Many people complain that Aloe Vera plants are tough to grow. But once you get acquainted with the requirements, you will find that they are the most low-maintenance plants. But, you also need to understand Aloe Vera’s water requirements to keep it healthy.
In general, Aloe Vera requires watering once in 2-3 weeks during the summer season and once in 3-4 weeks during the winter season. However, you must check the soil before watering. Aloe Vera grows best when watered from the bottom because it helps the water reach the roots.
Today, I will answer some questions related to Aloe Vera watering. I hope your confusion will get cleared after reading. I will also elaborate on the proper protocol for watering an Aloe Vera plant.
Should I follow scheduled watering for Aloe Vera?
The best way to understand the watering needs of Aloe Vera is to check the soil’s moisture level.
When the top 2-3 inches feels completely dry, the plant is ready to take up more water.
For example, if you follow a scheduled routine for watering, it will work during the growing months but not on the hottest days of summer or cold winters.
When the temperature is too high during the summers, Aloe Vera will slow down their growth and become dormant.
In the winters, they must be kept dry.
Rather than following a routine, it is best to check the soil’s moisture level to understand Aloe Vera’s watering needs.
How often should I water my Aloe Vera plants?
In general, Aloe Vera requires watering once every 2-3 weeks.
But, depending on various factors, it is different.
To perform the correct watering with the right frequency, you must consider certain factors.
Indoor and outdoor watering
The leaves of Aloe Vera are thick and store water in them.
Aloe Vera succulents usually enjoy climates with frequent drought, infrequent rainfall, and full or partial sunlight, relying on the intensity.
Being acclimated to such weather, you must not overwater them.
It will rot the roots and kill them.
To give them the right water at the proper frequency, give attention to the watering needs according to their surrounding environment and mimic the drought conditions they are habituated to.
Generally, water them every 14 days during their growing periods.
It differs indoors and outdoors.
They get less sunlight indoors.
Thus, the watering frequency should be less.
Outdoors, the frequency will increase as, under the sun, they dry out faster.
If the humidity in their surrounding is high, Aloe Vera’s demand for watering will be less due to excess moisture.
Outdoors, the humidity is less.
Adequate airflow can decrease the humidity level, which is better outdoors.
So, they might need watering more frequently outside.
Indoors, the soil will take time to dry.
If the soil still feels moist after 14 days, wait for some more days to water.
Always let the soil dry before watering.
But if the top 1-2 inches are dry, you can give them water.
Whether indoors or outdoors, checking the moisture level before watering is the best way to give them water to your Aloe Vera.
It will prevent overwatering, root rot, and underwatering.
Root rot is one of the biggest threats to this succulent.
You must know that Aloe Vera also demands less water due to dormancy when the temperature gets too high in the summers.
This happens mostly with the outdoor plants as the temperature stays slightly under control indoors.
In the winters, too, you must keep the soil almost dry.
Aloe Vera plants enter dormancy during the hottest days of the summer.
Their natural technique of preserving water and energy during hot and dry days is their natural technique.
In dormancy, the plants switch off their growth mode and turn on their survival mode.
They don’t use any energy to absorb the water as they do not grow.
Usually, the plant slows down its growth when the temperature crosses 80°F and starts to retain the water.
Aloe Vera suffers overwatering most of the time during this dormancy.
Many people, especially beginners, are unaware of their resting period and suffer root rot.
To perform the correct watering during dormancy, water them once every 3 weeks or when the soil gets completely dry.
This will at least ensure the roots stay cool during such hot weather.
This routine will mimic the plant’s natural environment.
But, if the temperature remains within 80°F, water them once every 4-5 days.
But always check the soil before watering as it can be tricky.
Water them when the top 2-3 inches are dry.
There are many reasons behind watering little during the winters.
The first reason is temperature.
If the temperature stays within 55°F and the climate stays cool, the plants will reduce their growth.
The sunlight level and daytime will also reduce.
An adequate amount of light can help the soil to dry faster.
Due to the low sunlight level, the soil will stay moist for more days than the growing months.
If you continue watering them like the spring or fall, they will only experience overwatering and root rot.
If this happens, it would be hard to revive the plant.
To avoid such conditions, water the Aloe Vera plants once every 3-4 weeks.
Following this frequency will maintain a good balance.
It will neither let them stay dehydrated nor will they suffer overwatering.
The soil’s moisture level needs more checking during the winters and summers.
Good drainage can help
While estimating the right way and frequency to water an Aloe Vera plant, you must ensure drainage of the soil and the container.
