Care for an Aloe Vera Plant

Overview

Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis) is just one of 250 species of aloe plants. Aloes are members of the lily family. This slow-growing, succulent plant features 2-foot long fleshy leaves in a rosette pattern. The green leaves are edged with soft spines. Once mature, the aloe vera plant produces an 18-inch stalk from the center topped with a spike of yellow tubular flowers. Individual flowers are about 1 inch long. Aloe vera does best when grown as a houseplant because of its need for dry, warm soil and heat.

Step 1

Plant your aloe vera plant in the center of a terra cotta plant pot using a soil mixture of equal parts sand and potting soil. Terra cotta causes moisture to evaporate from the roots quickly and allows air into the soil.

Step 2

Change the soil in the plant pot every two to three years to refresh the soil's nutrients. Use a fresh mixture of one part potting soil and one part sand to create a good draining, dry soil mixture.

Step 3

Place the aloe vera plant in an area with full sunlight. Keep the temperatures around the plant warm. Aloes are warm-climate plants so they need heat to thrive. Keep the area draft-free so that cooler temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit do not harm the plant.

Step 4

Water the aloe vera once every two weeks during the growing season. Pour water through the plant pot so that it drains out the bottom. Wait for the soil to dry before watering again. Over-watering causes the aloe vera plant to suffer root rot so water once a month during the winter.

Step 5

Propagate aloe vera plants by cutting away the pups or offsets with a sharp knife and planting them in sandy soil. It takes aloe vera plants four to five years to mature. The stalks rarely produce seeds while grown as a houseplant.

Tips and Warnings

  • Aloe vera plants do not grow when exposed to temperatures less than 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Things You'll Need

  • Aloe vera plant
  • Terra cotta plant pot
  • Potting soil
  • Sand
  • Water
  • Sharp knife

References

  • Union County College---Plant of the Week: Aloe Vera
  • Earlham College---Biological Diversity 2003: Aloe Vera
  • University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service: Aloe barbadensis PDF
  • University of Vermont: Aloe Vera
Keywords: aloe vera plant, aloe vera care, Aloe barbadensis

About this Author

Karen Carter has spent the last three years working as a technology specialist in the public school system. This position included hardware/software installation, customer support, and writing training manuals. She also spent four years as a newspaper editor/reporter at the Willapa Harbor Herald.