Aloe plant

How to Grow and Care for Your Aloe Vera Plants Indoors and Outdoors

This may surprise you, but you can indeed grow an aloe vera plant from cuttings. However, it’s not a reliable plant propagation method, so there’s a low chance of the plants being viable. Before removing the aloe pups (otherwise known as the baby plants part of the root system), make sure it’s at least one-fifth the size of the aloe plant. When it’s time, remove the dirt from the pup’s base. Use a clean, sharp knife to cut the aloe pup from the aloe plant. Plant your pup in a new pot filled with potting mix and allow it to sit for one week before you start watering. In terms of care, you can treat your pup as you would your aloe.

Aloe Vera

green aloe vera plant in a white pot with a wooden wall background

Aloe Vera Plant Care: How to Take Care of Aloe Vera Plants

Sign up for daily gardening advice and tips

Learn all about aloe vera plant care—from how to care for aloe vera to how to grow this succulent outdoors and indoors in your home. Aloe vera is so rewarding! The juice from their leaves has medicinal purposes, and can be used to relieve pain from scrapes and burns. See our Aloe Vera Plant Guide.

About Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is a succulent plant species of the genus Aloe. The plant is stemless or short-stemmed with thick, greenish, fleshy leaves that fan out from the plant’s central stem. The margin of the leaf is serrated with small teeth.

Before you buy an aloe, note that you’ll need a location that offers bright, indirect sunlight (or artificial sunlight). Direct sunlight can dry out the plant too much and turn its fleshy leaves yellow, so you may need to water more often if your aloe lives in an exceedingly sunny spot.

Keep the aloe vera plant in a pot near a kitchen window for periodic use.

WARNING : The gel from aloe vera leaves can be used topically but should NOT be eaten by people or pets. It can cause unpleasant symptoms such as nausea or indigestion and may even be toxic in larger quantities.

Read Next

Before Planting Aloe Vera

how to care for aloe vera infographic

  • It’s important to choose the right type of container. A pot made from terra-cotta or similar porous material is recommended, as it will allow the soil to dry thoroughly between waterings and will also be heavy enough to keep the plant from tipping over. A plastic or glazed pot may also be used, though these will hold more moisture.
  • When choosing a container, pick one with at least one drainage hole in the bottom. This is key, as the hole will allow excess water to drain out. Aloe vera plants are hardy, but a lack of proper drainage can cause rot and wilting, which is easily the most common cause of death for this plant.
  • Select a container that’s about as wide as it is deep. If your aloe plant has a stem, choose a container deep enough to plant the entire stem under the soil.
  • Aloe vera plants are succulents, so use a well-draining potting mix, such as those made for cacti and succulents. Do not use gardening soil. A good mix should contain perlite, lava rock, chunks of bark, or all three.
  • A layer of gravel, clay balls, or any other “drainage” material in the bottom of the pot is not necessary. This only takes up space that the roots could otherwise be using. A drainage hole is drainage enough!
  • (Optional) To encourage your aloe to put out new roots after planting, dust the stem of the plant with a rooting hormone powder. Rooting hormone can be found at a local garden center or hardware store or bought online.

How to Plant (or Repot) an Aloe Vera Plant

If your aloe plant has grown leggy, has gotten too large, or simply needs an upgrade, it’s time to repot it. Here’s how:

