Aloes are praised for their soothing and healing qualities and are used for treating burns, sun damage, and wounds. Most of us are familiar with this succulent and its presence in various skin and hair care products.
Aloe vera needs bright sun, well-drained soil, infrequent watering, occasional fertilizing, and warm temperatures. Under unfavorable conditions, it can get mushy and discolored leaves, stunted growth, root rot, and pest infestations. Provide proper care to avoid these conditions.
Keep reading this article to learn about the Aloe vera’s origin, features, care tips, problems, and ways to solve it. So, let’s start without further delay.
Aloe Vera plant – An overview
Aloe Vera belongs to the Asphodelaceae family.
They are shrubby perennial xerophytic succulents.
Aloes grow in the dry areas of Asia, Africa, America, and Europe.
Aloes originated from Sudan.
Famous historical characters like Cleopatra and Christopher Columbus relied on Aloe Vera for its excellent healing properties.
Aloes were also referred to as “Burn Plant,” “Lily of the Desert,” or “Wonder Plant.”
In 2100 B, the record of Aloe Vera benefits was showed up in a Mesopotamian tablet.
In 1550 BC, Aloe Vera’s medicinal properties were noted down and documented.
An Egyptian text elaborated on how to use it internally and externally.
In 70 AD, the Greeks used this succulent to fix wounds, hair loss, and other problems.
In 1820, the U.S. Pharmacopeia declared that we could use aloe Vera gel to protect the skin.
Today, Aloe Vera is used widespread worldwide for topical and internal uses.
Aloes are found in over 400 species.
The name generally comes from the Arabic word, “alloeh.”
Alloeh means shining and bitter substance. Vera means true in Latin.
Aloes are generally pea-green in color.
They have triangular, thick, and fleshy leaves with serrated edges.
They also produce yellow or red tubular flowers holding many seeds.
One single leaf is comprised of three parts:
- A gel that stays inside the leaves: It consists of 99% water, and the rest are amino acids, lipids, glucomannans, sterols, and vitamins.
- A yellow sap called latex is bitter to taste: It has toxins like glycosides, anthracene, and anthraquinones. If ingested, it causes low blood pressure, diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, muscle cramps, and breakdown of red blood cells.
- A thick layer on the outer side of the leaf has 15-20 cells, called rind. They have protective functions and produce carbohydrates and proteins. The inside of the rind has vascular bundles, which help transport the xylem and phloem.
Aloe leaves are upright and form dense rosettes.
They can grow about 24-39 inches long.
Are Aloe Veras indoor plants or outdoor plants?
Aloes will grow both indoors and outdoors if given the right care.
Some people grow them outdoors for sufficient sunlight.
Some gardeners grow them indoors because they like room temperatures.
But it doesn’t matter where you grow them.
If you give them all their requirements properly, they will grow indoors and outdoors and easily accept the surrounding environment.
Benefits of Aloe Vera
Aloes can be beneficial in various ways:
- Consuming 1-3 ounces of Aloe Vera gel relieves gastroesophageal reflux disease.
- Aloe Vera extracts are used as an alternative to chemical-based mouthwashes. It also eases swollen gums or bleeding.
- Drinking two tablespoons of Aloe Vera juice every day reduces blood sugar levels.
- The whole Aloe Vera leaf extract is considered a natural laxative and helps digestion.
- Aloe Vera gel can moisturize our skin and keep it hydrated. Most of us have it in our skincare routine.
- A compound in this plant, named Aloe-emodin, helps fight breast cancer diseases.
Aloe Vera varieties
There are many varieties of Aloe Vera. Let’s take a quick look.
