How To Grow Aloe Vera in Your Home

Are you a gardener who is starting with succulents?

If so, same. I’ve made so many succulent mistakes. Let’s learn gardening together!

I’m new to growing succulents, and I’ve managed to kill almost all of mine, including my poor kalanchoe named shrimp dumpling. Yes, that shrimp dumpling. The only succulent so far that I haven’t killed (more than once) is the incredible aloe vera.

Growing aloe vera is the perfect thing to do if you’re starting out growing succulents. One, because they come in many different patterns and their spiky leaves are so pretty (Still, be careful with them!)! And two, they are easy to grow and are useful to have in the home!

Come on, let me tell you how to grow aloe vera in your home!

One small potted aloe in between 2 big potted aloe
Aloe comes is so many fun sizes and patterns!

About Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is one of the most widely used medicinal plants on the planet. People have been growing aloe vera plants for thousands of years. People usually use aloe vera gel to soothe scrapes, burns, and cold sores when applied topically.

A big reminder: Aloe vera must only be used topically. All parts of the aloe vera plant are not meant to be eaten by people or pets. One, the gel tastes bitter and disgusting. Two, consuming even a spoonful of aloe gel can cause diarrhea, nausea, and other stomach problems. Regularly ingesting aloe vera gel can cause fatal kidney damage and has the potential to cause cancer.

So if you have any pets in the house, either grow your aloe in a place where they can’t access it or try growing a pet-friendly houseplant.

Growing Aloe

Well first of all, where do you even get aloe vera? You can find aloe vera at most home supply stores, or you can ask neighbors for some if they’re giving away extras. In the case of Peanut, my baby aloe, I got her for free while trick or treating!

Requirements for Growing Aloe

It’s good to remember that aloe is a succulent. So it enjoys drier conditions and bright sun. Aloe is one of those plants that can do well with neglect, like mint. It thrives off of being left alone. However, like every plant, it has its preferences and tolerances. 

Small skinny aloe in a potTilted aloe plant in pot in front of window
On the left is my aloe gets light from a northern window. On the right is my aloe that gets light from a southerly window.

Sun

Aloe vera needs bright indirect light to thrive. Growing your aloe in front of a south or west-facing window should keep it happy. Aloe plants grown in low light, like the aloe on the left, become leggy (Although they are still cute!).

If you want to start growing your aloe outside during the summer, make sure to introduce it slowly to full sun! Too much direct light can cause your aloe to stress and become sun-burnt. At first, only place your aloe in partial shade for a few hours a day. After a week of doing that, start to set your aloe in full sun for a few hours a day for a few days.

I made the mistake of not slowly introducing my aloe to full sun, and it became sun stressed and took months to recover. You can recognize a sun-stressed aloe from the leaves’ reddish-brown color. It becomes classified as “sun-burnt” when the leaves are drying up.

If you have a sun-stressed aloe, no worries! Just cut off the damaged parts and grow the aloe inside, or move it to a shadier area. The leaves will bounce back if there are still green parts. Some people purposely sun-stress their succulents to make them that red-ish brown color. It looks pretty when done right.

Soil

Aloe vera is prone to root rot, so it needs well-draining soil. At the absolute bare minimum, regular potting soil will do. But a potting soil amended with either sand or perlite, or soil made for succulents that contain perlite.

However, drainage material like a layer of gravel or clay balls is not necessary for aloe. Well-draining potting soil will provide enough drainage.

And for the love of ramen noodles, please do not use gardening soil for aloe vera. Scratch that. Don’t use gardening soil for any potted plant. Gardening soil is not made for potted plants and doesn’t provide the aeration or nutrients that container plants need. The health and happiness of your plants are worth the extra dollars for potting soil.

A spindly aloe in a terra cotta pot
Man I seriously need a grow light!

Container & Space

It’s essential to consider the type of container you want to grow your aloe vera in. Pots made of materials that soak up water, like terra cotta, are best for helping water drain thoroughly. Terra cotta pots are also hard to knock or tip over, and are environmentally friendly, so that’s another bonus!

Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t use plastic or glazed containers! It just means that it will retain more moisture. You also would need to water your plants a bit less often.

