water it and feel the soil before watering the plant.
If you live in a cold region then make sure that your houseplant is grown in a sunny, warm area. It is also important that you use a container that allows the roots adequate room to grow.
Why Are the Tips Turning Brown?
You may notice that your Aloe’s tips begin to turn into a pinky-brown, and this may be due to overfeeding, overwatering, and exposure to direct sunlight.
The Aloe doesn’t require frequent feeding so make sure to only fertilize it around twice a year. You will have to flush the salts out of the soil by placing the pot under a stream of water for 10 minutes.
Additionally, if the soil is soggy then cease watering it until the potting mix has dried out. When your plant is exposed to direct sunshine, its succulent leaves can become scorched and burnt. It is important that you find a new position immediately to prevent further damage.
Root rot is caused by severe overwatering, and many plants such as the Kalanchoe are susceptible to it.
You can tell that your plant is suffering from this as its roots will become blackened and its leaves will turn into a brown color. The best way to combat root rot is to cut back any unhealthy tissue and repot it as soon as possible.
When dark spots begin to appear on the leaves, your poor houseplant is suffering from soft rot. This is a bacterial disease that is caused by too much moisture. When the soil becomes waterlogged, the foliage begins to turn black and become mushy.
With its many benefits, it is obvious why the Aloe vera is grown in homes across the globe. If you want to keep this houseplant healthy and happy you will need to create the optimal environment for it. Keep in mind that it thrives in sunshine, and doesn’t require too much water or fertilizer.
This plant is super easy to care for, and all of the TLC you give it is worthwhile as you’ll be gifted with its watery sap and lush foliage.