Aloe vera is a flowering succulent plant that is native to the Mediterranean. The plant's gel and juice are used for medicinal purposes, and the plant is commonly known as the "burn plant," because of the plant's healing effects on minor burns. In the United States, the plant is commonly found in the Southwest where the climate is ideal. The plant also grows well as a houseplant if the correct growing conditions are present.
Aloe vera is a succulent plant, and like all succulents, the plant requires soil that drains quickly. Cactus potting mix is ideal for aloe vera; if you don't have cactus potting mix, you can make your own by mixing potting soil with sand at a ratio of 1:1.
Because aloe vera cannot tolerate overly moist conditions, it is essential that the container you use has a hole in the bottom that allows excess water to drain out. Avoid using glazed pots that retain moisture. A terra cotta pot that absorbs excess moisture is ideal.
Outdoors, aloe vera grows in arid, desert-like conditions. Aloe does not like humidity; its leaves become vulnerable to rot and fungal diseases if there is too much humidity in the air. For this reason, keep aloe vera houseplants out of the bathroom. Showers create a steamy, humid atmosphere that aloe cannot tolerate.
Aloe vera plants need a great deal of sunlight in order to stay healthy. Indoors, place aloe vera in brightly lit windows that face south or west. If the plant grows too large for the window, cut off the outer leaves of the aloe. These cuttings can be dried for three days and planted in their own containers, where they will grow into individual aloe vera plants.
The leaves of the aloe vera are thick because they store water in them. For this reason, aloe vera plants need very little supplemental water. During the growing seasons of spring and summer, water aloe vera once a month, and allow the excess water to drain out. During the fall and winter, aloe goes into dormancy and does not need any water. If aloe is watered during dormancy, the roots and leaves will rot.