|Aloe Vera varieties||Identification|
|Aloe barbadensis||This is the common and true Aloe Vera plant found in most houses. The green leaves have a smooth texture with white flecks on the surface. The gel is the best remedy to calm down our skin and improve our hair.|
|Aloe Caesia||This is a hybrid Aloe Vera plant. It has beautiful blue-green leaves with spiked copper-red borders. The beauty gets enhanced when the plant produces dark red blooms.|
|Aloe Variegata||Also known as Tiger Aloe, this variety is an attractive one. The leaves are fleshy and waxy, with white-green blotches all over, resembling a tiger’s stripes. It becomes more attractive when they grow pink and orange flowers in the spring.|
|Spiral Aloe||This Aloe is one of the most eye-catching Aloe Vera, among other varieties. Their leaves are designed brilliantly in a spiral shape. In the summer, the orange or yellow flowers add extra beauty to the plant.|
|Carmine Aloe||It looks outstanding with orange-colored serrated borders at the edges of the leaves. This unique feature makes them an eye-catching Aloe plant among the crowd. The leaves are jelly and knobby-textured along with white patches. It also has a hybrid variety that can tolerate drought conditions. So, you can go easy on watering.|
Planting Aloe Vera
When to plant?
The best time to plant Aloe Vera is spring. As it is their growing season, you can soon witness their growth within a few months.
However, you can also grow them in the summer if the temperature stays within 60-75°F.
If the temperature crosses 80-90°F, the plant will go dormant.
In such conditions, you cannot see any growth in them.
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Where to grow them?
Aloes can be grown both indoors and outdoors.
But certain things require consideration while growing, that is, light, temperature, and humidity.
Wherever you grow Aloes, there must be adequate sunlight, a warm temperature ranging around 55-75°F, and low humidity around 30-50%.
Let’s share with you some ideal places both indoors and outdoors.
For indoor plants:
- Choose the south or west-facing window. It gives sufficient sunlight. This direction is best during winters.
- Fix shading nets if the sunlight gets harsh in summers.
- For less intense sun indoors in summers, you can try the north or east-facing windows.
- Avoid bathrooms, kitchens, aquariums, or fireplaces, as these areas have very high humidity.
- Avoid areas close to heaters, radiators, ovens, and air conditioners as too much heat or cold air can stress them.
- Away from pets and children
- Keep them in your bedroom or study room as they produce oxygen at night, improve your breathing air and encourage a relaxing sleep.
- Keep Aloe Veras in your house’s north or east direction for good Vastu.
For outdoor plants:
- Again, for Vastu, plant them in your garden’s north or east direction.
- Choose a spot that receives enough sunlight throughout the day with some shade during the mid-day or afternoon.
- Choose a location where the soil is sandy. It helps in drainage.
- A place away from rooftops or fountains, so water doesn’t splash over the soil bed.
- An isolated place where the pets and children won’t loiter much.
- A place where tall is not very close because the dewdrops can keep the soil bed and the plant saturated and wet, thus causing fungal diseases.
- A slightly open space so that the plant can receive enough air circulation.
How to plant Aloes?
For planting Aloes in the ground:
- Choose an ideal location in your garden.
- Tilt the soil bed to add some porous ingredients for drainage.
- Dig a hole according to the size of the roots.
- Place the plant in it and spread the roots.
- Cover the roots with the soil and press the sides.
- Water after a few days. Make sure that it is not getting direct sunlight for some weeks.
For potted Aloes:
- Take a container with drainage holes and size depending on the plant.
- Fill half of it with the ideal soil mix. You can also add some pebbles at the bottom. This won’t allow the soil or debris to block the drainage hole.
- After filling the container halfway, place the plant in the middle and spread the roots.
- Cover the roots with soil and press the sides slightly.
- Keep them under indirect sunlight and water them after a few days.
Aloe Vera care guide
Now, let’s begin with the basic requirements:
In general, Aloe Veras need bright sunlight for 4-6 hours and protection from the harsh sunlight mid-day and afternoon.
The Aloes will require more light in winters than in summers because it keeps them warm.
Fix shading nets for outdoor plants if they receive harsh sun, especially during summers when the temperature exceeds 80-90°F.
They will be dormant and won’t require so much light.
For indoor plants, fix transparent curtains, bring them a few feet back from the window or shift them to the north or east-facing window.
Low light issues can occur indoors. Use artificial light.
But still, the plant will require a minimum of 3-4 hours of sunlight.
Aloe Veras don’t require frequent watering because Aloes are native to arid areas and can store water in the leaves.
In general, Aloes require watering once every 2-3 weeks.
But, it differs depending on the seasons or plant maturity.
The Aloes need watering once every 1-2 weeks in dry summers.
But, they won’t require so much if the temperature exceeds 80-90°F because the plant will go dormant.
