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Aloe plant care indoors is super easy as long as you follow some important plant care tips. After all, you have to be aware of the likes and dislikes of each type of plant. One size does not fit all in houseplant care!
Aloe is also special because you can also use it as a skin care and medicinal plant as well! I will give you some tips and resources on these topics after I give you a run down on aloe plant care.
Aloe Barbadensis vs. Aloe Vera
I’ve often been wondering which one is the correct name for this commonly grown succulent.
According to the International Aloe Science Council, Aloe vera and Aloe barbadensis are names for the same plant. So whatever you want to call it, it refers to the popular medicinal plant that has been grown and used for many purposes.
Aloe Plant Care: Light Requirements
I’ll just keep using Aloe vera to refer to this plant since that’s what most people call it. There are many species in the Aloe genus, but we will focus on Aloe vera in particular.
Aloe plants like a lot of sun so be sure to give them as much sun as you can, especially if you are growing them indoors.
It’s funny because I’ve heard of many people say that their aloe plants do better indoors in areas with less sun, but I will keep elaborating on this topic throughout the post.
The ideal exposure to grow aloe is southern exposure, if you are lucky to have them. I grow mine in an East facing window and it works well also, but if I had an appropriate southern window, it would definitely go there.
My grandmother-in-law gave me this plant and it thrives in an Eastern window.
Whatever you do, the bare minimum requirement for this plant is that it MUST be in front of a window. These plants are not ones to be placed far away from any window. They are succulents and must have very bright conditions.
I recently had a friend that was trying to grow an Aloe vera at work and it was growing at a desk far from a window. Not an ideal situation!
If you want plants that can grow in darker conditions, be sure to read my blog post which talks exactly about this topic!
Now, let’s say that you’ve had your plant growing indoors and it looks good. Then you move it outdoors into blasting, full sunlight when it is warm enough…
You proceed to then watch your plant suffer and burn. This does NOT mean that Aloe doesn’t like sunshine. It just means that you didn’t harden off your plant.
You need to gradually acclimate ANY plant when you move it to brighter conditions outdoors. It needs to first stay in complete shade for several days, and then gradually increase the level of direct sun little by little.
I’ll refer you to my blog post on hardening plants off to ensure that you don’t roast your beautiful houseplants that have thrived up to that point 🙂
Aloe Plant Care: How Often to Water Aloe
Gotcha! Those of you that follow me closely on my blog, and on Instagram (@ohiotropics) know that I will never recommend a frequency of watering and I will never tell someone how often to water aloe.
Why? Because it depends! You should never water your houseplants based off of frequency. You should water them when they actually need water.
So how do you know when you should be watering your aloe?
I like to wait until the soil completely dries out before watering my Aloe plants. Use your finger and feel the surface of the soil.
If it is the slightest bit moist on the surface, then hold off! Do not water it at this time.
But when do you water, water it very thoroughly. Soak the soil completely.
Many people get watering very wrong, especially when it comes to succulents. They are so afraid to “overwater” and only add a little bit of water.
Check out my blog post about overwatering. You will become a much better plant parent just by reading that article. The term overwatering is very confusing so my blog post will clear up all your issues!
Overwatering does not mean what most people think it means. So don’t miss my blog post on this critical topic. It will help you not only with growing Aloe vera, but with any houseplant.
If you don’t have your aloe plant growing in bright conditions, your plant will have reduced growth and not able to use the water that you give it quickly enough.
Houseplant care is about having a combination of good conditions. You can’t have good, healthy growth on your houseplant without a balance of the correct light, correct watering, correct potting mix, good drainage, etc.
Which brings us to…
Aloe Plant Care: Best Soil for Aloe
There is no ONE soil that is a miracle soil. There are many ways to achieve a good potting mix for your aloe plant, but the things you need to keep in mind that are most important are:
- You must have a well-drained soil
- Your soil must dry out relatively quickly
Let’s actually talk about the second point first before I talk creating a well-drained soil for your aloe.
What factors allow your soil to dry out quickly (outside of the actual soil mix itself?)
LIGHT – If you grow this plant in dark conditions, forget about it. Find another plant. I will only lead to disappointment.
Aloes and other succulents need bright conditions. This ensures better growth and faster water usage by the plant.
POT TYPE and SIZE – Terra cotta pots dry out much quicker. Avoid repotting into pots that are too big. This will cause the soil to take too long to dry out.
Ok, now let’s talk about a good potting mix for aloe. There are many different combinations, but I like to keep it simple and have a couple different materials on hand so I can adjust as needed depending on the plant I’m repotting.
This is a good rule of thumb. If you’d like to adjust the ratio, do whatever works best for you. I’ve enjoyed using this ratio for my succulents.
Some succulent experts recommend half cactus soil and half pumice. This created an extremely well drained soil, but it also means that you will have to water more frequently as a result.
In the end, you will need to experiment as far as what works for you and your conditions.
Be careful though. When it comes time to repot your Aloe, only go up one pot size. For example, if you have your aloe in a 4 inch pot, you should only go up to a 5 or 6 inch pot. No larger!
You can get by with not fertilizing aloe, but plants will do better if you give them a little more attention!
If you plan on using the aloe gel as a nutritional supplement, or to apply onto your skin, I would only recommend using organic fertilizers.
I’m a huge fan of Neptune’s Harvest Fish & Seaweed fertilizer. I only use this product outdoors though because it does have an odor to it.
If you don’t want to use the aloe gel and are only growing the plant for ornamental purposes, I like to use the Schultz Cactus Plus (2-7-7- formulation) for all my succulents and cacti.
Aloe Plant Babies
Propagating Aloe vera plants is super easy.
All you really need to do is wait for your plant to produce pups from the base.
Check out the babies in the plant above. I grew the original plant from a bare-root pup that I got for free at a local seed exchange.
You can gently separate a pup once it is big enough. I would say to wait until the pup is about 3-4 inches long or so.
Simply sever the pup from the mother plant, somewhere below the soil line. Allow the pup to air dry for a few days before rooting it. This is so that the cut callouses over and minimizing rotting.
This technique is mostly only for succulents so don’t do this for every plant. It is critical for succulents though.
For my plant in the photo above, all I did was dip the base in rooting hormone and placed it right into soil in a 4 inch terra cotta pot. Then I placed it in an Eastern facing window.
Water it lightly, and wait until the soil is just about dry again before watering again. Go easy on the watering until you can see that the plant is starting to grow.
Sometimes, despite our best intentions, our aloe plants can have issues. Let’s look at some common problems below that you might be having with your plants, and what you can do to make them better!
Aloe Vera Plant Care Problems
Aloe Vera Plant Turning Brown and Soft
If you have any brown, soft, mushy spots on your Aloe, it is likely that your plant is staying too wet.
This can be caused by a variety of things:
Not using a well drained soil
Repotting into too big of a pot
Your Aloe isn’t getting enough light
Keeping your Aloe in a pot with no drainage holes
Keeping your Aloe too wet and too cold
Are you doing any of these? If so, correct what is wrong immediately and adjust your care.
Aloe Vera Plant Leaves Bending and Has Weak Growth
If your Aloe has weak, floppy growth, and perhaps even leaves that are bent or creased, the most likely cause is not enough light.
Move your plant to a brighter window. Preferably one that has at least some direct sunshine. Aloes like very high light!
Aloe Vera Plant Leaves Deflated
If your leaves are looking deflated, or flattening out a bit but are not mushy, you probably have poor watering practices and have kept your plant too dry.
So that’s it! Hopefully these tips will help improve your aloe plant care indoors.
Have you been successful in growing aloe indoors?