If you’re looking for a low-key houseplant to grow at home, an aloe plant might be the ticket. These succulent plants have vibrant, fleshy leaves that look stunning…even if you happen to neglect them a bit. That said, knowing how to care for aloe plants will help you keep these plants looking as healthy as possible.
Join us as we cover aloe plant care basics as well as information on how to grow these plants in containers and in your garden.
How to Care for Aloe Plants
Whether you’ve bought an aloe plant at a nursery, received a plant from a friend, or ordered an aloe plant from our selection of plants for delivery, you’ll need to know how to care for your new friend! Follow these care tips to keep your green guy happy.
Since aloe plants are succulents, they like their soil on the drier side. While they can handle periods of drought, they will not appreciate sitting in constantly moist or wet soil. That means it’s better to err on the drier side when it comes to watering your aloe plant.
The amount you’ll need to water your plant will depend on factors such as temperature, humidity, light, and time of year. That said, you can plan on watering your aloe plant about once every one to three weeks.
A good rule of thumb is to water your plant once the top two to three inches of soil is dry. Add water so the soil is saturated, and then wait until it dries out before you water again. While this plant can tolerate brief periods of dry soil, it’s best to water before the soil becomes completely dry.
Temperature and Humidity
Aloe plants are native to much of Africa as well as some islands in the Indian Ocean. Therefore, they like warm temperatures. Aim to keep the air temperature between 60–85°F in order to keep your plants happy. While aloe can withstand brief periods below 60°F, you should make sure they aren’t exposed to temperatures below 40°F.
As far as humidity goes, aloe plants like their air on the drier side. Average home humidity is typically fine, and so is drier air. If you have a humidifier for other types of tropical houseplants, it’s best to keep your aloe plants in a separate, drier location.
Aloe plants love, love, love bright light! They need to receive at least six hours of bright light each day in order to thrive. They can tolerate both indirect and direct light as long as they have time to acclimate to any changes in light.
Placing your plants beside a south-facing or west-facing window is often a good option. Or, you can set them in the interior of a brightly-lit room.
Aloe plants don’t require much fertilizer and can be harmed by over-fertilization. Aim to apply a balanced houseplant fertilizer once in the spring. Make sure to properly dilute the fertilizer before applying it to the soil.
Aloe roots tend to grow out rather than down, which means these plants thrive in shallow and wide pots rather than narrow and deep pots. When an aloe plant has become rootbound, it’s often better to pot it up into a wider pot than a deeper pot.
To repot, gently remove the aloe plant from its current container. If you’d like to separate any small plants known as “pups” from the mother plant, now’s the time. Simply grasp the base of the pups and wiggle them free from the main plant. Once the plants are separated how you’d like, add the plant to the new container, fill in the empty space with potting mix, and water well.
If you’ve ever grown aloe before (or seen a monster aloe plant at a friend’s house or nursery), you’ve probably seen small plants popping up around the larger mother plant. These lil’ offsets, affectionately known as pups, make aloe a breeze to propagate.
To create a new aloe plant, start by cutting one of the pups away from the mother plant—you’ll want to use a sharp knife or pair of pruning shears and cut right at the soil surface. Lay the cutting in a dry area out of direct light and allow it to rest for a few days. This will allow the cut end to heal. At this point, the pup is ready for its own home. Place it in a well-draining potting mix and care for it as you would any other aloe plant.
Managing Pests and Diseases
Aloe plants are susceptible to many of the same pests as other houseplants. Small pests such as aphids, thrips, and spider mites pierce the aloe plant’s leaves and then suck out the sap. While a few of these pests won’t cause serious damage, it’s best to remove them before they multiply. You can wipe off the pests with a soapy rag or spray them with insecticidal soap.
These succulent plants can also be infected by various fungal pathogens, many of which thrive in moist conditions. The best way to prevent these diseases is by keeping the soil and air on the drier side.
Caring for Aloe Plants in Containers
If you want to add an aloe plant to your home, you’ll obviously be growing your houseplant in a container. However, you can also grow outdoor aloe plants in pots or even move potted houseplants between the indoors and outdoors.
One of the most important aspects of caring for aloe plants in containers is choosing the proper soil mix! Since aloe is a succulent, it can handle periods of drought. However, it absolutely hates sitting in wet soil. That means you’ll need to choose a well-draining potting mix that allows excess water to escape.
Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to find potting mixes that are designed for succulents and cacti. Using one of these specialty mixes is a good way to ensure your potted aloe plant is happy. You can also start with a basic peat-based potting mix and blend in some sand and perlite to increase drainage.
You’ll also need to select an appropriate container. While materials including ceramic, plastic, and terra cotta are all appropriate, the container needs drainage holes. You should also choose a container that is on the shallow side since excess soil can remain wet.
Caring for Aloe Plants in the Garden
As mentioned above, aloe plants cannot tolerate cold temperatures. However, if you live in a warm climate where temperatures rarely dip below 40°F, you can try growing aloe plants in an outdoor garden.
If you’re going to plant aloe in the ground, you’ll want to ensure the soil is well-draining. If your natural soil appears to hold water, you can mix in some sand and/or compost to help increase drainage.
You should also ensure that the area where you plant your aloe receives lots of sun. Remember that aloe plants need at least six hours of bright light in order to thrive!
Types of Aloe
While people often use the term aloe to refer to Aloe vera, aka Aloe barbadensis Miller, the Aloe genus actually includes more than 650 species! Here are some types of aloe grown by gardeners and houseplant enthusiasts.
Krantz Aloe (Aloe arborescens)
This type of aloe is known for its tall form (it can grow up to ten feet tall) and bright red flowers. Due to its size, it’s often grown outdoors in warm areas.
Spiral Aloe (Aloe polyphylla)
As its name suggests, this species is characterized by its spiral leaf arrangement. The short and squat leaves have spiked edges.
Tiger Tooth Aloe (Aloe juvenna)
This petite aloe sports stunning rosettes of green leaves with white spots. The leaves have curved spikes which resemble tiny tiger teeth.
Keep Your Plants Happy
It’s not surprising that plants make us happy. But keeping our green friends happy is sometimes a bit more challenging! Now that you know how to care for aloe plants, take a minute to learn how to take care of some other popular plants. Check out our guide on snake plant care and learn all you need to know about caring for bougainvillea. And if you’ve really become inspired by this guide to caring for a succulent plant, think about ordering one of our succulent bouquets for yourself or a friend!Shop All