How to Care for Your Aloe Plant As Well As it Cares for You

·3-min read
aloe plant by a window and on a table
How to Care for an Aloe PlantHearst Owned

Beloved for its healing properties and easy care routine, aloe vera is an excellent indoor plant for even beginner gardeners. However, its low-maintenance appearance can be deceiving. Properly caring for an aloe vera plant does take work. They're desert plants that thrive in bright indirect light and extra-dry soil, so you need to find just the right spot in your house—and avoid overwatering. It won't tell you that it's struggling by dropping any leaves, either. The new routine is well worth the trouble, though: A healthy aloe vera plant has funky leaves that look as interesting as those of any succulent or cacti, plus it has gel in its leaves that you can harvest for many useful purposes, from treating sunburns to making your own moisturizer.

If you have an aloe plant at home or plan to buy one soon and want it to last, you need to know how to care for it properly. Ahead, Jen Stearns, owner of the plant boutique Urban Sprouts, which specializes in curating and maintaining greenery indoors, shares her expert tips on how to grow aloe plants and keep them alive and well.

Expert Aloe Plant Care


Start by placing your aloe plant in a pot with good drainage. You can use rocky soil or drainage rocks or a pot with a hole in the bottom—you just want to be sure that the plant's roots have plenty of room to breathe. To determine the right size pot, measure an inch or two larger than the root ball. A larger pot ensures that the roots can expand and grow without smothering each other.

Watering Schedule

A cactus-like plant, aloe is used to extremely hot and dry climates. That means that the plant is prone to overwatering. Rather than stick to a weekly schedule, check the soil's water level before giving your plant another drink. Place your finger or a wooden skewer in the soil about an inch or two down; if you're still sensing some moisture, wait a few more days before watering. You want to let the soil dry out completely first.

Placement and Light

Keep your aloe plant in a spot with bright, indirect light. Despite its desert origins, aloe can get sunburned if it's put in too much light suddenly. If your aloe plant does get sunburnt, it will have a white or light brown discoloration against the green leaves. Once burnt, the leaves will stay that color.

Aloe is also sensitive to drastic fluctuations in temperature. Keep the plant away from drafty doors or vents, especially in the winter. This also means that you shouldn't place your plant in the direct path of your air-conditioning or heat vents.


Aloe grows very slowly. If you plan to harvest the leaves for gel, the plant should be 6 to 8 inches tall and have 10 or more leaves. When you want to use some, select the leaves from the bottom and work your way upward. Once a leaf has been cut or removed, it will not grow back. All new growth will come from the top of the plant. Use the harvested aloe gel for skin irritations or sunburns.

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