  1. Prepare your pot. After giving the new pot a quick rinse (or a good scrub if it’s a pot you’ve used before) and letting it dry thoroughly, place a small piece of screen over the drainage hole; this will keep the soil from falling out the bottom and will allow water to drain properly. A doubled-up piece of paper towel or newspaper can also work in a pinch, though these will break down over time.
  2. Prepare your plant. Remove the aloe vera plant from its current pot and brush away any excess dirt from the roots, being careful not to damage the roots.
    • If your plant has any pups, remove them now. (See this page’s “Care” section for instructions on removing and potting pups.)
    • If your plant has a very long, spindly stem that won’t fit in the pot, it is possible to trim the stem off partially. Note that this is risky and could kill the plant. To trim the stem: Cut off part of the stem, leaving as much as possible on the plant. Next, place the bare plant in a warm area that gets indirect light. After several days, a callous will form over the wound. At this point, continue with the repotting instructions below.
  3. Plant your plant. Fill the pot about a third of the way with a well-draining potting mix, then place your plant in the soil. Continue filling in the soil around the plant, bearing in mind that you should leave at least 3/4 of an inch of space between the top of the soil and the rim of the pot. The bottom leaves of the aloe plant should rest just above the soil, too. Do not water after planting.
  4. Ignore your plant (temporarily). After you’ve placed your aloe in its new pot, don’t water it for at least a week. This will decrease the chance of inducing rot and give the plant time to put out new roots. Until the plant seems to be rooted and happy, please keep it in a warm place that receives bright but indirect light.

Aloe vera plants in pots

How to Care for an Aloe Vera Plant

  • Lighting: Place in bright, indirect sunlight or artificial light. A western or southern window is ideal. Aloe that are kept in low light often grow leggy.
  • Temperature: Aloe vera does best in temperatures between 55 and 80°F (13 and 27°C). The temperatures of most homes and apartments are ideal. From May to September, you can bring your plant outdoors without any problems, but do bring it back inside in the evening if nights are cold.
  • Fertilizing: Fertilize sparingly (no more than once a month), and only in the spring and summer, with a balanced houseplant formula mixed at 1/2 strength.
  • Repotting: Repot when root bound, following the instructions given in “Planting” above.

Watering Aloe Vera

Watering is the most challenging part of keeping aloe vera healthy, but it’s certainly not rocket science! The aloe is a succulent plant accustomed to arid environments, but its thick leaves still need sufficient water.

Aloe vera plants and pups. Image by cgdeaw/Shutterstock.

  • Water aloe vera plants deeply but infrequently. In other words, the soil should feel moist after watering but should be allowed to dry out to some extent before you water again. If the soil stays overly wet, the plant’s roots can rot.
  • To ensure that you’re not overwatering your plant, allow the top third of potting soil to dry out between waterings. For example, if your plant is kept in 6 inches of potting soil, allow the top 2 inches to dry out before watering again. (Use your finger to test the dryness of the soil.)
  • Generally speaking, plan to water your aloe plant about every 2-3 weeks in the spring and summer and even more sparingly during the fall and winter. One rule of thumb for fall and winter watering is to roughly double the time between waterings (compared to your summer watering schedule). In other words, if you water every two weeks in summer, water every four weeks in winter.
  • When watering, some excess water may run out of the bottom of the pot. Let the pot sit in this water so the soil absorbs as much as possible. Wait 10-15 minutes, then dump any remaining water.

Removing and Replanting Aloe Vera Offsets (Pups)

Mature aloe vera plants often produce offsets— plantlets, pups, or “babies”—that can be removed to produce an entirely new plant (a clone of the mother plant, technically).

  1. Find where the offsets are attached to the mother plant and separate them using pruning shears, scissors, or a sharp knife. Leave at least an inch of stem on the offset.
  2. Allow the offsets to sit out of the soil for several days; this lets the offset form a callous over the cut, which helps to protect it from rot. Keep the offsets in a warm location with indirect light during this time.
  3. Once the offsets have formed callouses, pot them in a standard succulent potting mix. The soil should be well-draining.
  4. Put the newly potted pups in a sunny location. Wait at least a week to water and keep the soil on the dry side.

Aloe vera flowers on a cliff overlooking the ocean

How to Get Your Aloe Vera to Flower

Mature aloe vera plants occasionally produce a tall flower spike—called an inflorescence—from which dozens of tubular yellow or red blossoms appear. This certainly adds another level of interest to the already lovely aloe!

