Answering Your Questions About Aloe Vera

We’re back with our third installment of our monthly series listing the top questions we get asked about popular plants. This month we are focusing on answering your questions about Aloe Vera, a plant with a purpose that I love and use on a regular basis.

Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis) is commonly called Aloe. There are over 500 species and varieties of the genus Aloe found the world over so this makes it one popular succulent.

Common Questions Aloe Vera

This is about growing Aloe vera indoors because the majority of people grow it as a houseplant. We get many questions regarding the care of Aloe vera so we have taken the most frequently asked ones and will be providing you with answers. I’ll be answering the questions here and you’ll see Brielle in the video at the very end. It’s a Joy Us Garden collab!

Our Q & A series is a monthly installment where we answer your most common questions on caring for specific plants. Our previous posts cover Christmas Cactus, Poinsettia, Pothos, String Of Pearls, LavenderStar Jasmine, Fertilizing & Feeding Roses, Aloe Vera, Bougainvillea, Snake Plants.

1.) Do Aloe vera plants need a lot of sun? Does Aloe vera grow best in sun or shade? Can you put Aloe vera outdoors for the summer?

Aloe vera does best in high to medium light. It likes sun, but no prolonged exposure. When growing indoors it should be at least a couple of feet from a hot sunny window. The reason being is Aloe vera leaves are full of water, so they can burn when in the direct hot sun.

Aloe vera doesn’t do well indoors in low light so don’t expect your Aloe vera to grow and do well in low light. Medium to high light is its sweet spot.

You can bring your Aloe vera outdoors for the summer but be mindful to keep it out of the hot, all-day sun. Also, if you live in a climate with rainy summers it’s best to keep it under a covered porch so it won’t be susceptible to rot from too much moisture.

Related: Growing Aloe Vera Indoors: 5 Reasons Why You May Be Having Problems, How To Care For An Aloe Vera Plant: A Plant With Purpose

2.) How often should I water my Aloe vera? What does overwatered Aloe vera look like? Does Aloe vera like top or bottom watering?

I can’t provide an exact watering schedule because I don’t know the size of the Aloe vera, the soil it’s in, or the growing conditions. I can tell you, however, to water it when the soil is dry. Remember those leaves and roots store water so watering too frequently can be deadly.

Some signs to look for if you think you overwatered are the leaves becoming mushy, leaves turning pale or opaque, and leaves drooping.

I’ve always watered my Aloe vera plants from the top and they’ve done great. I have no experience with bottom watering to share with you.

Related: A Guide To Watering Succulents Indoors, How to Plant and Water Succulents In Pots Without Drain Holes

aloe vera in pot with pups

3.) How long for an Aloe vera to grow to full size? How long do they live?

For your Aloe vera to get to full size it’ll need a lot of light. For instance, my Aloe vera grows outdoors here in Tucson and is 3′ tall by 3′ wide. It’s around 7 years old and has grown and spread by producing pups. I would hazard to guess when grown indoors it might not get as big or it would take a very long time.

The longest I’ve had an Aloe vera growing indoors is 12 years. I gave it away when I was moving from Santa Barbara to Tucson and took a few pups with me. I now grow those pups outdoors and they’ve grown into a big container plant. With good care, you can expect an Aloe vera to live 20 plus years.

4.) Should I cut brown tips off Aloe vera plant? Will brown/red Aloe vera turn back green?

You can cut the brown tips off if you’d like, but before you get to cutting envision what the plant will look like after the leaves get a blunt cut. If you don’t like looking at blunt cuts you can leave the brown tips on, which is my preference since it looks more natural.

Plants, including Aloe vera, change color when they’re environmentally stressed. For example, if the Aloe vera is in too much sun and heat it’ll turn orange/brown, and when the weather cools it will turn back to green. Aloe growing indoors doesn’t go through climate changes as when growing outdoors so this is not as common.

Check out our Aloe Vera Round-Up for all our posts and videos on this versatile plant.

5.) Can you use regular potting soil for Aloe vera?

I don’t recommend using regular potting soil as an Aloe vera would prefer a cactus and succulent mix because it provides better drainage and aeration. You’re going to want to plant yours in a potting mix that is chunky and well-draining.

If you decide to use regular potting soil I recommend adding perlite or pumice to aerate and amend the drainage. If you use potting soil, back off on the watering frequency because it’s a heavier mix.

Related: Planting Aloe Vera In Pots: Plus The Mix to Use, Succulent and Cactus Soil Mix For Pots: A Recipe To Make Your Own

aloe vera pups out of its pot to be repotted

6.) When should I repot? Should I water after repotting?

The best time to repot your plants is in spring or summer. Early fall is fine if you’re in a temperate climate with warmer winters.

After repotting, I keep succulents dry for 5-7 days to let them settle in before watering.

Related: Repotting Aloe Vera, A Guide To Repotting Succulents

7.) Can you root Aloe vera in water? Can you replant a broken Aloe vera leaf?

I’ve never rooted an Aloe vera leaf in water. The leaf itself is full of water so it doesn’t make sense.

Nor have I replanted a broken leaf.

My method of propagating Aloe vera is to remove the pups from the mother plant and plant them. This is commonly referred to as division.

Related: How To Remove Aloe Vera Pups From The Mother, Aloe Vera Pups Care & Planting Tips

close up of aloe vera

8.) How do I use fresh Aloe vera for skincare?

Aloe vera is widely known for its uses. The gel has come in handy for me as a topical ointment. This plant is truly multifunctional and can be used for more than just treating burns and rashes. You can also implement it into your beauty routine, for example, I apply the fresh gel once or twice a week in the first step of my morning routine as an added dose of moisture.

Related: 7 Ways To Use Aloe Leaves Plus How To Store Them

9.) Are Aloe veras hard to take care of?

No, as long as they’re in bright light and you don’t overwater them, these plants will be happy. I’ve grown Aloe vera indoors in San Francisco, CA, Santa Barbara, CA, and Tucson, AZ.

Related: Aloe Vera: An Easy Care Succulent to Grow As A Houseplant, Succulent Houseplants: 13 Problems You May Have Growing Succulents Indoors

10.) How to encourage Aloe vera to produce pups?

An Aloe vera plant will produce pups with age if the conditions are to their liking. I have always found that if an Aloe vera is growing sightly tight in its pot, the more pups it’ll produce.

Related: Aloe Vera Pups: Care And Planting Tips, Aloe Vera Propagation: How To Remove Pups From The Mother Plant

BONUS Question:

Why is my Aloe growing tall?

I’ve never seen an Aloe vera getting tall without getting wide. It may get taller and leggy if not getting enough light. This causes stress and the plant will reach toward the light source. With over 500 species of Aloe, another reason is that you might have another Aloe growing other than an Aloe vera.

Short video to these questions about Aloe vera

I hope the answers to these questions about Aloe vera have helped you out. It’s an amazing plant with so many uses.

Signed by Nell Foster

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