If you’re looking for tips and tricks on how to grow Aloe vera, then this guide is for you.
We’ll walk you through all the steps you need to know, from cultivating soil conditions to pruning and feeding your Barbados Aloe.
in this article:
About Aloe vera
Many people are familiar with Aloe vera as a soothing, cooling gel in face washes and moisturizers. However, it can also function as an incredibly attractive indoor (or outdoor) houseplant.
A stripped-down version of the showier Aloe, the Barbados Aloe is a simple, straightforward, and no-nonsense version of its showier cousins. It has simple green leaves bordered with sharp spines. They form a tight rosette that doesn’t spread horizontally quite as much as it grows vertically.
Related Article: An in-depth guide on different types of Aloes
When stressed, the leaves change from regular green to a purplish-red color.
Stalks bearing typical Aloe flowers appear in the spring and summer, adding interest.
Aloe vera is also the recipient of the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.
|Botanical Name||Aloe vera|
|Common Name||Barbados Aloe, Bitter Aloe, Aloe barbadensis|
|Bloom season||Spring, Summer|
|Bloom color||Yellow, Green|
|Soil||Well-Drained, Loamy, Sandy|
|Tolerant||Deer, Drought, Salt|
Aloe vera Care
Aloe vera is a very easy houseplant to care for as long as it has good light and adequate water. Forgiving by nature, this Aloe doesn’t demand much from its caretaker.
The best light for Aloe vera is bright but not direct. It can tolerate some direct sun but will thrive in indirect light.
Sunburn is relatively rare but can happen under scorching sunlight. So be sure to protect your Aloe vera from the harsh afternoon sun.
Aloe vera likes well-drained, sandy soil. Adding some extra perlite or vermiculite to the mix is a good idea, as this will help improve drainage.
The store-bought cactus mix is also perfectly suitable as a potting medium.
Aloe vera likes to dry out between waterings. Water your plant thoroughly, then let it dry out for about a week before watering again. This will prevent root rot and promote healthy growth.
Avoid overwatering at all costs, as this can cause root rot and kill your plant.
Temperature and Humidity
Aloe vera prefers warm temperatures. It will tolerate temperatures as low as 35 degrees Fahrenheit, but this is only for short periods and should be avoided if possible.
The ideal temperature range for Aloe vera is 55 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Average room humidity is acceptable for Aloe vera, but it will also tolerate higher humidity levels.
The Barbados Aloe does not need a lot of fertilizer. A balanced liquid fertilizer is recommended for indoor plants and can be used every two months during the growing season. When using a granular fertilizer, apply it according to the package instructions. Avoid fertilizing more than once per month.
Aloe vera is not a very big plant and does not need to be pruned. However, you can control its growth by trimming back the tips of new leaves that emerge from the base of the plant. This will encourage more branching and compact growth.
Potting and Repotting Aloe vera
Barbados Aloe does not need a lot of room. Depending on your preference, it can be grown in a small pot or in the ground. The plant should be repotted every one to two years when it becomes root-bound. This will help prevent the soil from drying out and provide more space for the roots to grow.
The best time for repotting is in the spring.
How to Repot (Step-by-Step)
- Remove the Aloe from its pot by gently pulling it out. Use a trowel to loosen up the soil first if it is packed in.
- Wash off any dirt or debris from around your Aloe vera roots using a soft cloth or sponge dipped in water.
- Fill your new container with soil up to about an inch below the rim.
- Gently place your Aloe vera plant into the container, pressing down on its roots to settle them into their new home. If they are not covered with soil, add more around them until they are completely covered. Fill in any gaps around the sides of the pot with soil as well.
- Water until it comes out of the bottom of the container. Check for drainage holes and make sure they are not clogged if you do not see any water coming out.
Propagating Aloe vera by Offsets or Pups (Step-by-Step)
Propagation by offsets is the preferred method of cultivating new Aloe vera plants from existing ones. It is easy, requiring minimal gardening knowledge. Here’s what you do:
- Choose a healthy offset attached to the parent plant.
- Separate this offset by either twisting it off or by cutting it off near the base. Try to preserve the root system already developed by the offshoot.
- Allow the cutting of the offset to heal and callus over for a few days.
- Fill a small container with soil about an inch below the rim, then place your offset inside so that only about half its length shows above ground level.
- Water normally and wait for new growth.
Propagating Aloe vera by Seeds
Seeds are a great way to propagate Aloe vera. You can either take seeds from the parent plant or purchase them online.
- Keep your seeds warm and moist until they germinate.
- Place the seeds in a plastic bag or container, then wrap them in a damp cloth and store it in a warm place, like on top of your refrigerator, until they’re ready to be planted.
- Fill a tray or pot with well-draining soil and sow the seeds on the top layer.
- Cover them with a thin layer of the potting medium and water lightly.
- After 1 to 2 weeks, you should see the first signs of seedlings.
- Once these seedlings have grown enough, plant them into separate containers filled with soil and water normally.
Propagating Aloe vera by Cuttings
Very specific conditions need to be met for cuttings made of an Aloe vera plant to propagate correctly. Therefore, for beginners and amateur enthusiasts, it is recommended they stick to propagation by offsets or seeds.
Aloe vera plants usually bloom in the spring and summer months. The flowers are small and white with a greenish tinge and have a strong fragrance.
They are borne on 3-foot tall racemes that rise above the foliage.
Aloe vera is toxic. Eating can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and lethargy in pets. However, the gel is edible and used for many medical purposes.
NOTE: This page is not intended as a substitute for veterinary advice. The toxicity of an ingested substance varies depending on the amount ingested, the animal’s weight, and its sensitivity to specific allergens. Contact your veterinarian or local animal poison control center immediately if you think your pet may have ingested a toxic substance.
Aloe vera is primarily known worldwide for its many health benefits, and when you grow your own Barbados Aloe at home, you can take advantage of them.
- It has been used to treat burns, sunburns, psoriasis, other skin conditions, and intestinal issues like constipation.
- It has been used as a natural moisturizer and de-aging agent.
- You can even use the gel inside the leaves on cuts and wounds to help prevent infection or speed up healing.
Mealybugs are a common pest of Aloe vera plants. They live on the undersides of leaves and feed on them, causing browning, curling, and distortion. The best way to control mealybugs is by spraying the foliage with an organic pesticide such as neem oil or orange oil.
Scales are another common problem, especially during the hot summer months. They can be identified by their translucent white bodies and hard shells. If you see these on your Aloe vera plant, carefully spray them with a soapy water solution using a fine mist sprayer.
Aphids are small green insects that feed on the sap of plants. They can be easily identified by their long antennae and bodies covered in a sticky substance called honeydew. To control aphids, rub the affected areas with alcohol.
- Placing under harsh sunlight
- Using poorly drained potting mediums
- Fertilizing during dormancy