If the soil fails to drain enough water, it will keep the roots wet for a long time and result in overwatering and root rot.
Since they naturally experience droughts, they won’t tolerate prolonged damp conditions and become susceptible to overwatering and rotting.
Aloe Vera grows well in sandy or gritty soil.
You can also use cactus and succulent potting mixes for containers as they contain porous materials like sand, grit, stones, perlite, and pumice that don’t hold moisture for a long time.
The same applies to container drainage.
Whatever planter you select for Aloe Veras, confirm that they have drainage holes.
Without a drainage system, the water will stay stagnant in the soil and keep the roots damp, thus resulting in root rot.
A drainage hole will allow good airflow and help you know you have watered the plant deeply enough to reach the roots.
Remember to empty the saucer beneath your container after the water drains out of the pot.
For further improvement, use terra cotta containers as they can wick away moisture.
Don’t use a big pot.
Use a pot size depending on the plant size.
Sometimes, many people use decorative cachepots to cover an ugly plastic pot with drainage holes.
These decorative pots don’t have any drainage holes.
When it is time to water the Aloe Vera, take the plastic pot out, water the plant, and let it drain out.
Put the pot back after the water has stopped dripping.
Watering according to age
The small and young Aloe Vera plants will need more water than the mature ones.
It is because the former is still growing.
The more water they get, the faster and healthier they will grow.
Depending on the weather conditions, you can water your Aloe Vera once every 5-7 days.
On the contrary, mature Aloe Vera plants need water to stand strong and stay hydrated and not for more growth.
Watering the cuttings and offsets
You must know the watering patterns if you have recently propagated Aloe Vera plants with cuttings or offsets.
First, you need to apply some charcoal over the cut portions to avoid infection.
Place the cutting in well-drained soil with proper ventilation in the surrounding.
Don’t water them by directly pouring the water.
Instead, moisten the soil by misting.
Once they develop roots, water them sparingly from the watering can.
Water the offsets every 3-5 days until they develop roots.
Once they get settled, reduce watering.
A root-bound plant with many offsets needs more water as they drink more water and become thirsty faster.
Watering during repotting
You must not water the Aloe Vera plants 2-3 weeks before re-potting.
After repotting, start normal watering after five days.
What should I do with an overwatered Aloe Vera plant?
Aloe Vera naturally grows seamlessly in the desert regions.
That is why they need dry conditions to thrive and are susceptible to excessive watering.
Too much water will keep the roots damp for a long time and result in root rot.
The reasons behind it are:
- Frequent watering without letting the soil dry.
- Poor drainage – soil and container
- Watering too much during dormancy and winters.
I have already discussed the right ways of watering related to these points earlier.
Go through them once to avoid such mistakes.
Signs of overwatering:
- Brown leaves because the roots fail to deliver nutrients to the plant due to suffocation.
- The leaves will have some brown blisters. This is called edema.
- The leaves will feel soft and mushy.
- Mould may develop on the soil surface due to prolonged dampness.
- The soil will release a foul smell in worse conditions, indicating root rot.
- Stop watering for some days after you see these signs. If the damage level is within limits, your plant will be back to normal.
- Let them have adequate light so that the soil can dry faster.
- It will be tough to revive the plant if they are undergoing root rot. But, revival is possible if the damage level is within 40-50%.
- Start the treatment when the plant shows the initial overwatering signs to avoid root rot.
- The next time, always check the moisture after they recovered and then water.
- If the plant is in a container, lift the container to check whether they need water or not. If the pot feels heavy, they don’t need water right now.
- Allow the soil to dry out before watering.
- Always use well-drained soil and a container with a drainage hole.
- Don’t use an oversized container.
What should I do with a thirsty Aloe Vera plant?
Aloe Vera can stay dry for a long time, store water in their leaves, and use it slowly as per need.
But, ultimately, they will need water to grow and stay hydrated.
Eventually, all the plants will need water to live.
This happens during various cases:
- Dry air and hot temperature.
- Small pots hold less amount of soil.
- The plant is under bright direct sunlight.
- Terra cotta pots can wick away moisture faster.
Signs of underwatering:
- The leaves will lose their thickness and become thin and dry.
- The roots will be brittle.
- The leaves will have brown tips and edges.
- The bottom leaves will turn brown or yellow.
- The leaves will begin to curl out of excessive dryness.
Solving underwatering is easier than overwatering or root rot.
