By: Liz Baessler
Aloes make wonderful houseplants – they’re low maintenance, hard to kill, and handy if you have a sunburn. But would these tough plants benefit from a little extra care? Keep reading to learn more about fertilizing aloe plants.
Aloe plants are succulents and, like pretty much all of their close relatives, they need very little attention in order to thrive. In fact, one of the worst things you can do for an aloe is look after it too closely, and root rot from over watering is one of the leading causes of aloe demise.
So, does the same hold for fertilizer? Yes and no. Aloe plants are adapted to very poor desert soils and can survive with very little in the way of nutrients, but that doesn’t mean they won’t benefit from the occasional feeding.
As long as you don’t overdo it, fertilizing aloe plants,especially those growing in containers, will work wonders for keeping them healthy and happy.
Aloe vera fertilizer needs are few and far between. It’s best to limit your applications to the growing season, starting in the spring.
For aloe plants in the garden, a single drenching in the spring ought to be enough to last the whole year. For potted plants, more frequent applications are necessary, roughly once per month.
The best fertilizers to use are liquid 10-40-10 houseplant mixes, or mixes designed specifically for succulents. Avoid granular fertilizers. If your aloe is in a container, water it thoroughly the day before feeding. This should flush out any lingering salts and reduce the risk of tip burn.
When in doubt, always err on the side of less fertilizer when feeding an aloe. These plants need very little in the way of nutrients, and while a little boost is good for them, too much of a good thing will quickly overwhelm them.
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As African natives, aloe plants are used to desert-like conditions: the dry air, the boiling temperatures as well as the sandy, nutrient-deficient soil. Doesn’t seem like too much of a hospitable environment to me, but aloes love it. Since the aloe is so used to these extreme conditions, you might think you can shave some pennies off your plant shopping list by the foregoing the fertilizer. Pot? Check. Watering can? Necessary. Fertilizer? Why bother buying a product that will give you aloe more nutrients than it was ever used to having? It doesn’t need it! But aloe plants don’t know what they’ve been missing! Just because an aloe doesn’t need fertilizer to grow doesn’t mean it cannot benefit from it: the right fertilizer can help your aloe grow bigger and more beautiful than ever!
Fertilizing your aloe can help you turn things up a notch in two major ways:
Last Updated: February 15, 2021 References Approved
This article was co-authored by Artemisia Nursery. Artemisia Nursery is a retail plant nursery in Northeast Los Angeles specializing in California native plants. Artemisia Nursery is a worker-owned small business with plans to become a worker-owned cooperative. In addition to California native plants, Artemisia Nursery offers a selection of succulents, heirloom veggie and herb starts, house plants, pottery, and gardening tools and supplies. Drawing on the knowledge of the founders, Artemisia Nursery also offers consultations, designs, and installations.
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Aloe vera plants are native to tropical regions, but they’re common household plants in a variety of climates. Caring for an aloe vera plant is simple once you know the basics. With a little effort, you can help your aloe vera plant survive for years to come.
Determining how much light aloes need can be difficult, because some sources recommend full sun while others endorse bright, indirect light or anything in between. Different aloes have different requirements, depending on their size and where they come from. The tree aloe, for example, prefers full sun, while Descoing's aloe is frequently shaded by grasses in the wild and can get by on bright, indirect light. Many others, such as aloe vera, which grows in USDA zones 8 through 11, should get partial sun. If you can’t determine what your particular aloe prefers, try placing it where it will receive sunlight in the morning and shade during the afternoon. A general rule of thumb is that larger-growing aloes need more sun than the smaller varieties.