As an indoor species, Aloe Vera plants require three to four years to fully mature. In its maturity, a potted plant’s leaves will measure about 10 inches in length. Unlike some houseplants, the Aloe Vera plant is preferred by many as it’s pretty low maintenance and doesn’t require much special care during growth phases.
Besides its unique beauty, the plant is also sought after for its medicinal and skin moisturizing properties. Compared to other succulents, Aloe Vera has a faster growth rate, but it’s still much slower than other houseplants.
Generally, these plants show signs of progressive growth every few months, marked by the elongation of leaf spears or the development of new leaves. Like all plants, there are several factors that can affect its growth and lifespan that you should be aware of.
Optimal Aloe Vera Growing Conditions
Though Aloe Vera is easy to care for, a number of factors may slow down plant growth, or worse still, kill it. To grow your plant successfully, one needs to understand the plant’s background. Aloe Vera is adapted to desert-like environments, where not much moisture is present.
In such climates, plants have a very slow growth rate. This allows them to dedicate most of their resources to water retention efforts.
Additionally, they grow their roots horizontally in search of water, which they collect and aptly store. Unlike tropical plants, there is no competition to acquire sunlight, and thus no need to grow tall rapidly. They also don’t grow too many leaves, and new leaves take about two weeks to shoot out.
For sustained growth, your plant needs the environmental conditions to be just right. As your home environment is likely quite different from the desert, their growth rate is likely to be different. It may take a bit of getting used to, but you’ll have a healthy and happy Aloe Vera plant so long as you’re committed!
Like we mentioned before, all plants have different requirements for growth. If thinking of picking one of these succulents, consider the following:
Aloe Vera and most succulents prefer well-draining soils. They usually require the soils to go dry before more watering. Although plastic planters can be used, they tend to retain moisture, which can be dangerous to your plant’s root health.
Terra-cotta and similarly porous planters are recommended, and they have an added benefit of being weighty. A heavy planter is essential to prevent your plant from tipping over as it grows to be top-heavy. The planter also requires a drainage hole.
Planters need to be deep enough to hold the plant’s entire stem should it have one. Always ensure there is enough room for the roots to spread out – pick planters that are wide and tall, not slender.
As with other succulents, Aloe Vera plants must be planted in well-draining soils. Usually, these are mixes with low amounts of dirt or none at all. Soil or slow draining mixes keep the plant’s roots moist. In a majority of the cases, this results in wilting. Instead, use perlite or coarse sand mixes, which tend to produce better results.
Keep To Sunlight Requirements
Plants require light to generate energy. These succulents require 3 hours of direct sunlight per day at a minimum. Exceeding 8 hours of light, however, begins to stress out your plant. Carried out over a successive number of days, this may stifle growth.
Even when grown indoors, find a bright corner of the room, especially during the winter months. Experts recommend placing your plant about 1 meter away from the lighting window for best results. Furthermore, south-facing windows have been found to provide just the right lighting requirements.
Aloe Vera plants fair well in temperatures that range between 10 – 30 degrees Celcius (50 – 85 F). Most of those growing a smaller Aloe variant are likely to do so indoors. Considering that Aloe plants consist primarily of stored water, gardeners would be better off growing indoors in colder temperatures.
Outdoor plants in these regions are likely to suffer from frost damage during winter months, thus limiting your chances of successful growth. Additionally, to keep your Aloe from developing cold shock indoors, ensure no cold outdoor drafts make their way to your plant during winter months.
It is easy to tell a healthy plant apart from one that has suffered cold shock. Healthy leaves are firm to the touch and have their spears full of gel. Drooping leaves that begin to turn yellow are a sign of cold shock.
Do Not Overwater Your Plant
Every Aloe Vera owner should always remember that these are incredibly drought-resistant companions. At home in the desert, their leaves are adapted to water storage; therefore, they do not require frequent watering. Once watered thoroughly, allow any excess water to drain from the potting soil—only water when the top-soil goes completely dry. Browning of the Aloe’s tips and shrinking leaves indicate that the plant is not receiving sufficient water.
Over-watering your plant results in more dire consequences, starting with black spots (water-soaked spots) showing up on the plant’s leaves. If the potting medium continues to be water-logged, the plant develops root rot. Though either extreme is detrimental to your plant’s health, over-watering appears to cause more severe problems than under-watering.
How To Speed Up Growth
Looking at what we’ve learned so far, there are a few things you can do to quicken the growth of your Aloe. When potting it, find potting mixes that are suited for succulents. Once potted, do not water your plant. This will prompt the plant to grow roots longer in search of water.
Allow about two weeks to elapse without watering after potting. Doing so has been known to produce better foliage. During cold months, keep your Aloe protected from the elements, as it’s common for the plant to go dormant during winter.
In time, your plant will begin to display signs of noticeable growth. If conditions are favorable, your Aloe Vera plant will begin to develop offsets. To allow your plant to conserve its energy, these pups need to be removed, but you can propagate these to plant in a new pot.
If you’re going to do so, just be sure to cut them off with a bit of root still intact. Succulents generally don’t need fertilizer to thrive, but a low-nitrogen fertilizer can enhance plant growth a bit.
As far as organic fertilizers go, banana peel tea serves as an excellent addition to your plant’s nutrition. For 600ml of fertilizer, you only need to soak 2 – 3 peels for a few days. Doing so allows the minerals in the peels to find their way into the water, which can then help your little Aloe grow big and strong.
Frequently Asked Aloe Vera Growing Questions:
Are Pets Safe With Aloe Vera Plants Around?
Aloe Vera is considered medicinal to humans, learn how to identify it here. That said, it can be moderately toxic to pets if ingested or exposed to their skin, so be sure to keep your plant out of reach from any curious puppies or kittens.
How Long Do Aloe Vera Plants Live For?
With over 400 different types of the Aloe plant, it’s tough to give an exact lifespan. Smaller plant types do not live long, but they reproduce rapidly, guaranteeing that you always have a potted plant to care for. Though they don’t reproduce as often, larger types live much longer – some for over two decades! On average, Aloe Vera plants live between five to twenty years, depending on the plant type.
Is the Aloe Vera Plant Pest Resistant?
No. Just like other plant life, your Aloe Vera is susceptible to insects and pests. Mealybugs can be found living between the plant’s leaves. Visible pests can be removed by hand, but this may not completely dissuade them from attacking your Aloe.
A more practical solution is to prepare a neem oil solution and wipe down your Aloe. The oil in the solution wards off would-be pests and leaves your plant looking shiny and clean!