Common Name: Aloe, True Aloe, First Aid Plant, and many other species!
Botanical Name: Aloe species
Aloes are some of the best indoor plants for beginners because they require little care. The most challenging part about caring for an aloe plant is often leaving it alone. Aloe vera is commonly known as an effective home remedy for minor burns. Still, Aloe vera has a long history of being used for medicinal purposes dating back to the Egyptians. Wide varieties of aloe are showy, mottled, and simply irresistible if you love low-maintenance houseplants!
In nature, this succulent thrives in arid environments, although it can be found in tropical and semi-tropical areas. The upright spike-like leaves of the aloe plant grow in a rosette formation and provide a stark architectural look when plant styling. They will surprise you with alien-like, upright flower stalks when receiving ample amounts of light! Learn more about how to care for aloes! For you visual learners, watch our video about how to care for aloe plants!
Aloes like lots of bright indirect light, so they do best on a sunny shelf or near a window that provides over 6 hours of indirect sunlight each day. While aloe plants definitely like the bright light they can receive from a south- or west-facing window, make sure they are not so close that they receive any direct light as this can cause burns and their foliage to turn red or brown.
Aloe vera, aristata, ciliaris, and the 500 other species of aloe certainly need water, but they prefer to wait between watering and they don’t mind if you’re sometimes a few days late, (or more) with water. Let the soil completely dry out before you water your aloe plant. Lots of factors, like light and humidity determine how often an aloe plant will need water, but it is normal for this plant to go a couple of weeks between watering. When you do give water your Aloe plant, make sure it receives a nice long drink. If your plant is in a pot with drainage then water your aloe until water runs straight through. Make sure not to leave standing water in a cache pot or tray. Keep in mind that your Aloe vera may need less water during the colder months.
Aloe, succulents, and cacti require that their potting soil should contain more drainage materials (compared to soils for most indoor plants), such as wood chips, perlite, coarse sand, or pumice, to allow the water to drain quickly. Most bagged soil-less potting soil made for indoor plants will work fine but remember that you must let the soil dry out completely before watering it again. You can add cactus potting soil mix to your potting soil to help the water drain if you feel the roots are staying wet for too long! A great time to do this is when you need to re-pot them into a larger pot. Learn how to create your own potting soil for indoor plants!
Since it hails from warmer climates, the aloes prefer warmer temperatures. Generally, temperatures between 55-80°F, or comfortable room temperature is ideal. Aloe are cold sensitive, making them better suited as houseplants and not ideal for placement outdoors in most areas. Exposure to cold temperatures can cause significant damage, so aloe plants placed outside in the warmer months will need to be brought inside before chilly weather rolls in (under 40°F).
Dry environments are ideal for aloe to thrive and no extra humidity is needed. Try to place aloe plants in areas with low humidity and avoid placing them in kitchens or bathrooms which can have more dampness in the air.
Aloes are low-maintenance plants in all regards and that includes fertilizing. They can thrive in poor soils, but they do benefit from a feeding once a season. Give your aloe a boost of nutrition in the spring with a diluted complete liquid fertilizer, or top dress the soil with rich organic compost and mix it into the top few inches, then water! This amount of fertilizing should give enough soil enrichment for the year. Watch our video and learn when to fertilize your indoor plants!
Aloes are medium to fast growers once they are established. They rarely exceed 12" indoors, but they will spread and produce heaps of side shoots that can be split from the mother plants and made into new ones!
Pet Friend or Foe
Although aloes like Aloe vera are often consumed, and used for many medicinal and culinary purposes, they still can cause digestive problems. Other aloe species may be toxic!
- Aloe plants can be propagated by cuttings or through division. If propagating cuttings, let the cut ends callous over before placing the cut end in soil. An Aloe plant is ready for division when you see small plants, or pups, growing alongside the mother plant.
- Given the right conditions, mature aloe plants can bloom. The plants send up tall, thin stalks with clusters of tubular flowers known as an inflorescence. Aloe plants need lots of bright indirect sunlight to bloom.
- While the gel found in the leaves of Aloe vera is safe to use on burns and cuts and it is even used in some recipes for consumption, there is a thin layer known as latex that separates the gel from the exterior part of the plant. The latex layer can be harmful and potentially fatal if ingested.
- wait to re-pot your aloe as they love filling in their pot and being root-bound.
- The best time to re-pot your aloe is in the spring before it starts actively growing!