Regardless of your pot’s material, make sure it has at least one drainage hole at the bottom. Lack of proper drainage causes a mushy dead aloe. If you’re worried about water all over your windowsill, a simple coaster under your pot will keep it dry!

As for space, choose a container that is as wide as its depth. If your aloe has a stem, make sure the pot is deep enough to bury the entire stem. Only repot your alow when it is root-bound.

Watering Your Aloe

One of the most common causes of aloe death is an overwatered plant. The best way to water an aloe plant is to thoroughly soak the soil and let it dry completely, rather than watering it a little bit every day. If the soil stays very wet over a long time, your aloe’s roots can rot. You can tell that a succulent has been overwatered by an unusually unstable or “tipsy” aloe and mushy leaves.

When watering your aloe, water it from the roots until you see a little bit of water coming out of the drainage hole. Then wait until the top 2 inches of the soil (around the depth of your pointer finger) is completely dry. Essentially, plan to water your aloe every 2-4 weeks during the summer and every 4-6 weeks during the winter.

Fertilizing

Aloe doesn’t need much fertilizer to thrive. You can even omit it if you want to. But if you desire to use fertilizer, use a water-soluble houseplant formula at 1/2 strength.

close up of cut aloe vera on a cutting board

Harvesting & Storing Aloe Vera

Now, this is the interesting (and a bit messy) part of aloe vera! Seriously, this plant is a godsend whenever I get a scape from rollerskating.

However, please keep in mind that aloe vera is not a replacement for medical help or medicine. Please seek medical attention if you need it.

Alright now that we got that out of the way… The process for harvesting or storing aloe vera is simple! You’ll need a cutting board (trust me, this will get messy), a knife, a bowl, and some cling film or tin foil.

Harvesting Aloe Vera

When harvesting a whole aloe leaf:

  1. Hold on to the aloe leaf near the base. Be careful, aloe leaves are spiky!
  2. Peel off the aloe leaf by pulling down and away from the stem
  3. Cut off the white part of the leaf

If you only need a little bit of aloe, cut off a part of the leaf. The cut on the remaining plant will heal itself in a few hours, so don’t worry!

Place your harvested plant in your container with the cut part facing downwards and wait for 5 minutes. This is to drain out the yellow latex, which can be irritating for the skin.

To use the gel:

  1. After the latex has drained, rinse off the remaining latex on the cut aloe
  2. Cut the aloe lengthwise
  3. Scoop out the gel using a spoon (or your fingers), collect it in a bowl, and apply as needed. Or just lay the opened leaf gel-side down directly on the wound
Aloe vera in bowl next to glass jar

Storing Aloe Vera

Aloe vera gel spoils within 24 hours at room temperature, so you must store your aloe in the fridge or freezer. You’ll know your gel has rotted if it starts turning a brownish color, has a funky odor, or has mold.

If you want to store a whole leaf, wrap the cut in either tin foil or cling film and place it in the fridge. You can also cut up the aloe into sections, place them in a bag and store it in the refrigerator. Aloe lasts for a week in the fridge.

To keep your aloe fresh for the longest time, store it in the freezer. Aloe can last for months inside of a freezer. To thaw, don’t use heat! Instead, allow it to defrost at room temperature.

lots of aloe plants on a table with a sign saying "Say Aloe to my little friends!"

Cool! So What Now Sarika?

That’s my name! Nice to meet you! If you read my story, you can see it in the about section after you’ve finished reading! But in short, I’m here to help you enrich your life with gardening!

So, what are you waiting for? If you want to start growing aloe, buy some! If you fancy aloe as a cute succulent, I recommend the short-leaved aloe or Hedgehog aloe. If you want a bigger aloe both to admire and use medically, I recommend Aloe viridiflora.

If you enjoyed this article, please share it with friends and family so they can enjoy it too! Also, sign up for my email newsletter to be the first to read an article, receive updates, and get a monthly “Plant of the Month” newsletter straight to your inbox! It helps me continue writing for this blog, and I appreciate it a lot!

If you want to follow me along my gardening journey, receive tips, and learn from my gardening mistakes, follow my Instagram!

Alright! Happy Gardening! Till we meet again!

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My name is Sarika, and I am the founder of “The Blossoming Gardener”! Let me tell you a little bit about myself…Read more

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