How Often and When To Water Aloe Plants

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Aloe barbadensis (AL-oh bar-buh-DEN-sis) is an easy-to-grow succulent plant that is fairly trouble-free as long as you water it correctly and give it the right amount of light.

Correct watering for Aloe vera (as with many plants) is soak-and-dry watering. The plant should be deeply watered occasionally and allowed to dry almost completely between waterings.

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Watering aloe plant | SomeMeans-DepositPhotos

To determine whether your plant needs water, simply poke your finger into the top couple of inches of soil. If they feel dry, it’s time to provide a thorough regular watering.

In terms of time, generally speaking, an aloe plant should be watered about every three weeks, but this will vary depending upon the surrounding factors, such as time of year, humidity levels, amount of sun, and so forth.

In this article, we explore the various considerations that should be taken into account when watering Aloe vera. 



It is worth noting that these considerations can, for the most part, be generalized to watering all sorts of plants.

Do You Want Your Aloe Vera Plant To Survive Or Thrive?

Aloe veras are fairly drought tolerant; however, they will enjoy slightly more frequent watering than they would need to survive simply.

While your plant might not die if you let the soil dry out completely for weeks on end, it will definitely not look its best with this sort of neglect. The entire pot of soil should never turn to dust.

Aloe plants thrive in many soil types, but it also grows well in dry and poor soil.

By the same token, your Aloe plants’ soil should never feel soggy for an extended period of time. If you water too frequently and keep the soil wet, your plant will surely suffer root rot and fungal infection in its moisture-holding succulent leaves.

For this reason, you should not give the plant small, frequent drinks. Instead, wait for the top couple of inches of soil to dry and then pour water through the soil.

You should allow the water to run out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. Be sure to empty the drainage saucer beneath your plant. Never allow your Aloe vera to stand in water, which promotes root rot.

Do The Poke Test To Check Your Aloe Vera’s Soil

When you check the soil surrounding your plant, it should feel a bit springy when you press down on the surface. 

When you poke your finger into the soil, you should be able to feel just slight dampness deep in the soil.

If the soil is too dense for you to be able to poke your finger into it, you need to repot with a lighter, airier soil mixture.

Aloe Vera Likes Sharply Draining Soil

If you pot up your Aloe vera in a soil mix that contains a lot of clay or is otherwise poorly draining, it will hold onto the water for too long. This will also lead to root rot.

A relatively dry soil with good drainage will also work well for your aloe plant.

Ensure your plant has a sharply draining soil mixture, such as a commercially prepared succulent or cactus mix.

If this is not available to you, you can use a good-quality potting mix with some coarse sand and some organic matter, such as coco coir blended in.

Generally speaking, a mixture consisting of two parts potting mix, one part coarse sand and one part coco coir, will do fine.

Choose A Container That Allows Good Air Circulation And Drainage

Aloe vera has no deep roots, so a broad, shallow container is a good choice. This will provide plenty of soil surface area for good air circulation in the soil.

It also provides space for pups to pop up, as they are sure to do, no matter what sort of container you use.

Using a succulent and cactus soil mix will also ensure good aeration and excellent drainage.

Two aloe plants, deck, watering can.Pin

Remember that Aloe vera tends to be top-heavy, so choose a container with some weight to prevent toppling. Terra Cotta is an excellent choice because it provides both weight and air circulation.

Naturally, any container you choose should have plenty of drainage holes to allow water to pour through freely.

What Are The Signs Of Incorrect Aloe Vera Watering?

Here are the different signs of improper watering you should look out for:

Overwatering

If you overwater your plant, you will likely see wilted, darkened, and even mushy leaves. Heavily overwatered plants may develop water blisters (edema) on the leaves.

When plants are overwatered, mold (sometimes even mushrooms) will grow in the soil. You may see an abundance of fungus gnats around your healthy plant.

Excess moisture will also lead to root rot.

Fungal infection causes root rot and fungus growth in the aloe vera leaves. These manifest as dark brown or black, mushy spots.

If your plant is exhibiting signs of overwatering, you may be able to correct the problem by simply laying the container on its side to allow all excess water to run out and then withholding water until the soil is nearly dry.

If your plant shows signs of root rot and other fungal problems, you should unpot the entire plant, rinse off affected soil, cut away any mushy, moldy, dead leaves and roots, rinse the plant again, and spray roots and leaves with an anti-fungal treatment.

Allow the plant to air dry for a couple of days before repotting into entirely fresh soil and a brand-new or sterilized pot. Withhold water for a week, then light watering to moisten the soil.

If and when your plant produces new growth, you can start a soak-and-dry watering regimen.

Underwatering

It is hard to underwater an Aloe vera, and underwatering is greatly preferred to overwatering.

If your plant is dying of thirst, you’ll see that the fleshy leaves become withered, shrunken, and puckered. This is because the plant is consuming the moisture stored in its leaves.

