Aloe vera, also known as Barbados aloe or burn plant, is a succulent perennial valued for its attractive leaves, ease of growth and medicinal properties. The plant blooms during late spring and early summer, producing a large flower stalk that rises from the center of the foliage. Flowers appear in shades of red, yellow, orange or pink, depending on the cultivar. The sap from aloe's green leaves soothes burns, making it a popular medicinal herb in kitchen windows across the country. Native to Africa, aloe vera plants require a warm environment, and American gardeners typically grow them indoors.
Things You'll Need
- Potting soil
- Coarse sand
Keep aloe vera plants in a location that receives bright sunlight such as a south- or west-facing window. Use a growing medium made of two parts potting soil and one part coarse sand to provide adequate drainage.
Maintain a consistent temperature of 60 to 80 degrees F during the day and about 55 degrees at night for optimal growth. Never allow the temperature to drop below 40, or the plant will suffer cold damage.
Water aloe vera plants about once per week, or whenever the surface of the soil is completely dry, during the first two months of growth to help establish the plant. Reduce the watering frequency thereafter to one thorough soaking once every two to three weeks.
Feed once per year during early spring using a 10-40-10 bloom-boosting fertilizer. Water the soil lightly before and after applying to release the nutrients and prevent root burn. Apply following the manufacturer's directions for the best results.
Re-pot aloe vera plant once every three to four years, or whenever the plant has outgrown its container. Increase the size of the new pot by 3 to 4 inches and use a fresh growing medium to ease the shock of the transplant.
Tips & Warnings
- Grow aloe vera outdoors in zones 9 through 11 only. Plant in a location with full sunlight and well-drained soil. Water once every 10 days during the first month, and only during periods of drought thereafter. Feed once per year during early spring using a 10-40-10 fertilizer.
- Container-grown aloe vera plants benefit from spending warm spring and summer months outdoors. Bring the plant back indoors before the first frost.
- Remove the flower stalk immediately after blooming ends to help the plant conserve nutrients.
- Penn State Cooperative Extension: The Amazing Aloe
- University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Backyard Gardener: Growing Aloe Vera
- "Arizona Gardener's Guide"; Mary Irish; 2001
- Photo Credit aloe image by Magdalena Mirowicz from Fotolia.com