You don’t need a green thumb to understand how to grow aloe vera plants. They are one of the most forgiving and hardy of indoor plants, which makes them a perfect choice for the beginning gardener. And, considering its many medicinal properties, aloe vera is one of the most useful plants for anyone to grow. But you can’t just bring an aloe vera plant home, water it when you feel like it and it will thrive. You do need to know the basics on how to grow aloe vera successfully.
First Off: Warnings
The first step in how to grow aloe vera is for you to know if the residents in your home will be safe around the plant. If you have rabbits or guinea pigs, then you do not want to get aloe vera plants. Guinea pigs are allergic to aloe vera. Rabbits find aloe vera lethal. Since both of these pets are nibblers by nature, they will nibble anything they get near, whether it should be in their mouths or not.
Some people are also allergic to aloe vera, but they have to eat it or smear the pulp onto their skins to bring on the allergic reactions. These manifest as hives and itchy patches of skin that resemble psoriasis. If you are allergic to either tulips or the onion family of foods, then you will most likely be allergic to aloe vera.
Aloe vera is a tropical plant and cannot stand the cold. An early frost can easily kill them. This is why, unless you live in a temperate place like Florida, the best place to learn how to grow aloe vera plants is indoors. Fortunately, since they are so popular, you can find baby aloe vera plants in greenhouses, garden centers and sometimes supermarkets. They often come with a helpful card of instructions on how to grow aloe vera.
If you know how to grow cactus plants, then you already have a good idea of how to grow aloe vera plants. They need to be on a sunny windowsill with the kind of soil usually sold as “cactus mix” in garden shops and greenhouses. You can also look for soil said to be “fast draining”.
The plant itself has been estimated to be 95% water, so you don’t need to water aloe vera as much as other plants. The soil needs to be completely dry before you add a cup or two of water. Stick your finger through the top layer of soil to be sure it is completely dry. How to grow aloe vera plants in winter is a little different than in summer. They will need a lot less watering, and will not seem as vibrant as in the summer.
If you get hot, dry summers, then those who are experienced in how to grow aloe vera plants say you can keep the plants outdoors. Remember that they are poisonous to rabbits. If you have wild rabbits about and don’t want them harmed, keep the aloe vera indoors. If there is a dramatic decrease in temperature between your summer nights and summer days, then also keep your plants indoors, where the temperature is more stable. They can only tolerate a very small amount of shade.
You do not need a lot of fertilizer in how to grow aloe vera successfully. In fact, you only need to use fertilizer once a year, preferably in the spring, when the plant is waking back up. You will need to repot as your plant gets bigger. They have a shallow root system, which is why you need pots with a large drainage hole or with one to two inches of gravel at the bottom before adding the soil.