Aloe vera can be used in many ways as a decorative and medicinal plant. But how do you look after them properly? Read everything about watering, fertilizing, and cutting the succulent with us.
Aloe vera is used by many people as a medicinal or green plant. When it comes to caring, however, you need some background knowledge so that the plant grows healthy and vigorously. We’ll tell you how to properly care for aloe vera.
Aloe vera care: pour aloe vera
As a succulent plant, aloe vera can store water in its leaves and tolerate drought over long periods of time. Compared to many other indoor plants, it therefore seldom needs water and is sensitive to waterlogging. The substrate should still be kept permanently moist and not dry out completely. If the aloe vera is poured without the water being able to run off, soil aeration is inhibited by the water saturation and root rot can occur.
With rosette-forming plants such as aloe vera, it is also important not to let the water run over the leaves when watering. Otherwise, water can build up in the heart of the rosette – this promotes fungal growth and can cause the plant to begin to rot. Water that is low in lime, such as rainwater or mineral water, is best suited for aloe vera.
But how often should you water the aloe vera? Usually, it is enough to water them once a week. The right time can be easily determined with a finger test: when the surface of the earth is dry, water can be poured again.
Greater caution is required with young plants because the leaves cannot yet store as much water as those of older plants. They should therefore be poured more often, but with smaller amounts of water.
Since the aloe vera hibernates in our latitudes because of the cooler climate, it is important to adapt the watering rhythm of the plant. In its cool winter quarters, it should only be watered occasionally so that the root ball does not dry out. The risk of root rot from too much moisture is higher during winter, as the aloe vera does not absorb as much water as it does during the vegetation phase.
Fertilize aloe vera
Aloe vera originally comes from the desert-like, hot regions of the Arabian Peninsula. There the nutrient supply of the plant is only possible to a very limited extent. It therefore naturally only needs a little fertilizer. However, occasional fertilization of the aloe vera makes sense, especially if it is used as a medicinal plant. It then recovers better from a cut and forms strong, healthy leaves with lots of gel.
During the growing season, it is therefore good to fertilize the aloe vera with irrigation water about every two weeks. In this way, the nutrients that are important for the plant are better distributed in the soil solution, are available more quickly, and ensure healthy and vigorous growth. For example, our Gardender organic indoor and green plant fertilizer is suitable. In addition to a balanced nutrient composition and a resource-saving, lower phosphorus content, this has additional microorganisms to be able to better utilize the nutrients from the substrate. Due to its completely organic and animal-free production, it also protects the environment and the climate.
You do not have to fertilize the aloe vera immediately after repotting, as the nutrient reserves of the fresh soil are still sufficient to supply the plant. During the winter dormancy between October and April, fertilization of the plant is also not necessary.
Cutting aloe vera plant
A care cut is not necessary with aloe vera. If you want to keep your plant in shape so that it doesn’t grow too big or spread out, you can cut off the outer, old leaves if necessary. Diseased or damaged leaves should also always be removed.
If you want to use it as a medicinal plant, you should regularly use the outer leaves of the Harvest aloe vera to use the gel. Plants that are more than three years old are particularly suitable for this – their leaves are larger and more vital than those of younger plants. They have more gel, recover better from harvest and form new leaves faster.
Aloe vera turns brown: what to do?
Sometimes the leaves of the aloe vera can turn brown, grayish-purple, or pale. There can be several reasons for this: If the outer, older leaves are turning brown, there is nothing to worry about. The plant continues to develop, shedding the older leaves and forming new ones inside.
Sometimes the leaves are also discolored immediately after repotting – this is also not a problem. The aloe vera only needs a little time to grow in the new substrate, then the discoloration disappears by itself.
If the aloe vera has not been repotted for a long time, there may be a lack of nutrients in the old substrate, so that the leaves turn brown. The plant is then supplied with nutrients again by repotting in good time.
A reddish to brownish color can be a reaction to too much direct sunlight, as the aloe vera can protect itself in this way. If the leaf tips are also dry, it is time to move the aloe vera to a less sunny location. The leaves will then take on their strong, green color again after a short time.
It is more problematic if none of the problems described above can be identified and rectified. Especially if the inner, younger leaves turn brown or yellow, this can be an indication of too much water. As a succulent plant, the aloe vera can store large amounts of water in its leaves, but it does not tolerate waterlogging very well. At the latest when the aloe vera leaves become soft, if you squeeze them between your fingers, backwater should be poured out, and watering should be stopped completely for one to two weeks. Discolored, soft leaves can be cut off and disposed of, as they provide a good target for fungi to attack.
The most common reasons for brown leaves on aloe vera :
- Growth: Young leaves follow, old leaves can be removed.
- Repotting: Sometimes the aloe vera turns brown immediately after repotting, fine roots must first be formed, then the aloe becomes vital again by itself.
- Old substrate: There are no more nutrients in the substrate, the aloe vera should be repotted soon.
- Too much sun: If the aloe vera is in direct sunlight for too long, brown leaves can appear as sun protection. It should be moved to a more shady location.
- Waterlogging: If too much water is poured, the leaves can turn brown and soft. Watering should be completely stopped for 1 to 2 weeks so that the root ball can dry off. Warning: risk of rot and fungal attack.
You can find out more about the origin of the plant, its overwintering, and the right potting soil in our advanced article, which deals with the location, plants, and propagation of aloe vera.