Check the soil and water them to maintain hydration.
Decrease watering in winters because the slow evaporation rate and the daylight hours are less.
Due to this, the soil won’t dry quickly.
Watering once a month can help to keep the soil almost dry.
Instead of following any strict routine, check the moisture level with a moisture meter.
If 2-3 inches of the soil are dry, provide water to the plant.
It helps in understanding the watering needs better, especially for beginners.
Once you excel in it, follow up a routine accordingly.
The outdoor Aloes will need more frequent watering than the indoor ones because they receive more sunlight and airflow.
Due to this, the soil dries faster.
- How To Water Aloe Vera Plant? (How often, Summer, Winter)
- How Do You Revive An Overwatered Aloe Plant? (Complete Guide)
If the soil remains wet despite following the right watering schedule, it holds the moisture instead of draining it.
Without sound drainage, the water stays stagnant around the roots and results in overwatering or root rot.
A commercial cactus and succulent potting mix are great for the Aloe vera plant.
If you want to make the soil mix yourself, try the following:
- Equal parts of sand, potting soil, and peat moss
- 3 parts potting soil, 2 parts pumice, and 1 part peat
- 1 part loam, 1 part sand, 1 part perlite, 1 part pumice, and 1 handful of pine bark fines
- 1 part potting soil, 1 part sand, 1 part perlite, and 1 part or half part compost
- 2 parts sand or perlite, 1 part coco coir or sphagnum moss, and 1 part vermicompost
Type of container
Three things require consideration when you choose a pot:
The container must have drainage holes to drain excess water.
Without drainage, the water will remain in the soil, and the plant will get overwatered.
Drainage holes also allow airflow to reach the soil and dry faster.
The size should be 1/3rd bigger than the plant’s root.
A small container causes root-bound and compact roots.
When root-bound, rarely any soil is left.
As a result, the water roams about the pot and drains quickly, thus causing dehydration.
If the roots grow out of drainage holes, it blocks the potholes.
The water stays in the soil and causes root rot.
For aiding the Aloes in drainage, use terra cotta pots.
It is made of porous materials and can wick away moisture quickly.
If you have excelled in watering, you can use any type of pot.
Aloes can thrive in sandy soil.
But, without some nutrients, the plant will become weak.
Potassium, phosphorus, calcium, iron, and magnesium are some nutrients that help in healthy growth.
Occasional feeding encourages the plant’s fast growth.
Fertilize Aloe Veras during the spring and summer (if the temperature is within 75°F).
For the outside Aloes in the ground, drench the soil bed once every 6-12 months.
It will be enough for the whole year.
Feed them with slow-release fertilizers every 6-8 weeks if your Aloes are in containers.
The NPK value should be 10-40-10.
If you are using liquid fertilizer, apply it once a month.
Never fertilize during winters because they won’t take up the nutrients that much due to slow growth.
You can also use homemade fertilizers like banana peels, eggshells, potato peels, Epsom salt, etc.
They won’t harm your plant much.
Aloes grow best when the temperature is within 55-75°F.
Above 80-90°F, the plant will go dormant.
This happens especially with the outdoor Aloes because they are exposed to the outside environment.
Don’t keep the indoor Aloes close to air conditioners to cool them down.
That will give them cold injury.
During dormancy, reduce watering and protect Aloes from the harsh sun.
Since Aloes rest during dormancy, they will not accept excessive water, light, or nutrients.
Aloes cannot tolerate low temperatures.
They will get frost and freeze damage.
The water stored in the leaves will expand, freeze and burst. This will damage the cells and tissues and kill the plant.
If you live in a frosty region, grow them in containers to bring them inside when the temperature drops.
Fix frost clothes for garden Aloes to prevent the frost from touching them.
Add stones on the soil surface to trap the warmth and prevent the cold weather from reaching the roots. Don’t water them for a few weeks.
In the morning, let them have direct sunlight to warm them up.
Fix the frost cloth in the evening when the weather gets cold.
Indoor Aloes might not receive so much cold.
So, you may continue watering but not too much.
Don’t keep them close to heaters, radiators, or ovens for warmth.
Keep them near the south or west-facing window for direct sunlight during the day.
Aloes enjoy dry weather. Humidity should remain within 20-50%.
