Aloe Vera

The aloe vera plant has long, thick leaves that grow out in a mostly vertical spray pattern. It’s one of the most popular easy-care houseplants, especially for windowsills where it can receive plenty of light. More than just easy to care for, aloe vera houseplants are easy to place and easy to propagate. The plant leaves offer plenty of space to water the soil and visualize any problems early on. It’s also slow growing, which means it won’t obscure a wall hanging or overwhelm a desk or table, even after a few seasons of growth.

Plant Overview

aloe vera/aloe barbadensis miller

Indoor Size and Growth Habits: About one to two feet tall. Leaves of a mature plant can be nearly a foot long. Slow to moderate growth rate.

Light Requirements: 4-5 *

Water Frequency & Soil Moisture: 1-2 *

Potting Mix, Fertilizer & pH: Use a fast-draining and neutral to slightly alkaline soil. Does not need fertilizer.

Humidity & Temperature: Tolerates low humidity well. Likes room temperatures between 60-85 degrees.

Toxicity Level: Mild to moderate

Cost: $-$$

Placement: Light, Size, and Décor

Perfect as a small- to medium-sized houseplant, the aloe vera will generally grow to be about 12-24” tall as an indoor plant over a period of 3-5 years. When sources talk about aloe vera plants that are over three feet tall, they are talking about outdoor plants. Smaller varieties make for great window and desk plants, while larger varieties or better for tables and shelves. You can buy plants that are already mature to better ensure the size is right for your spot.

Place in a west- or south-facing window for best results. Lots of indirect light is fine too, but in low light conditions, the leaves may bend or even fold over and eventually die-off altogether. With healthy growth, the plant’s foliage has a predictable vertical growth pattern. It’s no wonder that the aloe vera houseplant is a favorite among home stagers and office managers. It’s also a great choice for houseplant beginners or people who like the idea of only having one or two houseplants in their living space, so it doesn’t become a big hobby or time commitment.

Care: Potting, Water, and Soil

A typical succulent, aloe vera is an easy-care plant that thrives on neglect needs only infrequent watering. Plump leaves indicate the plant is full of moisture and does not need water. Slightly shriveled or puckered leaves indicate it’s time for water. Darkened or discolored leaves likely mean you’ve overdone it on water, and the plant may have developed root rot.

Unlike most houseplants that like slightly acidic soil, aloe vera prefers a more neutral blend. Look to keep the potting soil pH between 6.5-8.0. Some sources even suggest soil alkalinity as high as 8.5. This plant generally does fine in room temperature, but especially drafty windows may be less than ideal.

Pests and Other Problems

The most common problems are not getting enough light and getting too much water. Healthy aloe vera plants are rarely infested with pests, but they can be vulnerable to some houseplant pests like scale and mealybugs. There is also an aloe mite that can be especially destructive to these plants.

This plant is toxic to cats and dogs, but rarely causes more than temporary vomiting, diarrhea, change in urine color, and general queasiness. It’s not necessarily a plant that’s going to attract your pet’s attention, but if your pet likes to chew on things, we wouldn’t count on the mild spikes to deter your pet.

Cost and Availability

$-$$

The cost of an aloe vera plant most often depends on its size. It’s a slow grower, so if you want to be a larger, mature plant, it’s not uncommon to see price tags of $25-$50. You can typically find smaller plants for $5-$20.

Propagation and Repotting

The aloe vera plant is easy to propagate once it reaches a mature size and creates an offshoot. You can try propagation from just a leaf cutting but this is rarely successful as the leaf slowly shrivels and dies. Once an offshoot reaches a size that’s one-quarter of the original, mother plant, you can simply excise the offshoot with clean scissors or shears and repot this baby plant in fresh potting soil.

If you start an aloe vera plant from an offshoot, it’s a good idea to start in a modest sized pot and expect to repot the plant at least once on its way to a mature size. Mature aloe vera plants rarely, if ever, need repotting. Another way to take your love of the aloe vera plant to the next level is to make your own aloe vera gel.

Similar Types of Houseplants

You can find a ton of variety in the basic design of the spiky leaves with other types of aloe plants. This includes foliage with red leaves (Rubble Aloe or Red Aloe), tight spirals (Spiral Aloe), or fast-growing (Climbing Aloe). Larger aloe varieties include Aloe Principis and Mountain Aloe. Dwarf types of aloe plants, like the Short-Leafed Aloe, do well in partial-shade conditions. Lace Aloe tolerates colder temperatures well and can be grown outdoors as an in-ground garden plant.

Outside of aloe plants, other full-sun houseplants that like dry soil include most types of cacti. Looking for something a little less common? Keep an eye for blue chalk sticks or stonecrop plants (aeonium or echeveria).