- Give your plant a good drink.
- Water the plant deeply, close to the soil so that water reaches the roots.
- Avoid top watering as water rarely reaches the roots.
- Continue watering for potted Aloe Vera plants until the excess water drains out of the drainage holes.
- Always use a soil mix that is good in retention besides drainage.
How to understand when Aloe Vera requires water?
There are three ways to know when the plant is ready to take water:
- Check the soil’s moisture with a moisture meter.
- Poke your finger at least 2-3 inches deep. Check whether the soil feels dry or moist. If damp soil sticks on your finger, then you don’t have to water. But if there are dry flecks, water them.
- Lift the pot. A heavy pot indicates that the soil is still damp. A light pot means it’s time for water.
How to water the Aloe Vera plant? – The right procedure
Let’s understand the various ways of watering.
Watering from above
It is the traditional method.
Take a watering can and start pouring water all around the soil evenly and continue until the excess water starts draining out.
If the surface contains excess water, tilt the pot and pour it away to avoid fungal infections.
If you have any saucers beneath the pots, check it after every half an hour.
If there is water, empty it quickly and again place it back.
Make sure that you don’t drop the water in the center of the plant or the leaves.
Otherwise, it will promote fungal growth and rotting of the tissues.
Many people don’t recommend this because they splash water over the leaves, which is not the best for the plant.
However, there are other effective methods for watering Aloe Vera properly without such issues.
It is done by filling half a bowl with water and keeping the potted plant over it.
Only half of the pot should be in the water from the bottom.
The planter should have drainage holes so that the soil comes in contact with the water.
Wait for 15-30 minutes and bring the pot out of the bowl.
If the soil is damp, they have absorbed enough water.
But, if the soil feels dry, increase the timing gradually.
After that, let the water drain the excess water to avoid fungus growth.
The bottom watering is recommended mainly for the big and mature plants.
The big plants need water to reach the roots.
It is an effective method of watering Aloe Vera.
Over time, the soil dries out quickly and even loosens from the edges.
As a result, the water enters the loosening gap and doesn’t reach the roots.
That is why your plant still shows signs of thirstiness despite proper watering.
- Take a big bowl and fill it with water.
- Now, take the potted plant and submerge it in the water.
- Ensure that the water level is aiming up at the container’s brim.
- The plant base should not touch the water.
- After some time, you will see bubbles.
- These are the air pockets.
- The water gets into the soil and pushes the air back out.
- Let them sit for 10-20 minutes, and then take it out.
- Allow the pot to sit on the saucer to drain out excess water.
- Check the saucer after every 30 minutes and empty if there is water.
Watering and fertilizing
You can use liquid fertilizer at the time of watering.
Feed the plant during the second half of the spring when they grow actively.
Always moisten the soil before fertilizing because fertilizing over dry soil can burn the roots.
Never feed a weak plant, offsets, cuttings, or recently repotted or recovered plants.
Do not fertilize Aloe Vera plants if you are using them for medications.
What quality of water should I use for Aloe Vera plants?
Water quality is also important when it comes to watering Aloe Vera plants.
Tap water is something you must avoid as they contain harsh ingredients like chlorine, fluorine, and other bicarbonates.
These can harm your plant and deteriorate their health.
To determine the right type of water, keep a few things in mind:
Quality: It must be pure and free from these minerals.
You can try rainwater or distilled water.
You can also buy spring water from the market.
If you cannot get it, let the tap water sit overnight, and then use it.
All these harsh minerals can evaporate within this time and make the water safe for use.
Temperature: Always use tepid or room temperature water.
As water temperature can change with the season, check on it, especially during the summers and winters.
During the spring, the temperature of the water should remain within 68-72°F.
Water pH level: As Aloe Vera enjoys light acidic soil, you can add a little bit of lemon juice or vinegar to the water (2-3g per liter of water).
What does a healthy Aloe Vera plant look like?
- The plant is green all the time.
- The leaves are standing straight and not drooping or wilting.
- The roots are white
- The leaves will have a perfect texture.
Always check the soil’s moisture level and let it get dry before watering. Also, take care of the drainage. This will avoid overwatering.
Water your Aloe Vera carefully during the summers and winters. Though they are drought-tolerant plants, they will eventually need water to stay healthy and hydrated.
Use the right quality of water. Instead of trying top watering, go for the bottom watering and soaking watering methods to see good results.
Reference: NCBI, New York Botanical Garden, University of New Hampshire, University of Florida, Wikipedia.