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Almanac Planting Aloe vera live houseplant 4" pot
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Aloe

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Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis 'Miller')

Overview

Uses: Houseplant, patio plant, or outdoor plant (in approved tropical zones)

Benefits: It's an air purifying plant that removes VOCs from the air. It also is known for its gel that is used medicinally. Very easy to take care of.

Zones: 10a-11b suggested (some have had success as an outdoor perennial in zones as low as 8)

Sun: Full Sun (suggested minimum of 4 hours of full sun daily)

Life Cycle: Perennial

Mature Height: 2.5'

Mature Width: 5'

Bloom Season: Summer

Summary 

Aloe vera, a member of the Liliaceae family of plants, is probably one of the most well known products on our website. It's a succulent that's easily recognized by its light green, triangular, cactus-like leaves with white streaks on their undersides, and prominent serrations on their edges.

It's popularity is primarily due to the medical qualities of its gel, which is most often used as a treatment for skin conditions.

An air purifying plant that NASA says is one of the best air purifying plants you can buy, it's known to remove dangerous chemicals such as VOC's from the air. Aloe is also a very easy plant to take care of. It doesn't need frequent watering, and does great when kept in temperatures between 60°F and 85°F, and in strong, direct sun.

Its leaves can grow to lengths of up to 3', although a more common size is 2' long at full maturity. 

Care

Aloe Vera Plant Care

How to Water an Aloe Plant

We suggest watering an Aloe vera plant once a week between the spring and fall—allowing the soil to dry out between watering. 

The plant will not drink as much during periods of slow growth such as winter, during which it's suggested to shift the frequency of watering to every 10-14 days.

Aloe is drought tolerant and highly susceptible to root rot, so it is better to underwater an Aloe plant than to overwater one.

Signs of overwatering include a dark color and wilted appearance. 

How Much Humidity Does Aloe Like?

Aloe barbadensis 'Miller' is known to thrive in areas of areas of lower humidity (around 30% RH), but also does well in more humid areas such as bathrooms.

It does not really require misting, and although some people mist their Aloe plants, we suggest that you don't mist yours due to the possibility of it causing disease and rot. 

How Much Sun Does Aloe Like?

Avoid placing this plant in areas that don't receive extended periods of strong, direct sunlight.

Aloe vera does ok with some shade, but should get a minimum of 4-6 hours of bright, direct sun every day. Too little light will result in discoloration, poor growth, and possible death.

What Temperature is Best for Growing Aloe?

Aloe vera needs warmer temperatures and will likely die in extended periods of 50°F weather.

It's best to keep this plant in temperatures above 60°F to ensure its beauty and the integrity of its growth; however the optimal temperature range of this houseplant is between 65°F and 85°F.

As such, Aloe survives outdoors year round in USDA zones 10-11, and will likely not survive living outdoors over winter in USDA zone 9 or cooler.

What Soil is Best for Aloe?

Aloe vera prefers well draining, sandy, rough soil mixes. It grows great in our potting soil.

What Fertilizer Should I Use for Aloe?

Aloe vera plants typically don't require much fertilization. We suggest fertilizing in the spring, or as required if the plant appears under-fed. Fertilizations can be given through a balanced liquid fertilizer, a fish emulsion, or our slow-release fertilizer.

How to Trim and Maintain an Aloe Plant

It's suggested that you trim your Aloe plant if there are unsightly, damaged, or dying leaves; or if you would like to harvest the plant for its gel. Trimming is best done in the spring, and is accomplished with the use of a clean and sharp knife. It's best to harvest from the bottom up, as the lower leaves will typically be larger and thicker than the upper leaves. Trim the leaf as close to the stalk as possible. It is not advised to cut/harvest just the tips of the leaves, as the leaves will not properly heal and will retain the damaged/brown look. 

It may be necessary to trim your Aloe plant because it is getting undesirably large for its environment. In situations where trimming to maintain a smaller plant size, it is still suggested to harvest from the lower/outside leaves and work your way in, leaving some of the newer, smaller leaves intact.

Like most other plants, it's advised that any dead or dying leaves and stems be removed from the plant to keep it as healthy and clean as possible. 

How to Repot Aloe

Aloe vera plants seem to do better in an overcrowded pot than many other plants, but it's still a good idea to not allow the plant to become rootbound. Like most other plants, it's advised to only slightly increase the pot size when repotting. 

In situations of root bounding without the desire for a larger pot and/or plant, it's advised to remove your Aloe plant from its pot and to trim away the side/lower roots and to replace their space with new potting soil. 

How to Propagate Aloe

Aloe plants will typically have "pups"smaller individual Aloe plants that grew as offshoots of their mother plant—in with them. This is especially likely if the mother plant appears to be crowded in its pot. It is advised to separate the pups from the mother and to either discard them, or plant them in a new pot of their own.  

The propagation of Aloe vera is best accomplished through the aforementioned use of "pups", which are rooted offshoots of a mother plant. Separate the pups from the mother by cutting their roots (which will likely be connected to the mother's root system) with a clean knife and then repotting the pup into a pot of its own.

Although it is possible to propagate Aloe plants through the use of cuttings, this method is unreliable and is considered quite inferior to simply using "pups". 

Size

How Big Do Aloe vera Plants Grow?

Fully mature Aloe plants are known to have leaves as long as 3', which would result in a plant as wide as 6'. A more typical size is usually around 2' of average length per leaf (4' of total width) in a fully grown plant.

What Size Aloe Plants Do You Ship?

Our Aloe vera ships in a 4" grow pot. The longest leaf will typically be no shorter than 8". 

Additional Information

Common Names of Aloe vera 

  • Aloe

  • Aloe Plant

  • First Aid Plant

Toxicity and Risks of Aloe

Despite the many medicinal benefits associated with the topical application of Aloe, it should never be ingested. Aloe is considered to be toxic when ingested due to the fact that it contains a chemical called saponin. Saponin ingestion can cause severe diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, and (in severe cases) death.    

Additionally, orally ingested non-decolorized aloe vera leaf extract was listed by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, as a chemical "known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity".