How to Grow Aloe Indoors
Links in this blog post are affiliate links to Amazon or Ebay that pay us a commission for a completed purchase. We are not paid in any way by the manufacturers to feature their product. Making a purchase through our links is the best way to support our site.
Most of us may have only ever seen aloe growing indoors.
But it can really make you wonder. How did such an exotic-looking, paradise-like plant become so commonplace in houses, apartments, and abodes of all kinds?
More importantly, is aloe really that happy in these settings?
Here’s the scoop on aloe: it’s a perennial plant that never dies back and stays green all year (that is, if it’s taken care of right, even if it doesn’t need much).
It grows native in the wild in deserts of the Middle East. They are tropical succulent plants that prefer arid environments, withstanding great heat and very little moisture.
A plant that needs very little moisture? Sign me up!
This is one of the reasons why aloe is so popular as a houseplant.
But if it’s a desert plant, wouldn’t it need tons of sun and prefer to be outdoors?
The answer is yes.
But here’s where aloe is most magical of all: it does just fine in low light if it’s already established.
Why Grow Aloe? | Growing Aloe Benefits
There’s one major perk of aloe that’s quite obvious:
Aloe is one of many beautiful jungle-like plants that add a natural touch of the tropics to your home.
Simply put, it’s a stunning plant that looks gorgeous. But unlike most tropical plants that demand humidity, warmth, and tons of moisture, aloe is fortunately not so picky.
Standard varieties don’t need to be watered, sometimes even for weeks.
Think of them almost like cacti. For this reason, they’re an easy-to-manage, hassle-free house plant that’s perfect for beginners to care for.
Yet people are also drawn to aloe for its unique usefulness—for health and healing.
Beyond seeing aloe very commonly as houseplants, the next most likely place you’ll see it is as an ingredient in skin products and medicines.
That’s because you can harvest the leaves and use the inner gel for dry skin, cuts, scrapes, and burns, too.
Different Types Of Aloe You Can Grow | Aloe Varieties
The aloe plant is instantly recognizable. But some of its varieties may be unfamiliar to most—though still a treat to grow.
You heard it right: there’s far more than just one type of aloe you can grow indoors.
The most common variety, called aloe vera, is either scientifically known as Aloe barbadensis or Aloe vera (both are the same plant). This is the most popular commercial type used for medicinal and skincare products and house plants.
But there are other kinds that can be grown indoors, too. Including:
- Aloe aristata – This aloe type grows quite erect and upright, with spiny tips, a darker green color, and rough, bumpy white spots as well.
- Aloe brevifolia – An aloe variety that grows much shorter, squatter leaves, but looks generally similar to Aloe vera. Has more distinct and longer spines, too.
- Aloe variegata – Commonly known as tiger aloe because of its striped appearance, this type has a more striking, intense look compared to the lighter green, spotted Aloe vera.
What Do I Need To Grow Aloe Indoors? | Growing Aloe Tools
To successfully grow your own aloe indoors, you don’t need much.
The best recommendations for aloe tools are:
- Shallow, very well-draining seed flat(s) (if seed starting)
- Very well-draining stone or clay house plant pot(s) or planter(s)
- Succulent or cactus potting soil mix
- Watering mister (if seed starting)
- Watering can (for only sporadic use)
And that’s pretty much it!
To get your actual aloe plant started, however, you’ll have to make a careful choice: whether you want to get started with aloe seeds or a small aloe transplant or cutting.
The former may be more of a challenge, while the latter may be a better approach to starting aloe indoors. An already-mature aloe plant will better respond to low light conditions than one just starting out.
Growing and Caring For Your Aloe Plant | Tips for Growing Aloe
To grow and take care of an aloe plant, you’ll need to have one in the first place. So here are a couple ways to get one started.
- Start your aloe plant from seed indoors.
This is relatively simple, though you’ll need to get aloe seeds first.
Still, aloe seeds need heat (about 75°F soil temperature) and bright light to germinate.
This may be a challenge for some home and apartment growers, especially those in colder regions. Some bottom heat, like from a horticultural heating pad, may be needed.