Shrunken, withered, drying leaves will begin to yellow. They will dry out, turn brown, and die if no water is provided. Even this may not mean your plant is dead, though.

The roots may still be alive, and you may be able to revive your plant by cutting away the dead leaves and providing a deep and thorough watering.

Note that when rescuing a plant left without water for a long time, you will need to soak the plant’s roots. You can do this by setting the entire container into a tub of water for an hour or so.

Sometimes it’s necessary to remove the plant from the soil and soak its roots directly in water (without soil) before repotting into fresh soil. The reason for this is that soil that has been left dry for a very long time often will not soak up water at all.

Take The Time Of Year Into Account When Watering Aloe Vera

Like most plants, Aloe Vera produces active growth during the spring and summer months, so it needs more water during this time.

You can check if it’s time to water by sticking your finger into the soil. If it’s dry to the touch, then water it.

Check mature plants frequently and provide a thorough watering whenever the top couple of inches of soil are dry.

Remember, it’s important to establish a watering schedule whether grown indoors or outdoors.

In the wintertime, your plants will need a rest period. It is not unusual to water every month in winter. 

Remember that less is more. Watch your plant for signs of underwatering in the winter months.

If the air is very dry in your home, or your plant is exposed to a great deal of sunlight, it may need a bit more water.

Remember, it requires bright, indirect sunlight to ensure healthy growth. It needs about 6 to 8 hours of sunlight daily. However, unless acclimated move away from direct sunlight, as it leads to sunburn.

In addition to light and humidity, temperature changes can affect your plant’s need for water. If you keep your house quite warm in winter, your plant will need more water. In cooler temperatures, it will need less.

Remember, Aloe vera grows best in dry conditions, as it originated in warm and arid climates.

If your Aloe vera has spent the summer outdoors, it may react negatively to being brought indoors; however, this may not be caused by too much or too little water.

If the soil seems to be at the right level of dampness, you may just need to be a bit patient while your plant adjusts to the setting change. Remember that slow transitioning is often helpful in preventing symptoms of shock.

Repotting And Transplanting Affect Watering

Remember that early spring is also the best time to repot Aloe vera and separate pups from parent plants to propagate new plants.

Immediately after dividing and repotting your Aloe vera, the newly transplanted plants may need a bit more water until they become well-established.

Keep the soil slightly moist for the first week after transplanting to encourage your outdoor plants to set down new roots.

Note that you needn’t fertilize when repotting if you are using good-quality potting soil. Still, providing a half dose of a general-purpose liquid fertilizer a month after repotting early in the springtime is a good idea.

You can also use a general-purpose organic succulent fertilizer or liquid plant food formulated for cacti and succulents.

Fertilizers should be considered a reward for new growth. You can repeat this treatment once a month throughout the rest of the growing season but don’t fertilize during the winter.

If you begin to notice a salty-looking crust on the surface of the soil, it means that minerals are building up in the soil.

In this case, remove any crusty buildup by hand and flush the soil with rainwater, filtered water, or bottled water to wash away the excess salts and minerals.

The Type Of Water You Use Makes A Difference

Like most plants, Aloe vera tends to prefer rainwater or filtered water. Tap water may have too many minerals, not to mention chemicals, to keep your plant happy.

Flushing pure water through the soil helps prevent salt and mineral buildup.

If you must use tap water, allow it to stand for 24 hours before watering your plants. This will allow the water to come to room temperature.

It also gives the chemicals a chance to dissipate and allows minerals to settle into the bottom of the container.

Don’t stir up or disturb the water. Pour it gently into a watering can, leaving a bottom couple of mineral-ridden inches in the original container.

Watering Methods Make A Difference

For most succulents, it is best to pour water through the potting medium and allow it to drain out through the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.

Even so, when you pour water into your Aloe soil, take care not to pour it on the aloe leaves. This can cause problems with fungal infection.

If your mother plant Aloe vera has produced so many pups that it is not possible to pour water directly onto the soil, water from below by placing the entire container into a bowl or bucket of water.

Allow the plant to soak up water from below for about 15 minutes. Set a timer so as not to forget it. Allow all the excess water to drain out before returning your plant to its customary location. 

Watering Aloe Vera And Other Plants Is Not Really Mysterious

Although it is possible to find lots of intricate and fussy instructions on watering this plant or that, the fact of the matter is the vast majority of plants do best with soak-and-dry watering, which is especially true succulents such as Aloe Vera.

It is always a good idea to begin with, a soak and dry watering routine. Watch your plants including indoor plants carefully and adjust your watering plans according to the signs you observe.

If your plants’ soil feels very dry or the container feels light or empty when you lift it, it’s a sign you may need to water more often or more deeply. Likewise, shriveled, thirsty-looking leaves are telling you they need more water.

If your plants’ soil never seems to dry out, or the container is heavy and drippy when you lift it, you are overwatering. Likewise, bloated, droopy, mushy leaves let you know you are drowning your plant.

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