Aloe vera is an eye-catching perennial that displays lance-shape succulent leaves decorated with white spots and edged with small whitish teeth. The leaves are known for their gel-like sap often used to soothe burns and moisturize skin. Native to hot, dry regions of Africa, this herbaceous perennial prefers frost-free, sunny, well-drained sites where the night temperature never dips below 50 degrees F. Thankfully, adaptable aloe vera makes a great houseplant; use it on its own or let it add vertical interest to a container of vining houseplants, such as philodendron or ivy. Exceptionally easy to grow, aloe vera is a good choice for a new gardener.
Growing Aloe Vera
Aloe vera grows best in bright light and well-drained soil. Choose a bright spot, such as a south- or west-facing window, for growing this houseplant. Avoid placing it in direct sunlight as its succulent foliage can get sunburned. As a drought-tolerant plant, this perennial grows best when its soil is allowed to dry out between waterings. Water aloe vera when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch.
Aloe vera can be grown outdoors as a landscape plant in frost-free climates. Like all succulents, it grows best in well-drained soil and bright, sunny conditions. Indoor-grown plants can transition outside for the summer, even in cold climates—as long as nighttime temperatures don't dip consistently below 50 degrees F. Place plants in a spot that receives direct morning sun and afternoon shade and is protected from rain.
Plant aloe transplants or offsets in quality, well-drained potting mix. Replant aloe every few years to refresh the soil. The size of an aloe plant is determined largely by the space it has for root growth. If you would like a large plant, repot it into a large pot to give it more room to grow. If you would like to maintain a small plant, confine it to a small container.
Keep aloe happy by fertilizing it a few times a year with general-purpose fertilizer labeled for use on houseplants per the manufacturer's instructions.
Types of Aloe
Aloe vera is the most common type of aloe, but there are many other varieties, some featuring decorative leaves.