In the world of succulents, few species are as popular as aloe vera. The plant grows fast, easily, and, more importantly, comes with a wide array of benefits that no other succulent (or plant for that matter) offers.
Also called the First Aid Plant or even the Burn Plant, sometimes even the Miracle Plant, aloe vera is found worldwide, available in more than 400 species, and in products of all kinds. It is not a surprise, then, that you want to learn how to grow aloe vera at home.
Here, we’re going to teach you all the ups and downs of growing aloe vera plus a bit more. Interested to learn more about it? Then keep reading!
Types of Aloe Vera to Consider
First and foremost, what type of aloe vera do you want to grow? While most people only know the typical aloe with its large and thick leaves that drop to the sides, there are over 400 species to get. Here, we want to show you the most popular, attractive, and easiest to grow. Learn more about each:
Typical Aloe (Aloe Barbadensis Miller)
This is the one you probably know already, the one planted on your grandma’s house, used in commercials and products. You don’t need much to plant this one, as it grows almost anywhere. It grows almost anywhere and produces loose and thick green leaves as well as yellow flowers.
Arabian Aloe (Aloe Rubroviolacea)
The most drought-resistant of the aloe family, the Arabian aloe grows almost anywhere and produces blue-to-green leaves. Some of the spines or teeth on the leaves may achieve a reddish color, sometimes purple. It may grow red flowers in winter.
Stone Aloe (Aloe Petricola)
Capable of growing up to 4 feet tall and 5 feet wide, it is one of the largest aloes you can grow at home. The leaves tend to be blue-green (sometimes red to purple) with narrow-tipped shapes. These leaves typically turn inward instead of outward. The flowers it produces are often a mix of yellow and orange.
Mountain Aloe (Aloe Marlothii)
The name comes from the ability to grow on rocky places with little humidity. More interestingly, it grows large, capable of reaching over 19 feet in height in a natural space. This one may develop a tree-like trunk below the prickly and thick green leaves. It produces orange and yellow flowers.
Spiral Aloe (Aloe Polyphylla)
An exciting type of aloe, this one grows outward in a spiral form. The leaves go one after another to produce a spiral-like figure that can reach over 10 feet in diameter. Most of its leaves are green with red or black pricks on the tips. Its orange flowers can grow up to 3 feet.
Climbing Aloe (Aloe ciliaris)
Capable of reaching over 15 feet in height, the climbing aloe is one of the strangest yet most popular types. The plant grows the fastest of the species, producing red flowers within a couple of years. Its leaves are green and thin, sometimes producing dense bush-like shapes.
Aloe Candelabra (Aloe Arborescens)
Instead of the leaves growing thick trunks, it grows thin ones (thus, the name). Its leaves are usually thin and prickly, with a light green tone. It is another fast-growing type of aloe, and it can reach up to 10 feet of height in some cases. Of course, it produces high-reaching red flowers as well.
Cape Aloe (Aloe Ferox)
Boasting the thickest and fleshiest leaves of the aloe species, it can grow up to 10 feet tall and reach over 5 feet in width. Its flowers can get up to 4 feet tall from the leaves and boast an orange-to-red vibrant color. This species is highly resistant to drought-like environments.
Tiger Tooth Aloe (Aloe Juvenna)
It’s not easily found in natural spaces but extremely popular as an indoor plant because it needs less sun than other aloes. This one doesn’t usually go over 2 feet in height. The bright-green leaves are short and look menacing, but the prickly rarely have any edge. Sometimes, it grows white-dotted leaves.
Coral Aloe (Aloe Striata)
With extra-wide and smooth leaves, boasting a green color with red and brown shades, it can grow up to 4 to 5 feet in height. Because of its slow growth, the plant thrives almost anywhere, even under heavy sun exposure. It produces bright orange flowers that look like a small colorful bonsai.
Lace Aloe (Aloe Aristata)
Also known as the Guinea Fowl Aloe and Torch Plant, it generally grows white specks on its leaves. The leaves are often small but prickly, and it grows super-dense, producing a clump-like shape over time. This one doesn’t usually go over 3 or 4 feet in height. Yet, it has bright red-to-orange flowers.
What Does Aloe Vera Need to Thrive?
Now that you’re aware of the different types of aloe you can grow at home, it’s time to learn what do you need for that to happen. Here are a few factors to consider:
Depending on the aloe species you pick, you will have to get a pot of its size. But if the plant is still a pup (how small aloes are called), you can fare with a small terra cotta pot for months.
You don’t really need much space to help aloe vera thrive. In fact, it typically grows in the strangest of places (between rocks, on pebbles, etc.).
When it starts to grow, you may want to put the plant in a garden instead. If the species is small, then you can let it grow in the same pot forever.
Succulents thrive on unfertilized yet well-drained soil. That’s what you should strive for. That doesn’t mean a bit of fertilizer doesn’t work, but it’s way more important to keep the soil dry.
But it’s important to remember that it still prefers aerated oil. Not only because it helps keep the soil nutritious, but it also prevents root rot. On top of that, fertilizing too much can produce fungus and other unwanted effects.
If you want a decent experience, you can always use a succulent soil mix. It comes with the ideal nutrients and composition for the job while still preventing too much humidity.
Once again, aloe is a succulent. As most succulents (cacti, for example), they withstand dry environment without problems. Even in the driest of places, most succulents can thrive for weeks without a single drop of water.
This happens because they boast thick and fibrous roots that store water. But just like most succulents, the leaves and bodies of the plant also hold water. This makes them even more resistant to ultra-dry areas.
For that reason, if you water too much, you may produce root rot that often ends in death. Thus, you should water aloe vera only once a week (or once the soil dries up).
The natural habitat of aloe vera is an almost desertic and arid place. You can guess they thrive with a lot of sun exposure.
