Aloe plants are well known succulent house plants – distinctive and boldly spiky, they can add height and drama to a collection of Echeveria and other succulent plants.
Even though they're spectacular in bloom, generally they're grown for their spiky shapes and characteristically marked foliage.
Your Aloe plant will require a few basic things; fast draining soil with lots of aggregate like pumice, lava rock or small gravel mixed in, and bright light.
They require ample water, but then the soil must be allowed to dry almost completely as their fleshy roots will rot if there is too much moisture around them . See the page on succulent soil for more.
Provide the brightest light possible in your house, such as a south or west facing window, or grow lights if the natural light isn’t enough.
Things to watch out for are if it starts to lean or stretch towards the light, as this indicates that it needs more light. Aloe plants absolutely must have bright light to stay healthy.
Luckily, if it does etiolate – stretch – then it’s easy to fix. Simply unscrew the top five to eight leaf cluster at the top of the stem, just like a light bulb.
Twisting off the base of the plant makes it possible to expose these adventitious roots. Cutting them will make it a lot harder for them to emerge.
If you look closely, you’ll see pale yellow to white nubs, which are
the adventitious roots that all Aloe plants have. Let them dry and callous for a day or two before planting into dry soil.
When these are
planted into the soil, the roots emerge to anchor the plant. Water only a small amount after the roots start to grow to avoid rotting them.
Aloe plants are unique in this feature – the only similar plants are Haworthia, another member of the lily family.
The added bonus of regular pruning like this is that it will cause the buds below the break to emerge, making a nice bushy Aloe plant.
Without this continual pruning, the tendency is for the plant to simply continue to grow with one long stalk, eventually becoming completely unwieldy and awkward - I've seen them with sticks to prop them up, or they get tied to the window shade, or lean on a lamp.
Don't do this to your Aloe.
Sometimes the lower leaves die off, getting crispy and brown. Pull these off the stalk, rather than cutting them.
Any pieces left on the stem may rot, disfiguring or even injuring the plant. A leaf pulled off will heal much faster.
In the summer, your Aloe plants can live outdoors anywhere that stays above freezing.
They relish the warmth of a south facing patio, and are fantastic in mixed containers for succulents.
Combine them with Kalanchoe thryrsiflora, Aeonium and Crassula for a textural succulent planter.
Being exposed to the elements can trigger blooming in some of the larger types, an experience not to be missed for the number of hummingbirds they attract.
See some of my favorite Aloe species and varieties on the Aloe Succulent Plants page.
They range from teacup sized, to the size of a tree and everywhere in between.
For growing Aloe as a succulent houseplant choose some of the smaller types like Aloe juvenna, Aloe ‘Black Gem’ and Aloe andongensis to start.
An Aloe that pretty much everyone has heard about for medicinal use, cosmetics and burn treatments is Aloe vera.
This species can also be used as a houseplant - every kitchen should have one for its antiseptic properties.
Click on each link to find out more...
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