How to Grow Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is commonly grown as a houseplant and gained favor because the gel from its leaves makes a soothing skin salve (although some people are actually irritated by the gel).
There are over 300 species of Aloe vera, but the one most commonly grown as a houseplant is Aloe barbadensis miller. It has thick, succulent leaves that are plumped up with a watery gel. The leaves grow from the base of the plant, in a rosette, and have jagged edges with flexible spines. It's a fast-growing succulent, taking three to four years to reach a mature size.
The spiky flowers appear on tall stalks, in shades of yellow, red, or orange. Young plants don’t generally flower, and aloe grown as a houseplant can take years to produce a flower stalk.
Aloe Vera Care
Since aloe vera needs a sandy or gravelly soil, when grown outdoors it is best used with other succulents with similar needs. To blend aloe into a border planting, pot it separately and use as a focal point. Raising the pot to eye level will make it more prominent. Potted aloe grows well on decks and patios where it is handy for emergency burns and bites.
Blooming occurs in late spring/early summer. Plants need to be quite mature to begin blooming and may not bloom every year if the leaves are being harvested.
Aloe Vera needs to be in a place that's bright with indirect sunlight: Direct sun can burn its tender skin.
Soil needs to be well-draining. In its natural habitat, Aloe generally grows on slopes so that good drainage is guaranteed. To ensure drainage in a pot, you can use a special cactus potting soil or mix in some perlite or coarse sand and make your own mix.
Aloe can handle drought well, but prefers to be watered regularly, allowing the soil to dry out completely between waterings. If the plant is left dry too long, the leaves will shrivel and pucker slightly. They will recover when watered, but prolonged stress, either too much drought or too much water, will cause the leaves to yellow and die.
Do not give the plants any supplemental water during the rainy season. Most aloes go dormant in the winter and won’t require any water at all, provided they received sufficient water during the growing season. If your climate is rainy during the winter, consider planting your aloe in gravel or stones. They will allow the water to run off.
Temperature and Humidity
Aloe Vera does best between 55 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, but will tolerate 40 degrees Fahrenheit. It cannot tolerate frost.
Aloe vera does not require a high soil fertility. Feeding once a year, in the spring, with a houseplant fertilizer should be sufficient.