- The first step is to fill your shallow seed flat with only a thin layer of aloe potting mix.
If you can’t source your own, a mixture of half peat, quarter sand, and quarter perlite ratio should do nicely.
On the surface, sprinkle your aloe seeds on top. Cover with only a very thin dusting of sand (only about as thick as the seed itself is wide).
Place atop heating pad and in a place with bright light, such as a south-facing window.
If starting indoors during winter or in cold periods, make sure to position it far from cold areas or drafts.
- Next, very lightly dampen the seed on the sandy soil surface.
A good technique: dampen a paper towel or clean rag with warm water and lay it on top of the seeds and soil overnight. Remove it in the morning.
This should give seeds plenty of the moisture they need without waterlogging them, something you should definitely avoid with aloe.
- Repeat the paper towel/rag process until seeds begin to germinate.
Once they’re sprouted and tiny, avoid watering them daily. Instead, mist the soil only very lightly around their bases, once per week.
Once seedlings are an inch or two high, they can be transplanted into their final large pot (or pots). Place in a bright lit position in your home.
Mist them with water deeply immediately afterward, then switch back to once every other day. After a week and the seedling seems fine, switch to misting once per week.
- Once seedlings are about 4 inches tall, water even less, even just twice per month.
Water them deeply at the roots with the watering can.
Make sure to give soil plenty of time to completely dry out before the next watering—this helps avoid soil disease and fungal issues it’s incredibly susceptible to from damp soils.
Once aloe plants are larger (4-5 inches tall), they can better handle low light conditions. Keep away from cold spots.
- Purchase/obtain a seedling or side shoot and propagate your own.
Besides seed, one of the most popular (and easiest) ways to start your own aloe plant (besides buying already established plants) is to start one from an aloe side-shoot.
- Live in a very low light home? This is the most successful way to start aloe indoors.
Get a side-shoot (also called cutting or division) from your own already mature aloe plant, or from someone you know who has one.
These are basically little baby aloe plants that grow up around the bases of mature aloe plants.
- Cut away a baby aloe side shoot (or more than one for more aloe plants).
Make sure the stem at the bottom of the baby aloe, the white long shoot, is about an inch or two long. This is where your new aloe plant’s roots will grow.
- In desired pot or container, bury white part of shoot in soil with plant resting upright.
Plant in ideal oil mixture for aloe plants described in the previous section.
Follow the directions for watering aloe seedlings that are anywhere from 1-2 inches up to 4-5 inches.
These instructions also apply if you’re transplanting a smaller purchased or obtained seedling into its permanent home pot or planter. Water them more often once you transplant, such as every other day.
Once you know they are probably comfortable and established (a week following transplanting), you can water them even less.
Spritz smaller plants with a mister, and water larger plants more deeply with a watering can, giving ample time for soil to dry between waterings.
Make sure to keep plants away from cold.
Harvesting And Using Your Aloe Plant | Aloe Uses
Once you have an aloe seedling or plant established, the growing is slow-going, sometimes taking a year before you have a large plant.
This is especially the case in low light conditions. On a sunny windowsill, however, aloe will grow faster, given that its taken care of and watered correctly.
But once it’s a large and resplendent plant, you can begin harvesting and using its leaves.
The inner gel of Aloe vera varieties of aloe is great for cuts, scrapes, and especially burns (even sunburns).
To use aloe leaf gel, gently cut away a leaf at its base away from the aloe’s central stem with a clean knife.
Choose only leaves from the outer ring of leaves that still feel plump and thick when you gently squeeze them (leave the ones in the center to grow more leaves).
Also, only take as much as two thirds of leaves off your aloe plant at one time.
Leave the last third so the plant can recover and give it about a month before the next use (though taking a leaf here and there sporadically affords you more frequent use).
Next, slit open the leaf lengthwise. You’ll see its translucent gel inside.
Dab your fingertips into the gel and apply directly to your wound or burn.
The gel has a soothing, moisturizing effect that is slightly antiseptic, too, according to studies and ancient traditional uses among herbalists.