High humidity is common indoors due to a lack of enough sunlight and airflow, which is not a problem for outdoor plants.
- To maintain the right humidity, ensure they receive enough sunlight and at least 4-5 hours of natural light.
- Ensure enough air circulation around the Aloes.
- Keep them away from the tropical plants as they enjoy high humidity.
- Avoid areas like bathrooms, fireplaces, or aquariums as these are high humid areas.
Aloes can also endure humidity below 20%, but that’s unnecessary.
Extremely low humidity will forcefully wick away the moisture and cause frequent dehydration.
Aloes are generally considered fast-growing succulents.
The outdoor Aloes receive lots of sunlight which is the main requirement for faster growth.
Repot them once every 1-2 years.
But indoor Aloes won’t grow as fast as outdoor ones.
They take 3-4 years to reach 8-10 inches.
So, you can reduce the repotting frequency.
The time of repotting is not important, but repotting is essential for the plant’s good health.
It saves them from getting extreme root bound, which can cause overwatering, dehydration, and stunted growth.
These problems occur because the roots fight for space.
Repotting also gives a chance to separate the pups and propagate them.
Propagation is an economical way to get more Aloe Veras without buying.
Aloes are propagated from offsets, leaf-cutting, and seeds.
Aloes produce multiple pups once they mature.
- Separate them once they become 1/4th-1/5th the size of the mother.
- Plant them in well-drained soil and don’t expose them to direct sunlight.
- Water them after a few days.
- You can also propagate pups in water. Dip half the root in water and expose the rest to the air.
- The water must be distilled water or rainwater. Change it after every 2-3 days.
- For leaf propagation, cut a healthy mature leaf from the outer side.
- Let it heal for some days to prevent rotting.
- Next, dip the cut end into the rooting hormone and plant it in well-drained soil.
- Water the soil slightly and keep them under filtered sunlight until its establishment.
- After a few weeks, you will see new roots.
Leaf propagation in water doesn’t show good results.
In most cases, the leaves will shrivel and die.
For seed propagation, either wait for the plant to flower or buy seeds online.
- Collect the seeds once the flower dies and store them in an envelope in a cool and dark place. The temperature shouldn’t go above 41°F.
- Spread them and cover them with a thin layer of the soil. Mist the soil with water and keep it at a location with indirect sunlight and not direct. The seeds will take time to sprout, so wait patiently.
Aloes can also be propagated through rhizome and stem cuttings.
Go through our propagation article for more information.
Aloes bloom in the spring or summer if they are healthy.
The outdoor plants have more chances to bloom.
The outdoor Aloes get more sunlight and can also participate in pollination.
The indoor Aloes don’t get these chances.
But, still, you can force bloom them.
Put them outside under partial sunlight. It will also give them a chance for pollination, which is an important factor in blooming.
Once the flower dies, remove them.
This will stop them from absorbing the nutrients, keep the plant healthy and promote further blooms.
Trim the Aloe Veras to extract the gel.
Cut the healthy and mature leaves because they can give you a lot of gel.
Always make the cut close to the stem.
The leaves won’t grow back from the same place.
But they will grow from the center.
The place from where you cut will remain empty unless a new offset grows to fill it up.
Also, remove the dead and dried leaves.
This will consume all the nutrients from the healthy parts of the plant and soil.
Don’t cut the leaves from the middle or tip. It won’t regenerate.
Instead, the cut part will heal and turn brown after some days.
Keep Aloes away from pets and children since they are the most curious creatures.
Aloes contain a yellow sap called latex, having toxins like anthracene, glycosides, and anthraquinones.
If ingested, it causes vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, muscle cramps, breakdown of red blood cells, and reduction in blood pressure.
But the gel is not toxic.
It has 99% water, and the rest are amino acids, lipids, glucomannans, sterols, and vitamins.
It is used for treating cuts, burns, skin care, and hair care.
Even if you use it in the wound of your pets and they lick it, it won’t harm them.
Aloe Vera problems
The plant will face issues despite proper care because we sometimes make mistakes.
Let’s see what complications they will face.
Yellow or brown leaves
Yellow and brown leaves occur due to overwatering, root rot, underwatering, lack of nutrients, temperature fluctuations, pests, and diseases.