Unfortunately, a bloom is rarely achievable with aloes that are kept as houseplants, since the plant requires nearly ideal conditions to produce flowers: lots of light, sufficient water, and the right temperature range. Due to these requirements (mainly lighting), aloe flowers are usually only seen on plants grown outdoors year-round in warm climates.

To give your aloe the best shot at flowering:

  • Provide it with as much light as possible, especially during spring and summer. Aloes can be kept outdoors in full sun during the summer when temperatures are above 70°F (21°C). Bring the aloe inside if nighttime temps threaten to drop below 60°F (16°C).
    • Note: Don’t move your aloe from indoors to full sun right away; it needs time to adjust to the intense light, or it may cause sunburn. Allow it to sit in partial shade for about a week before moving it to a brighter location.

    How to Grow and Care for Your Aloe Vera Plants Indoors and Outdoors

    The best way to enjoy the benefits of these succulents at home, whether you have a green thumb or not.

    how to grow aloe vera, aloe plants outside in a field

    Known for its lance-shaped leaves with jagged edges, aloe vera is a popular houseplant for many reasons: It’s one of the best air-purifying plants (great for the bedroom, bathroom or kitchen) and has an array of dermatologist-approved benefits like helping to reduce acne and wrinkles, healing wounds or easing irritation from sunburns.

    Plus, even if you’re far from a green thumb, caring for aloe vera is fairly low maintenance — and this guide on how to grow aloe vera will make it even simpler. To keep your aloe plant happy, stick with dry conditions (it can even tolerate infrequent watering) and bright, indirect light (try a sunny windowsill, for example). Keep in mind that overwatering and lack of light are common issues that disrupt this plant’s growth. Also, keep the plant away from children and pets — it’s toxic when consumed.

    Along with helpful care tips, below, we share how to repot and harvest your aloe as well as how to grow aloe vera from leaf cuttings. This means you can enjoy a whole new plant or gift some to friends by simply cutting off and planting aloe vera pups! As you read the following how-to-grow aloe vera guide, we hope you enjoy the plant care process. Because in three to four years, your fast-growing succulent will grow up to three feet in height all because you chose to become a plant parent.

    Types of Aloe Plants

    how to grow aloe vera, plant outdoors

    Teerit Tanvanich / EyeEm // Getty Images

    There are more than 500 species of aloe, separated into three categories: tree aloes, shrub aloes and stemless aloes. Luckily, in terms of care, what works for one succulent will work for the others. To help you pick the right aloe plant for your home or garden, here are some details:

    • Aloe Vera: This popular stemless plant has thick, greenish leaves that fan out from the central stem. While the leaves can grow 30 to 40 centimeters long, the flower stalk can reach 90 centimeters high.
    • Aloe arborescens: This succulent’s candelabra-shaped branches earned it the name: krantz aloe or the candelabra aloe. Due to its bright red and orange foliage, it’s one of the most beautiful Aloe species that can grow 6 to 10 feet tall and wide.
    • Aloe aristata: Known for the white teeth attached to the edge of their leaves, these stemless succulents are poisonous and lack health benefits. They can grow 8 to 12 inches tall, making them ideal plants for containers.
    • Aloe polyphylla: Once you see this plant, you’ll know exactly why it’s called the spiral aloe. Their short leaves are arranged in rows that spiral in the same direction. During the spring and summer months, they produce red to salmon-pink blooms.
    • Aloe ferox: Originally from South Africa, this cape or bitter aloe has matte-green (at times reddish) leaves and a stalk that grows up to 130 centimeters high.
    • Aloe variegata (Gonialoe variegata): Another well-known pick among the Aloe genus, this tiger aloe has eye-catching white and green striped leaves. When young, they produce red flowers on the stems and grow 10 to 15 centimeters high.
    • Aloe mitriformis: A dwarf version of aloe vera, this succulent has long and creeping stems. It’ll grow 1 to 2 feet high when exposed to the sun and produces salmon-red flowers in the summer.

