The essential guide to caring for aloe vera plants

The essential guide to caring for aloe vera plants

Aloe vera plant care is very easy, so even novice gardeners can keep this beneficial indoor plant alive. But that low-maintenance look can be deceiving. Growing aloe vera requires a little effort. This desert plant thrives in bright, indirect light and very dry soil, so you’ll need to find the right spot in your home — and avoid overwatering it. He won’t tell you he’s experiencing any leaf drop either. Once you settle into the right routine, it’s worth it. The healthy aloe vera plant has funky leaves that look as interesting as the leaves of any succulent or aloe, plus it contains a gel that you can harvest for many beneficial uses, from treating sunburns to making your own moisturizer.

If you have an aloe vera plant at home or plan to buy one soon and want it to last, you need to know how to care for it properly. Ahead, Jane Stearns, owner of Seattle plant boutique Urban Sprouts, which specializes in landscaping and maintaining indoor landscaping, shares her expert tips on aloe care and how to keep your plant alive and healthy.

Aloe vera 4″
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Burgess Hove tabletop planters for indoor/outdoor use
Burgess Hove tabletop planters for indoor/outdoor use
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Anthropologie Bella Watering Can in Orange
Anthropologie Bella Orange Watering Can

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Mix aloe vera and succulents
Mix aloe vera and succulents
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Expert in caring for aloe vera plants


The aloe vera plant resembles a cactus and is used in very hot and dry climates. This means that it is susceptible to overwatering. Instead of sticking to a weekly schedule, check the water level in the soil before giving your plant another drink. Stick your finger or wooden skewer into the soil an inch or two; If you still feel some moisture, wait a few more days before watering. You want to let the soil dry completely first.

Sunlight and placement

Keep your aloe vera plant in a location with bright, indirect light. Despite its desert origins, cacti can suffer from sunburn if they are suddenly exposed to a large amount of light. If your aloe vera plant is sunburned, you will see a white or light brown discoloration on the green leaves. Once burned, the leaves will remain that color.

Aloe vera is also sensitive to sharp fluctuations in temperature. Keep your plant away from doors and windows exposed to drafts, especially in the winter. This also means that you should not place your plant directly in the path of air conditioning or heating vents.


Aloe vera is a succulent plant, so soil with adequate drainage is absolutely key. A succulent soil mix is ​​ideal, but you can also choose regular potting soil and mix it with perlite or sand.

Temperature and humidity

Cactus are native to arid and tropical environments, which means they like warm weather. Specifically it prefers temperatures between 55 and 85 degrees. Aloe vera does not tolerate frost, so if you planted your plant outside, you will need to move it indoors during the colder months. Aloe vera does not require any additional moisture; Your standard indoor air conditions are good.

How to replant an aloe vera plant

To determine the appropriate pot size, measure an inch or two larger than the root ball or nursery pot. A larger pot ensures that your plant’s roots can expand and grow without smothering each other. You should also place your plant in a well-drained pot. You can use rocky soil, drainage rocks, or a pot with a hole in the bottom. All you have to do is make sure your plant’s roots have enough room to breathe.

Can you propagate aloe?

Yes! You can prune the pups (branches that grow at the base of the plant) and place them in their own pot to grow a new aloe plant. Pups already have their own root system, so there is no need to sprout or germinate them before transplanting them. Simply place the pots in a sunny window and be patient – ​​it may take three or four months for the propagated leaves to take root and new growth to begin.

How to harvest aloe

Freshly harvested aloe vera gel is great for treating skin irritations and sunburn. However, aloe plants grow very slowly. If you plan to harvest your plant’s leaves to make gel, you should wait until it is 6 to 8 inches tall and has 10 or more leaves before you start trimming any of it. When they get big enough and you want to use some, select the leaves from the bottom and work your way up. Once a leaf is cut or removed, it will not grow back. All new growth will come from the top of the plant.

Common Issues with Aloe Vera Plants

Pests and insects

Aloe vera can fall victim to mealybugs, aloe vera scales, and aloe mites, but water and neem oil cannot treat it. Mealybugs congregate at the base of the plant; You can get rid of them by spraying them with a strong stream of water and wiping the plant with a damp cloth. For mites, prune infested tissue to keep your plant and any other plants around it safe from harm. Aloe vera scale looks like gray bumps along the edge of the leaves. Although it is not fatal to the plant, it is unsightly. Wipe your plant with a mixture of insecticide, rubbing alcohol, and water.

Tender leaves

Overwatering is a very common problem for succulents, especially cacti. If you notice that your plant’s leaves are soft to the touch, you are overwatering it. Move the plant to a sunny location and stop watering it for a week or so until the soil dries out. In severe cases, overwatering can lead to root rot, which no amount of sunlight can fix.

Break the leaves

Aloe vera leaves are known to bend and break, but they are not supposed to break easily. This condition tells you that your plant is not getting enough light to grow tough, healthy leaves. Move the plant to a bright spot for a while. A windowsill or under a grow light is great.

Frequently asked questions about the aloe vera plant

Is aloe vera aloe vera?

No, aloe vera plants often look similar to aloe vera plants, but they are succulents.

How long do aloe vera plants live?

With proper care and the right environment, aloe vera plants have a lifespan of up to 12 years. However, aloe plants can live outdoors for up to 20 years, especially if they are grown in an environment that mimics their natural desert habitat.

Photo of Kate MacGregor

Kate McGregor is the SEO editor at House Beautiful. She’s covered everything from curated decor collections and shopping guides, to glimpses into the home lives of inspiring creatives, for publications like ELLE Decor, Domino, and Architectural Digest’s Clever.

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