- Stop watering and let the plant have enough filtered or partial sunlight if it is mild overwatering.
- Also, ensure the drainage system of the soil and the container.
- If Aloe suffers severe overwatering or rotting, repot them in a new container with new soil.
- Provide the plant with fertilizer if they show signs of nutrient deficiency.
- To treat underwatering, give the plant a good drink.
- Don’t expose the plant to extreme temperatures.
- Keep them away from doors and windows that are frequently opened and closed. The air drafts will enter and stress them.
We will talk about pests and diseases later on.
The leaves of an Aloe Vera plant will turn red due to direct sunlight, lack of acclimatization, improper watering, heavy soil, improper fertilization, bug infestation, or cold stress.
Aloes indeed enjoy direct sunlight, but they cannot tolerate the harsh rays, especially during the mid-day and afternoon.
The red color is a pigment called anthocyanin.
The plant produces the pigment to protect itself from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
The same thing will happen when you suddenly change the position of the plant.
To solve the water issues:
- Stop watering for some days.
- Follow the same for fertilization.
- If it’s not well-drained, check and replace the soil or add porous ingredients like sand, perlite, or pebbles.
- Go through the requirements discussed earlier.
In the case of cold stress, take the plant indoors when they turn red.
Or, give them adequate protection by fixing frost cloths and adding pebbles to the soil surface.
Soft and mushy leaves
The Aloe leaves will become soft and mushy due to overwatering or root rot.
Other reasons are high humidity, wrong container, low light, poor soil, sunburn, or cold injury.
Aloes don’t require high humidity.
It increases the moisture level and makes the leaves mushy.
It should remain within 30-50%.
Lack of sunlight reduces the evaporation rate and keeps the soil wet for a long time.
It will show the same results as overwatering and poor drainage.
A container must have drainage holes to drain the excess water.
Without drainage holes, the soil will stay wet for a long time and cause mushy leaves.
When the plant gets exposed to cold weather, the water inside the leaves expands to freeze and bursts.
It damages the cells and tissues, makes the plant mushy, and develops black spots.
Take the outdoor Aloes indoors if they are in containers or if your region receives frost.
If they are in the ground, fix frost cloths daily in the evening and increase the gap between watering.
Black spots and black leaves
Black spots occur due to Aloe Rust, Anthracnose, Basal Stem Rot, and Leaf Spot Disease.
Except these, it could be temperature stress, watering issues, sunburn, fertilizer issues, or infestations.
Black leaves also have the same causes as improper watering, dry air, bad soil, frostbite, fungal diseases, etc.
- If you are unsure about fertilization, avoid it because Aloes can thrive in poor soil. Rather, use homemade fertilizers to stimulate their growth.
- Never fertilize them during the winters or dormancy. Always feed them during their growing months.
- Let the humidity remain within 30-50%. Extremely low humidity forces the moisture to dry faster, thus causing dehydration. Though Aloes can tolerate dry conditions, extreme dryness weakens them. So, maintain the right humidity and don’t keep them dehydrated for several months.
It occurs due to lack of light, poor drainage, poor watering habits, cold temperatures, chemical shock, and frequent repotting.
Diseases like Aloe Rust or Bacterial Soft Rot can also cause the same issue.
- Never repot the Aloes before it is time. If you have recently done it, wait for at least 1-2 years to repot them further. Frequent repotting shocks them and prevents the plant from adjusting to the new environment.
- It is tempting to use chemical products frequently like fungicides or pesticides. People think that repeated applications might work faster. But, you are causing harm to the plant. Frequent use of these products shocks the plant’s system and thus causes the leaves to fall off, even the healthy ones.
No growth in the plant
Lack of light, excessive moisture levels, low temperatures, root-bound, overcrowding, or infestations are common reasons behind the problem.
Sometimes, it is summer dormancy.
Aloes must get enough light, adequate water, average temperature, and humidity.
Repot them in time to avoid root-bound and remove the offsets timely to avoid overcrowding.
Check the plant for pests and diseases and treat as required.
- Give them their ideal requirements to improve their growth speed. Adding some banana peels also stimulates their growth.
