Aloe plants are succulents which are mostly considered drought tolerant plants. However, they do need water, just like any other plant, but what are aloe water needs? Aloe succulents are healthier and have the best appearance when they are kept lightly moist. If that is a confusing recommendation, keep reading for tips on how to water an aloe.
Signs of Excessive or Inadequate Aloe Watering
Excessive aloe plant watering can cause it to rot, often killing these beautiful and useful succulents. Watering an aloe can be tricky because they will suffer with too much water but can shrivel and die with too little. In the absence of a moisture meter, doling out the proper amount can be difficult. In order to keep those glorious sword-like leaves thick and healthy while preventing root damage, a hands-on approach is warranted. Perfect watering techniques start with a well-draining medium. A purchased succulent mixture works great or cactus soil with some regular soil mixed into it is also adequate. 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 (5 cm.) of the container, especially if the pot is tall. An aloe that is getting too much water may wilt and become darkened. Blistered cells in the leaves are a sign of edema where too much water has been absorbed. Mold in the soil and any softening of the stems also indicate too much moisture. Overly dry plant leaves will wither and pucker. These plants store water in their leaves and too little moisture causes this symptom. Some yellowing may also occur and indicate it is time to water.
Aloe Water Needs
Aloe vera irrigation should be regular enough to prevent shriveling and encourage growth but not so frequent you drown the plant. In the growing season, generally spring and summer into early fall, these succulents need to be kept moderately moist. However, in winter the watering schedule should be halved. Aloes can withstand periods of drought if established but young plants need more frequent irrigation to help them establish root systems and can be severely damaged by overly dry conditions. On average, watering an aloe once per week is enough, but if plants are exposed to extreme sunlight and heat, a touch test is necessary. This is the easiest way to tell if the soil is too dry. Simply insert your finger into the soil up to the second knuckle. If it is dry, water the plant. If it is still moist, wait a few days. Also, check the irrigation holes to see if the soil is mush and retaining too much moisture.
How to Water an Aloe
Aloe vera irrigation should be deep and infrequent. Watering an aloe deeply also allows any built up salts 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. If your plant has been overwatered, pull it from the soil and lay it out to dry. The roots need to be checked for any signs of fungal disease and trimmed if any is discovered. Replant in fresh dry soil in a few days and do not water for a week. These are practically foolproof plants that can survive most errors in irrigation.
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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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