But, when underwatered, aloe will express its displeasure through puckered, wilting leaves and slowed growth.
In addition, it will not be able to produce any sap – which is prized for its healing properties.
Yet, with a little love and enough moisture, aloe vera can live up to 100 years and grow to 3 feet (1m) in height.
So, just how often do you water aloe vera and what is the best method? Here are some tips on how to keep a happy plant.
How Often To Water An Aloe Vera Plant
How often to water aloe should be based on need rather than a set schedule. A hands-on approach is warranted if you want to keep those glorious sword-like leaves thick and healthy while preventing root damage.
It's important to manually check that the soil is dry, since overwatering can encourage a variety of fungal diseases that could kill the plant.
To do this, every couple of days, push your finger in the soil down to the second knuckle. If the top 3-4 inches (8-10cm) of soil is dry, then it’s time to water.
On average, aloe vera plants will need to be watered once a week.
How Often To Water Aloe In Winter
Aloe goes into a sort of hibernating state in the cold season, when it is not actively growing.
In the fall and especially winter, the plant needs very little water. Give it a drink about half the time you did in the growing months.
Make sure the plant is never sitting in a saucer of water, no matter what time of year.
How To Water Aloe Vera
Aloe vera should be watered deeply, and the moisture should be allowed to drain through before it is returned to its outer pot or water tray.
Watering an aloe deeply also allows any salt build-up to leach from the soil. Succulents can be sensitive to the minerals and chemicals in municipal water supplies. If your aloe seems peaky, use filtered or distilled water when irrigating.
Add a diluted liquid fertilizer once per month to the water, but only during the growing season.
Do You Water Aloe Vera From Top Or Bottom?
There is some debate as to whether aloe vera should be watered from the top or bottom, but if done correctly either method is fine.
The school of thought on watering from the bottom is that this will only moisten the roots where the water needs to go. This may keep the rest of the soil from being too wet.
However, if you water from the top and avoid getting the leaves wet then you don’t need to worry.
Planting succulents in unglazed clay pots will also allow excess moisture to evaporate more easily than a ceramic or other glazed container.
Tips To Avoid Overwatering
- Perfect watering techniques start with a well-draining medium. A succulent mixture works best, or cactus soil with some regular soil mixed into it.
- Make sure the drainage holes in any container are open and plentiful. You may also want to place small gravel or pebbles in the bottom 2 inches (5cm) of the container, especially if the pot is tall.
- In most homes, central heating will help dry the air, but in older homes it can be quite moist inside. A humid home will transfer moisture to the plant, meaning you don’t have to water as frequently as a dryer home.
- The time of year is another factor. Spring and summer will see you watering much more frequently than winter.
- Outdoor plants may need more frequent irrigation than indoor aloes, since direct sun exposure and wind will dry the soil quickly.
Overwatered Aloe Vera Plant Care
If your aloe vera plant has been overwatered, remove it from the soggy soil and let it dry out for a day or two. Check the roots for signs of rot and cut off any discolored or mushy parts.
The roots also need to be checked for any signs of fungal disease and trimmed if any is discovered.
Aloe vera are practically foolproof plants that can survive most errors in irrigation. So you should be able to save your aloe vera plant if you replant it in good, dry succulent soil. Do not water your newly planted aloe for a week.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if my aloe plant needs water?
When in doubt, purchase a soil meter. These are very easy to use and modern devices will allow you to program in the type of plant for an accurate reading.
The plant will also give visual cues if it is water starved. The smooth, gently serrated skin on the leaves will pucker and wrinkle. In severe cases, the leaves will dry and fall off.
Keep a good watch on the plant and try to never let it get that stressed. Stressed plants are prey to many insects and diseases that they might withstand if their care has been consistent and proper.
What does an overwatered aloe plant look like?
Overwatering is a common cause of aloe decline. The first signs are leaf discoloration, yellowing and browning. Blistered cells in the leaves are a sign of edema where too much water has been absorbed. The leaves may feel squishy or even pull right away from the plant.
A droopy aloe plant, mold in the soil and any softening of the stems also indicate too much moisture.
If you get your nose in by the crown you may smell an off odor.
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Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.
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