- They will stop growing when the temperature crosses 80-90°F. Scale back watering, protect them from the direct sun, and don’t fertilize. Since they sleep, they don’t consume much at this time, like during their growing time.
Aloe pests and diseases
Bugs like aphids, scales, spider mites, and mealybugs will stay and breed in your plant if conditions are favorable.
These insects make the plant discolored, weak and prone to diseases.
They also release honeydew and make the plant sticky. Over time, it can lead to sooty mold.
Aloe mites develop galls in the plant.
It is a cancerous growth, and resolving it is next to impossible.
To get rid of bugs:
- Shower the plant. It works for those bugs that enjoy dry conditions.
- Stop watering for some days as some bugs enjoy cold and wet conditions. Dry conditions will force these bugs to leave your plant.
- Handpick the scales if the infestation is few. Scales also leave behind brown bumps. Remove them with fingernails or tweezers.
- Dab rubbing alcohol on the infected areas. It weakens the shield of mealybugs or hard-shelled scales and kills them.
- Spray Neem oil on the infected area. It is safe and works for all bugs.
- Release ladybugs and mantis. They will feed on the soft-bodied bugs and make your plant bug-free.
- For Aloe mites, remove the cancerous growth parts soon before it spreads. Otherwise, you’ll lose your plant.
- If the infestation is huge, use insecticidal soaps and pesticides. Read all instructions carefully and then use.
Aloe Rust, Basal Stem Rot, Anthracnose, Leaf Spot Disease, and Base Rot diseases are some fungal and bacterial diseases that weaken your Aloe and even kill them.
Leaf Spot Disease
Symptoms are leaves having small dark brown spots, which will grow and turn black over time.
Prolonged damp areas cause this disease.
To get rid of it:
- Quarantine the plant and shift them to a low humid area. It will reduce the moisture level and keep the soil dry.
- Apply fungicide to the infected parts to kill all the invaders.
- Avoid watering for some days until the soil dries.
- When you begin watering after recovery, avoid splashing on the leaves. Water close to the soil.
- Remove the damaged parts and throw them far away. Don’t use them as compost.
The disease occurs when the plant is warm and wet.
They spread through splashes of water.
Symptoms are dark green, oval-shaped leaves.
The center of the lesions becomes brown and black over time.
To get rid of it:
- Remove the damaged parts. Discard them in the dustbin.
- Apply liquid copper to the infected area once a week in the morning.
- Spray Neem oil once a week until the signs of the disease diminish. Do it in the evening as exposing the plant to the sun while using this oil can burn the leaves.
The disease spreads through the wind.
The initial signs are:
- Yellow spots turn brown over time.
- Orange spore masses under the leaves.
To get rid of it:
- Stop watering for 1-2 weeks and let the soil dry.
- Remove excess water from the saucer of potted Aloes.
- Shift them to a bright location and dry environment.
- Maintain proper air circulation around the plant.
Basal stem rot
The disease occurs during cold weather and increases if you continue watering it.
Signs of damage are reddish-brown signs at the base, and the stems have dark spots.
To get rid of the disease:
- Clean the roots to watch their condition of it.
- Remove the mushy and brown roots.
- The plant may survive if there are any healthy roots present.
- Also, remove the infected stems and leaves.
- Spread some fungicide to the infected areas and repot the plant in a new container with new soil.
- Don’t water them or expose them to direct sunlight for a few weeks.
Bacterial Soft Rot
Common symptoms are:
- Dark and damp spots on the leaves.
- Defoliation of the lower leaves.
- A bad rotting smell.
There is no confirmed treatment for this disease.
You can save the plant if few good leaves are left.
Cut them and propagate them.
Search for the pups and propagate them.
If all leaves got damaged, discard the whole plant.
Let Aloes have bright sunlight for 4-6 hours per day. Protect them from the harsh sun. Water them only when the top 2-3 inches of the soil is dry. Reduce watering during summer dormancy and winters.
Use well-drained soil and maintain pH levels around 5.5-8.5. Fertilize occasionally during the growing months. Maintain temperature within 55-75°F. Protect them from cold weather. The humidity should be between 20% and 50%, neither too low nor too high.
Propagate to get more Aloes. Give the right requirements on time to witness flowers. Take immediate steps for the problems, pests, and fungal diseases.