Aloe Vera Plant Care and Uses
If there is one plant you should grow no matter where you are or how much space you have or don’t have, it’s Aloe Vera. They say a dog is man’s best friend, I say it’s actually Aloe Vera. With all due respect for dogs (and I have a lot…), this plant requires almost no care, it doesn’t poop or drool, and it’s going to save you on a regular basis.
What is Aloe Vera?
Aloe Vera is a succulent plant, meaning it stores water in it’s leaves (aloe vera is 94% water). It grows up to about 36 inches tall and spreads outward by offsets or “pups” (picture bellow) to form a wide cluster of chubby leaves.
Aloe vera is native to Northern Africa. The green (or grey-green) leaves are thick and fleshy with tiny white teeth on their margins. The “teeth” can scratch, but are not as bad as thorns.
There are almost 300 identified species of aloe vera. Medical aloe vera can be recognized by the faint white spots on the thick leaves.
In the desert, aloe vera will produce a flower stem in the spring. It grows from the center of the plant and is 2 to 3 feet tall and topped with tubular pink or yellow flowers.
Where Can I Get an Aloe Vera Plant?
I got my aloe vera plant six years ago from my mother in law after she removed some offsets from her mother plant.
If you have a friend or a family member that happen to have it growing somewhere, you can propagate it by removing an offset. I’ll explain how to do this later in this post.
Your local plant nursery should have aloe vera plants. You might even be able to find it in the farmer’s market.
And, of course, like everything else, you can find it on Amazon.
How to Plant Aloe Vera
The only thing aloe vera doesn’t like is freezing temperatures (32F and below), so…
Outdoor – if you garden in zones 9-11 you can plant aloe vera outdoor. If you are planting more than one plant, make sure to space them 3 feet apart since your plants are going to spread outward.
Aloe vera is not picky at all when it comes to soil. As long as you have decent garden soil it will have no problem growing. If your soil is heavy clay, you can mix it up with cactus and succulent soil mix like this one.
Outdoor/Indoor – in gardening zones 1-8 you’ll have to plant your aloe vera in a container that you can move indoor before the first frost.
Again, you can use cactus and succulent potting mix or you can use a regular potting mix or even some soil from your garden.
You don’t need a very deep container since aloe vera is pretty shallow rooted. however, if you want to allow your plant to spread, make sure to choose a wide container. Also, make sure you choose a container that allows for good drainage.
Note – you might think that aloe vera can handle full sun, and it might be if it’s not too hot. But in areas that experience high heat during summer days, it’s better to plant aloe vera or place the pot in a partially shaded outdoor location. Here, in NC (zone 7b) if I leave my aloe vera in full sun in July or August (temperatures are around 100F), it becomes brown and starts to wilt (no matter how much I water it).
Indoor – Aloe vera is a great houseplant. If you can provide it with 6 to 8 hours of bright light a day (not direct sunlight), it will be very happy staying indoors. A sun room is a great location for an aloe vera plant, or maybe a south facing window. If there is no such location in your home, but you would like to keep your aloe vera indoor, you can supplement with grow lights.
Head over to Lady Lee's Home to learn how to care for aloe vera, how to harvest aloe vera, and how to use aloe vera!