    How to Grow Aloe Vera Indoors

    how to grow aloe vera indoors, aloe vera plant in a white pot near a window

    Getty Images // Getty Images

    Aloe has won over many home gardeners with its hardiness and tolerance of infrequent watering. The best way to grow aloe vera and keep it happy: Plant aloe in a terracotta pot with well-drained dirt. Your best bet is to mix equal parts sand and potting soil or buy a special succulent mix. The terracotta also dries faster than other plastic or glazed containers.

    Repot your aloe if the weight of the plant causes tipping, but otherwise, don’t worry about giving it lots of space. This plant thrives in snug conditions.

    Place your aloe in a bright, sunny place. Otherwise, it will go dormant and stop growing. Water the plant heavily about once every two weeks, waiting until the soil dries out fully. Since this is a desert species, keeping the dirt moist will cause the roots to rot. Limp or brown leaves also signal you’ve overdone the water.

    If you like, you can move your potted plant outdoors for the summer, but don’t put it in direct sunlight right away. Gradually place it in a brighter spot every few days to prevent overexposure.

    How to Grow Aloe Vera Outdoors

    how to grow aloe vera outdoors, green aloe veras planted outdoors in soil

    Getty Images // Getty Images

    If you live in a warm climate year-round (Zone 10 or higher on the USDA Plant Hardiness Map), you can nurture your aloe outside. Freezing temperatures will kill the leaves, but you really have to worry about frozen soil, as that will kill the roots and no new sprouts will grow.

    When picking a spot, look for a well-drained bed. You won’t need to water your aloe with the exception of droughts. If it hasn’t rained in months, give it a good soaking and then let the soil dry out again.

    How to Grow Aloe Vera from Leaf Cuttings

    how to grow aloe vera growing of aloe on windowsill

    Albina Yalunina // Getty Images

    This may surprise you, but you can indeed grow an aloe vera plant from cuttings. However, it’s not a reliable plant propagation method, so there’s a low chance of the plants being viable. Before removing the aloe pups (otherwise known as the baby plants part of the root system), make sure it’s at least one-fifth the size of the aloe plant. When it’s time, remove the dirt from the pup’s base. Use a clean, sharp knife to cut the aloe pup from the aloe plant. Plant your pup in a new pot filled with potting mix and allow it to sit for one week before you start watering. In terms of care, you can treat your pup as you would your aloe.

    How to Care for Aloe Vera

    how to grow aloe vera, a close up of green aloe vera leaves and its spikes

    Getty Images // Getty Images

    As a bonus, your aloe will produce a tall stalk of small, bell-shaped flowers from time to time. Once the blooms fade, you can snip the stem off at the base.

    Since overwatering is a common issue with aloe plant care, ensure the soil is completely dry before watering again. While fertilization isn’t needed, you can fertilize plants once a year in the spring. When picking your fertilizer, choose one that contains phosphorus, a nutrient found in fertilizer to help plants grow.

    How to Repot Aloe Vera

    how to grow aloe vera, aloe vera plant in flower pot on two books

    Olena Ruban // Getty Images

    It’s important to repot aloe vera plants when they’ve outgrown their pots. Upsizing the plant can prevent stunted leaf growth and wilting leaves. According to Home for the Harvest, it’s recommended to repot your aloe plants in the spring while they’re actively growing. Follow our steps below (and watch our step-by-step video for visuals):

    1. Choose a pot that’s heavy enough to support your succulent and drains well.
    2. Water your plant 24 hours before starting. If your aloe looks overwatered (withering leaves), you can skip this step.
    3. Gently remove your aloe plant from its pot. If the roots get caught, slowly cut them.
    4. Place your plant in its new pot with a good-quality potting mix. Don’t add too much soil, as the roots need breathing space.
    5. Water immediately after repotting.