Growing aloe vera indoors is a joy – as long as you follow a few simple tips. Gardening expert Laura LeBoutillier has a comprehensive guide to growing aloe vera on her YouTube channel, and while some of what she says will be familiar to those of you who've been learning how to grow succulents, some tips may surprise you. You may even realize that the way you've been caring for your aloe is actually not quite right and tweak your care routine accordingly.
Laura can be found at the Garden Answers YouTube channel.
1. Aloe vera growing indoors needs optimal light conditions
If you've included aloe vera as part of your indoor plant ideas, it will need all the light it can get, right? Yes, Laura confirms this, but with an important disclaimer. 'The only thing you want to watch for is not to put it too close to glass, especially if you've got it positioned in a west-facing window, because that glass can intensify the sun and burn the leaves of your aloe plant.'
So, position it slightly away from the window, and ideally make sure it doesn't get too much morning sun. Unlike other succulents, aloe doesn't seem to like too much direct sun all day.
2. Watering aloe is not a one-size-fits-all situation
Watering plants is often the most problematic area of plant care, and you really have to get it right with aloe. Again, it's not quite like other succulents that can be left without water for months. The thing with aloe is 'it just depends', says Laura, with factors like ambient humidity and temperature in a room playing a big part.
The best way to know if it's time to water your aloe, according to Laura, is to do a finger test. 'You want to wait until those top two inches of soil have dried out,' before watering, but don't wait too long, or the plant leaves 'will start to get thinner because they're having to utilize their own moisture'. A general rule, Laura advises to water about every two weeks during the summer growing season and 'back down' on watering during the winter months.
3. You shouldn't use regular potting mix with aloe
In this one respect aloe is exactly like cacti and other succulents. 'Aloes prefer soil that drains really quickly and don't like a lot of moisture accumulating around their roots.' Don't use regular potting mix but always go for a cacti or succulent potting mix.
If you see that your aloe plant's leaves are getting mushy around the base or flopping, it's probably because the soil is holding on to too much moisture, harming your plant.
Head over to our indoor garden ideas for inspiring ways to create a striking display of house plants.
Anna's background is in academic research – she is the author of London Writing of the 1930s, published by Edinburgh University Press. She is a keen urban gardener and has an impressive collection of house plants.
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