Despite my experience as an outdoor gardener, learning to grow and care for houseplants has been a constant struggle. So much so that I had all but given up on the idea of keeping containers of any kind indoors throughout the winter. Determined to successfully manage my own indoor garden, I gradually added several species of easy to grow potted plants. Among the most forgiving of the plants grown inside my home is a small collection of succulents. Without doubt, my favorite among them is the aloe vera.
Why Grow Aloe Vera?
I was initially drawn to aloe vera for its many purported benefits. Known for its use in skin care, the plant is also believed to help purify and remove toxins from indoor air. As a succulent, its uniquely erect leaves stand tall in their pots, which makes them an immensely attractive accent piece when used in home décor. As there are hundreds of species of aloe vera plant available to gardeners, selecting the ideal cultivar will require a little research. Though many types of aloe vera will remain quite small and are well-suited for growth in pots, others may grow to become exceptionally large.
How to Grow Aloe Vera Indoors
To keep aloe vera plants looking their best, gardeners should consider requirements such as light, temperature, and water needs. Aloe plants should be situated near a bright sunny window, making certain to avoid direct exposure. Provided that the plant receives enough light, aloe vera plants should maintain a full, glossy appearance. On occasion, the plant may need to be turned in order to promote more even growth. As aloe vera grows best when conditions are warm, avoid placing the plant where the temperature could fall below 60 degrees F. (15 C.). Cold drafts, ventilation systems, or other inconsistencies in temperature may cause the plants to become stressed, especially during the winter months.
As a succulent, the regulation of moisture within the container is among the most important aspects of caring for aloe vera plants indoors. Aloe vera plants are able to store water in their leaves, as well as their roots. Excess watering will often result in noticeable damage to the plant. Therefore, best practices suggest that aloe vera containers should be watered only seldomly. This is ideal for many growers, like me, who may have the tendency to forget to water plants for short periods of time. Before watering, the top soil of each aloe vera container should be allowed to dry completely.
Should You Repot Aloe Vera?
Aloe vera plants are also unique in their preference for growth in small containers. Suggested pot sizes for aloe vera plants are generally those which are only somewhat larger than the root ball of the plant. In fact, even larger aloes seem to prefer tightness of the roots within the growing container. In general, aloe vera plants will only need to be repotted once every several years. A good rule of thumb is that growers should watch for the roots of the plant to begin growing through the bottom drainage hole before repotting. In monitoring my own aloe plants, this seems to occur once every three to five years, depending upon the species.