Most aloe vera species need at least 4 hours of sun daily. However, some species are more sun-dependent than others. Small ones typically need less sun.
We recommend placing the aloe in a bright place at home for the best results. If you spot any type of browning happening on the leaves, that’s a sign of overexposure. In that case, try to keep it more in the shade.
As a succulent, aloe vera thrives in high temperatures. The ideal temperatures are no less than 55 degrees and up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. However, you may still manage to grow aloe vera in colder and hotter areas without problems.
It is vital to protect the aloe vera from freezing temperatures, though. If you live in a place where winter frosts happen consistently, try to keep it away from unwanted exposure. The plant will go dormant in temperatures lower than 28 degrees Fahrenheit.
How to Grow Aloe Vera in 5 Steps
So, did you learn the ins and outs of growing aloe vera? If you have a better idea of what’s needed, then you should be ready to tackle the following steps to the letter:
1. Prepare the Planting Space
If you’re planting on a pot, you’ll have to rinse it. Scrub it out of any unwanted dirt first. Also, make sure it has proper draining holes. Otherwise, the moisture may stick on the root and cause rot.
In case you’re doing it directly in the garden, you must open a small hole instead. Be sure the soil is deeper than 3 feet so the water can drain well.
2. Ready the Aloe
With the planting area ready, you can now prepare the plant itself. Aloe vera doesn’t need much if you buy it directly from a nursery. You can leave it be on the same pot, and it should have no problem growing for the next few months.
But if you are growing from a pup (aloe baby) without pot, you should clean the roots well before potting.
For already-developed aloes that have tons of leaves and won’t be easy to put in a pot, then you can always trim them. To cut the leaves, make sure to cut as close to the center stem as possible.
In case you’re planting from an aloe with a stem, you may want to leave it like so and plant directly on the soil. If you need to cut the stem for space reasons, then do it partially. Otherwise, the plant may die.
3. Leave the Plant to Dry
Another essential thing to do is leave the plant to dry whether you’re growing from a pup or developed aloe. This will form a callus on the root to help it grow healthier after planting.
It is important to leave it under the sun through this process, but not much. Remember, the plant can’t eat from the soil as of now. If it gets too dry, it may eventually get sick (the leaves will turn yellow to brown).
4. Plant the Aloe
After finding the ideal pot and preparing the aloe, you should be ready to plant it. Here, you should start by filling the pot or preparing the area in the garden.
If planting on pots, fill it about a third of the container. Then place the aloe in. You can fill the rest of the pot now.
Whether you’re planting on a pot or directly in your garden, make sure you covered the entire root.
It is still essential to know that aloe vera leaves don’t like soil directly. If the leaves are buried or even touch the ground, they could rot.
5. Let It Grow
With the aloe vera planted, you can rest now. The plant doesn’t need much care apart from a bit of water after a week. Yes, only once a week of watering starts from the moment you plant the aloe.
This is not only because the succulent needs little water but because it will start to repair itself. After taking it out of its original growing space and leaving it to dry, the roots will need some recovery time. They will also start to get accustomed to the new soil.
While this happens, you should place it in a decently bright and warm place. Keep it away from freezing temperatures and rain during this period.
After 3 to 4 months, you will start to see how the plant thrives. Some pups may even begin to flower at this moment.
How to Take Care of Aloe Vera
With the aloe vera planted and growing, you must learn how to keep it thriving. This is easy because succulents require little to no care. But there are still many things you can do to ensure sustainable and consistent growth.
Keep Out of Weeds
One of the most important things to ensure is weed-free soil. Even though they naturally grow in heavily weeded and grassed places, they grow better with none at all. You should make sure the soil is sandy and loose. Pebbles can be an excellent addition to the pot or garden to prevent weeds.
Ensure Proper Sun Exposure
As we said before, aloe vera requires at least 3 hours of brightness a day. But how much would be the limit? In that case, you should check the leaves consistently.
For leaves that start to grow low and mushy, that’s a sign they need more sun. In contrast, if the leaves begin to get brown and burned in the tips, that’s a sign you need to reduce their sun exposure.
Keep Them Fresh
A temperature of 55 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for aloe vera. But make sure you can bring them indoors whenever the temperature goes either higher or lower than that. If you can maintain them fresh enough either in the winter or the scorching summer, you’ll have a thriving aloe vera.
Every time you water the aloe vera, you need to water as deeply as you can. This often means 1 or 2 inches of total water so the roots can receive the humidity well enough.
With that said, you shouldn’t water more than once a week. In fact, in humid places or during winter/rain seasons, you may need to water only once a month (or never if the plant gets naturally watered).
Fertilize A Little
Just like water, aloe vera doesn’t need much fertilizer. But it’s still recommended to add some once a year. This is especially useful if you live in an arid area where the soil is not especially rich.
While fertilizing, however, use just a bit. The ideal fertilizer should be half as powerful as the typical one to prevent any unwanted behavior.
Get Pups Out
After a few months or years of growth, the aloe vera may start growing pups. These little aloes will sprout around the plant, directly from its root.
If the plant is growing on a pot, it is advised to get the pups out once this happens. You should cut the pup directly from the root. If you want to replant these pups, cut without damaging the roots.
Growing aloe vera at home will feel like a piece of cake if you follow our advice above. While the plant is not necessarily difficult, you will be better off with proper guidance.
So, did you learn how to grow aloe vera? If that’s the case, there’s no time to waste. As a succulent, it takes a lot of time to grow and sprout flowers or pups. If you want to experience those, then start growing as soon as possible.
This will be an exceptional experience from start to end. And more importantly, it will be a care-free experience thanks to how sturdy and independent aloe vera is. What are you waiting for then? Get your hands dirty now!