Aloe plants (Aloe barbadensis) are possibly the world's most popular medicinal plant, according to Gerald Klingaman, a horticulturist with the University of Arkansas. These succulent plants are popularly grown in containers, and, when the need arises--usually in the form of a cut or burn--the leaves of the plant are split open, allowing access to the soothing sap within. Sometimes called aloe vera plants, they are native to Africa and range in size from a small potted plant to a large, tree-like succulent, depending on the species. All aloe plants, regardless of species, have the same basic care needs.
Plant your aloe plant outdoors only if you live in a subtropical or tropical climate, as freezing weather will quickly kill these plants. The United States Department of Agriculture lists such climates as USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11. Otherwise, grow your aloe in a container.
Choose a planting medium that contains a large percentage of perlite, grit, or coarse sand. Such a mixture will ensure that the soil does not hold water, which is vital to the life of the aloe, according to Jeff Schalau, associate agent of agriculture & natural resources at the University of Arizona. Many commercial mixes marketed for cacti will work perfectly. If planting outside, make sure the soil is loose and well-draining.
Place the plant is a sunny location. Indoors, a west- or south-facing window is best, according to Schalau. Outdoors, a location that features dappled afternoon shade will benefit the plant, as the hot, direct rays of the afternoon sun can sometimes scorch the wide leaves of the aloe.
Water your aloe plant whenever the soil dries out. Completely soak the planting medium so that the container drains freely or the ground is thoroughly saturated. Do not over-water, but be patient until the planting medium is dry to the touch again.
Fertilize your aloe vera plant early in the spring with a water-soluble, blooming fertilizer (10-40-10).