Aloe plants (scientific name Liliaceae) are succulents that have thick, spiky, green or grayish-green leaves. The leaves of some varieties have colored bands or stripes. Species range from tiny 6-inch plants to trees; they bloom red, yellow, cream or orange. The most commonly cultivated species is aloe vera. Aloes are hardy in Sunset's climate zones 8, 9, 12 through 27, H1 and H2.
Choose an outdoor location where the aloe plants will get quite a lot of sun. In the cooler climate zones, plant them in full sun. In hotter zones, put them where they will get some shade in the hottest part of the day.
Plant aloe in soil that drains well. If your soil is heavy or clay, spade it up and mix in compost until the mixture is light and crumbly.
Look carefully at the root systems of your plants and dig a hole for each one that is about an inch deeper than the longest root, and about an inch wider than the widest part of the root system.
Put the aloe plant into the hole and push dirt around it until the top of the root system is just below the level of the adjoining soil. Push more dirt over the top of the roots to cover them by about 1/2 to 1 inch. Don't pack the soil down on top of the roots.
Set the pots onto their saucers and water your plants well the first time, but don't drown them--remember, these are natives of the desert. After you've watered the plants, let them stand for 15 minutes or so and then throw out any water that has collected in the saucers, so the roots won't be standing in water.
Check the plants for water once a week by putting your fingers into the soil surrounding them. Don't water the plants again till the soil is completely dry to the touch.
Water established aloe plants once a month or so, checking the soil before you do so. Aloes can go for a month or longer without being watered, but they will look plumper and healthier if you water them once in a while.
Pull off any tiny plants you see around the roots, then set them aside for at least a few hours. Plant them in new pots, burying at least 1/3 of the plant in the soil. Follow the directions for lighting and watering your new aloe. A healthy aloe will produce an ongoing supply of new plants.
Move outdoor plants inside before it frosts, if you live in a colder climate than the aloe can tolerate over winter. Cold weather can kill aloe plants quickly.