Aloe vera is a beautiful, low-maintenance succulent. Its leaves are well-known for their gel, used for soothing skin problems like sunburn. Ancient Egyptians referred to it as the ‘plant of immortality’, as apparently, Cleopatra used it as part of her beauty routine.
Aloe vera plants have a rosette of succulent leaves with slight spikes along the edges. They rarely flower in the UK, but in warmer climates they produce clusters of yellow, tube-like flowers on an upright stem.
This is our complete care guide for a thriving Aloe vera.
Aloe Vera Care
Aloe vera thrives in bright sunlight. It will tolerate direct sun more than most houseplants, but too much direct light can burn the skin of the leaves.
Temperature and humidity
This succulent will grow well in warm, dry environments. It naturally occurs in arid, tropical, and semi-tropical environments. Therefore, it shouldn’t be in low temperatures or exposed to cold draughts. Generally, the natural temperature and humidity in your home will be fine for this plant.
Let the soil dry out completely between watering as Aloe vera is very susceptible to overwatering. When you do water your plant, thoroughly soak the soil and let the excess water drain from the bottom of the pot. Always make sure your Aloe vera isn’t sitting in water as this can lead to root rot. If you think you’ve overwatered your plant, click here for our article on saving an overwatered houseplant.
Aloe vera – like other succulents – grows well in sandy, well-drained soil to mimic its natural environment. Slightly acidic soil is preferable, but not completely necessary. Regular houseplant soil will likely need amendments like perlite and horticultural grit to be better suited for Aloe vera. Alternatively, you could use pre-mixed cactus soil.
Naturally, this plant would grow in nutrient-poor soil so doesn’t need to be fertilised. If you want to boost its growth, however, use a normal houseplant fertiliser once or twice a year in the warmer months.
Pruning and rotation
You’ll only need to prune an Aloe vera plant to remove dead or damaged material. Other than that, it should be left to its natural growth.
If you need to remove a dead or damaged leaf, use a clean cutting tool to prune along the base of the leaf. Where possible, only prune the leaves on the outside of the rosette.
Repot this plant when it becomes root-bound. Detangle any compact roots and choose a new pot that will provide 1-2 inches around the root ball. Fill in the space around the roots with soil, tapping the side of the pots to remove any big air pockets in the soil. Water the plant thoroughly to help it establish in its new home.
Pests and diseases
Look out for typical houseplant pests like mealybugs. Aloe vera is also susceptible to specific pests like aloe scale and aloe mites. If you notice any pests, wipe the leaves with a damp cloth and spray the plant with water or an insecticide solution. You may also need to prune out any heavily affected leaves.
Aloe vera can also be subject to diseases like rust and bacterial rot. Watch out for any unusual symptoms like yellow spots – which will turn brown over time with rust. To avoid bacterial rot, be careful not to overwater your plant.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Why are my Aloe vera leaves turning brown?
Leaves turning brown at the base may be a sign of rot. Remove any affected leaves and examine the roots to check for rot. If the roots are soft and brown, they’re rotting. If there is a significant amount of healthy roots left, remove the damaged material and treat the remaining roots with a hydrogen peroxide solution to kill the bacteria.
Should I leave my Aloe vera outside in the summer?
If you live in a region with consistent warmth in the summer, leaving your Aloe vera outside is a great idea. However, it’s generally recommended to leave it inside as a houseplant year-round to avoid the risk of temperature shock.
How should I prepare my Aloe vera before I go on holiday?
As this plant is so drought tolerant, you shouldn’t need to prepare it in any way before you go away. If you’re going away in the summer, make sure your plant has had a good drink before you leave. Using a self-watering system would likely lead to overwatering, meaning you come home to mushy leaves. It’s safer to ask somebody to water your plant once a week when it’s hot rather than leaving it with constantly moist soil. If it’s in the winter, watering while you’re away is not a concern.