Aloe Vera truly is one of the incredible houseplants you can grow. While the are grown for their aesthetic value, Aloe Vera plants have also been cultivated for thousands of years for their medicinal value. One of the other charms of the Aloe Vera plant is the fact that it requires very little maintenance. While it is relatively easy to have an Aloe Vera plant thrive inside your home, some people are unsure how often they should water this unique little succulent.
So, How Often Should I Water My Aloe Plant?
The most common questions we receive in regards to Aloe Vera plants revolve around proper watering schedules. Since the leaves of the Aloe plant contain a watery gel, some people assume that these little plants require lots of water. However, this is actually a common misconception. The truth is, Aloe Vera plants actually prefer dry soil, as they are very susceptible to root rot. In fact, Aloe Vera plants are in far more danger of being over-watered than under-watered. If the soil is waterlogged and the roots are constantly surrounded by moisture, there is a good chance the plant will wilt and, eventually, completely die.
How to Avoid Over-watering
One of the easiest ways to check if your Aloe plant actually needs water is to check the soil. Ideally, the top two-to-three inches of soil will be completely dry to the touch before you re-water your Aloe plant.
While you can check how dry the soil is with your finger, some people prefer to grasp a small clump of soil from the surface of the planter and crumble it between their fingers. If the soil crumbles and has a light brown or light gray appearance, it is probably time to re-water your Aloe plant.
On the other hand, if the soil is moist and has a darker colour, there is a good chance the plant does not need more water. For most people, a watering schedule of once per week is usually sufficient; however, others find that watering their Aloe on a bi-weekly basis works better.
If you are ever unsure if you should water your Aloe plant, try waiting a couple of days, as Aloe plants and other succulents tend to recover better from drought than being over-watered.
Factors that Determine How Often You Should Water Your Aloe Plant
While you might assume that all Aloe Vera plants should be watered with the same frequency, the truth is there are a number of factors that can impact your plant’s need for water.
For starters, Aloe plants that are grown in dry environments usually need to be watered more frequently than those that are grown in humid homes. This is because the dry air will actually pull moisture from the soil at a faster rate.
The amount of sunlight your plant is exposed to will also influence your watering schedule. If the plant receives plenty of natural light throughout the day, it will need to be watered more often. This is because the sunlight pulls moisture from the soil and also causes the plant to use more water.
This is why it is important to find a watering schedule that actually works for your specific Aloe plant. When you are first starting out, check the soil on a weekly basis and adjust your watering schedule until you find a frequency that allows the top two-to-three inches of soil to dry out between each watering.
Signs of overwatering in an aloe plant include:
- Wilting or drooping leaves: Overwatered aloe plants may have leaves that appear soft, wilted, or droopy. They may lose their firmness and become mushy or translucent.
- Yellowing leaves: The leaves of an overwatered aloe plant may start turning yellow. This is often a result of the excess water causing root rot and affecting the plant’s ability to absorb nutrients.
- Root rot: Overwatering can lead to root rot, which is characterised by a foul odour, mushy roots that may be brown or black in colour, and the presence of mold or fungi around the roots.
- Pests and diseases: Overwatering weakens the plant’s defenses, making it more susceptible to pests and diseases such as fungus gnats, mealybugs, or fungal infections.
To manage an overwatered aloe plant, follow these steps:
- Stop watering: Allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again. Overwatered aloe plants need time to recover and dry out. This can take several days to a week or more, depending on the severity of the overwatering.
- Improve drainage: Ensure that the pot your aloe plant is in has drainage holes to prevent water from accumulating at the bottom. If the soil does not drain well, consider repotting the plant in a well-draining succulent or cactus-specific potting mix.
- Check the roots: If possible, remove the plant from its pot and inspect the roots. Trim off any mushy or rotten roots using sterilised scissors or a knife. Allow the remaining roots to dry out for a day or two before repotting.
- Repot the plant: Choose a pot with drainage holes that is slightly larger than the root ball. Fill the pot with a well-draining succulent or cactus soil mix. Plant the aloe, ensuring the roots are positioned correctly and covered with soil. Avoid burying the stem too deeply.
- Adjust watering practices: Going forward, water your aloe plant sparingly. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings and water only when the top parts of the soil is completely dry. It’s better to underwater than overwater.
- Provide adequate light: Place the aloe plant in a location with bright, indirect sunlight. Aloe plants need several hours of sunlight each day but should be protected from intense, direct sunlight to prevent sunburn.
- Monitor the plant: Keep a close eye on your aloe plant’s progress. Look for signs of new growth and healthy leaves. Adjust your care routine based on the plant’s response and needs.
Choosing an Aloe-friendly Soil
While your watering schedule is important, also choosing the type of soil is vital. Since Aloe plants and other succulents thrive in dry conditions, it is important that you choose well-draining soil. This will help regulate moisture levels and prevent root rot, especially if you accidentally over-water your Aloe plant. If you are unsure about the soil quality, you can repot the plant in any cactus or succulent-specific potting soil mixture.
If you cannot find a pre-mixed potting soil that works for succulents, you can make your own. An easy mixture is combining one part of sand or perlite with one part of regular potting soil. Mix these two parts together. The sand or perlite will help prevent root rot and other issues that can occur when the soil holds too much water.
What Type of Water Should You Use?
While it may sound a little silly, Aloe plants can become discolored when they are watered directly from the tap. This is because the leaves are sensitive to both chlorine and fluoride.
If you want to prevent the leaves from becoming droopy or discoloured, you can use filtered or bottled water. If you prefer to use tap water, fill an open-air container with tap water the day before you water your Aloe plant. Let the container sit for 24 hours, as this allows some of the chlorine and fluoride to evaporate from the water.
Other Aloe Vera Care Tips
Lighting is also important as aloe plants would prefer bright indirect sunlight. This is because the gel-filled leaves are susceptible to leaf burn. Aloe plants also require very little fertiliser. In fact, some people do not fertilise their Aloe plants at all. If you do decide to fertilise the soil, consider diluting your chosen plant food to about half the recommended strength. Avoid fertilising the plant more than twice a year, as over-fertilising can damage the plant.