How to Care for Aloe Vera

A comprehensive look at care, watering, and other requirements of the Aloe Vera plant

By Tobias Holm
How to Care for Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is a common houseplant that contains a gel that is used in a variety of consumer products such as beverages, cosmetics, and ointments and mild burns or sunburns. It is considered toxic if ingested. How do you care for Aloe Vera?

Aloe Vera plants need direct bright sunlight and do not require frequent watering making them easy houseplants to grow. When properly cared for they can produce a flower but that is rare for indoor plants. They are normally used for their Aloe Vera gel.

Below we will look at how to care for your Aloe Vera plant and what care they require.


Aloe Vera is a short-stemmed plant that has bulky green leaves that grow out of the center stem of the plant. The edges of its leaves have small teeth on its edges. It will require bright and direct sunlight. Too much sunlight, however, can cause it to dry out and its leaves will turn yellow so it may require more frequent watering sessions.

The gel from the leaves of Aloe Vera should only be used externally. It is considered toxic when consumed by people or pets. It will cause nausea and indigestion and may be toxic in larger quantities.


Aloe Vera requires plenty of bright and direct sunlight or artificial light. Plants that are kept in insufficient light conditions will cause them to droop and lose their bushy appearance.


Aloe Vera is part of the succulent family and requires a well-draining potting mix. You should avoid using gardening soil, instead use a mix that contains a good mix of bark, lava rocks, and perlite.

It is not necessary to add gravel or another material to the bottom of the mixture to promote drainage. This will take away from the space that is available for the root system. A singular drainage hole in the bottom of the pot will be sufficient for drainage.


The most challenging part of tending to an Aloe Vera plant is watering. They are accustomed to low water environments but they will still require a sufficient water supply. They should be watered deeply but allowed to dry out between watering schedules. If the soil is permitted to stay wet and not allowed to dry out it can promote rotting of the root.

The top few inches of the planting solid should be fully dry before you add more water to your plant. This should equate to a 2 to 3 week gap watering cycle in the warmer months and even longer in the colder months. It may be necessary to double the time between watering before watering when the temperatures are colder.

When you water your Aloe Vera, water may escape from the bottom of the pot. You should allow the soil to remain in the water for a short time to allow the soil to retain as much water as possible before allowing the water to drain away.


Aloe Vera requires temperatures between 55 and 80°F. The interior of a residential apartment or office should be sufficient to maintain your plant. You can place your plant outdoors during the warmer months but you should remember to bring them back indoors if the temperature is expected to drop at night.


Aloe Vera does not require frequent fertilizer treatments. They should only be fertilized once a month, but only during the summer months. A houseplant fertilizer can be mixed at a 50/50 ratio and will be sufficient to supply your plant with the nutrients it needs.


The Aloe Vera plant does not require regular pruning. If you are attempting to keep their shape and limit their growth you can cut off the older outer leaves. Any diseased or damaged leaves should be removed to help the plant grow.

If you wish to harvest Aloe Vera from your plant, you should remove the outer leaves for gel. Plants that are 3 years or older are better used for this. They contain more gel than younger plants and can recover quicker as well.


Aloe Vera plants produce offsets that are known as plantlets or pups. They can be removed to produce an entirely new Aloe Vera plant. These pups can be removed with shears or scissors where they are attached to the plant.

After they are removed they will need to sit in the sun out of the soil for several days. This will help the cut heal and help prevent rot from forming when it is replanted. Once the cut has formed a callus you can pot them with the standard succulent potting mix.

After they have been replanted you should leave them unattended for at least a week before you can water and care for the new plant growth.

Growing From a Seed

The Aloe Vera must be older than four years old before it can produce a seed that can grow into a plant. Some plants may take over a decade to produce viable seeds.

To harvest the seed from your plant you must need to be removed from a pod. The pod will be brownish when the seed can be removed. The seed should be grayish-brown or black. Light-colored seeds are not ready to grow into new plants. The seeds taken from a plant should be planted less than a year after removal from the pod.

They should be planted in a well-draining mixture similar to that of adult plants. Lightly dampen the soil before placing the seed inside. In warm climates, they can be grown outside, but in other areas, they will require heat to keep them at 75°F. They should stay on the heat source for at least two weeks to develop roots.

Planting or Repotting

Before you can replant or repot your Aloe Vera you need to pick the right container. Pots that are made from terra-cotta or similar material will help the soil dry between watering. It should also have at least one drain hole in the bottom of the pot. This will help any excess water drain out. Lack of drainage causes root rot and is the most common death of the plant.

If your plant has pups you should remove them before replanting. If it has a long spiny stem it is possible to trim the stem before replanting. Trimming the stem may be fatal for the plant, it should not be done unless necessary.

Fill at least ⅔ of the pot with your potting mix before planting your Aloe Vera plant in the pot. Continue filling the pot leaving about ¾ in at the top of the pot. The bottom leaves of the plant should be just above the soil. You should not water the plant and leave it to settle for at least a week before watering to allow the roots to begin growing.

Pests and Diseases

Aloe Vera are susceptible to mealybugs and scale. Mealybugs are not harmful to humans. They appear as white fuzz at the bottom of Aloe Vera plants. They can be treated with water and rubbed off. Scale is shown as gray bumps or ridges on Aloe Vera plants. They are rarely harmful to the plant but will need to be treated to rid the plant of scale.

Aloe Vera is also susceptible to root rot, soft rot, fungal stem rot, and leaf rot from overwatering. Ensure the soil of your plant dries out between watering to avoid these conditions.

Getting Aloe Vera to Flower

Mature Aloe Vera plants produce a tall, flowery spike called an inflorescence that produces yellow or red blossoms. This bloom is rarely seen in some houseplants because it requires lots of light, plenty of water, and the correct temperature.

To get your Aloe Vera to flower, It will need as much light as possible, especially at the beginning of the growing season. It will need to get the correct amount of water as well. Do not allow the soil to dry out completely but do not overwater your plant either. You will need to find the correct balance between the two.

Your Aloe Vera plant will also need to give your plant rest in the fall and winter. They tend to bloom in the late fall or early winter with cooler temperatures. Giving them a period of cooler temperatures and less frequent watering may help them to bloom. These efforts may fail, however, as most indoor plants can not reach the ideal conditions that cause them to bloom.


Aloe Vera are popular plants that produce a gel that can be used on cuts and skin burns. Their gel should only be used externally and can cause vomiting or indigestion when consumed.  They require bright sunlight, infrequent watering, and warm temperatures to survive. They are susceptible to root rot from overwatering. Their soil should dry out between watering to avoid root rot or other harmful conditions.

Aloe Vera can produce a flower but this is rare in indoor plants unless they receive plenty of sunlight, adequate watering, and warm temperatures.

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