Let’s get one thing straight: aloes are definitely not the vampires of the plant world. While some plants are hypersensitive to light, favoring dark, shaded places, the aloe prefers to soak up that sun! The more direct the sunlight, the better. Just like other succulents, aloes are used to the severe growing conditions of Africa, particularly the bright light they receive there. So, when you are jumping from room to room in your house trying to find the perfect place for your domesticated aloe plant, keep your eye on the lighting situation. Get the aloe lighting right and your plant will feel at home. Not only will it be happy and healthy, but it might even flower for you (gasp!).
Aloe Lighting: How Much Light?
You may have thought you had it all figured out: find out whether aloes need light or shade, and then raising your plant would be smooth sailing. But I bet you didn’t realize just how many variations of light there are. Artificial light. Direct sunlight. Indirect sunlight. Partial shade. Shade. The choices are many! So, which one is it? How much light do aloes need?
The correct answer: lots of it! Because aloes do best when hit with tons of sun throughout the day, you want your aloe to be in a spot where it will receive direct sunlight.
Where is the Best Spot for Your Aloe?
Where can your aloe get a heavy dose of the sun’s direct rays? As an open, accessible area, windowsills make for prime locations! Sit your aloe in a window that faces west or east, and it will receive the direct sunlight it needs to grow, thrive, and flower. Not a fan of putting you aloe on a windowsill? Just make sure it ends up no more than 5 feet from a window. Any further and your aloe just won’t get that sunlight it needs.
A cool tip: remember that your potted plant is not rooted in place. You can move it to different areas in your house throughout the day depending on where the sun strikes.
Ah! Too Much or Too Little Light!
Often times, you won’t get the aloe lighting situation perfect right away. So, here is how you can tell whether you have over- or under-shot:
Too much light: Sunburnt! You aloe plant will actually appear sunburnt! Yes, aloe can indeed get too much sun! Turning wrinkly and developing brown spots, aloe leaves will start to show signs of poor health when they get too much light.
Too little light: Notice that aloe leaves usually grow up and out, as if reaching straight up for the sun in the sky. When they are not getting enough light, however, they tend to grow down or outwards as opposed to upwards. Take note of the direction your aloe’s leaves are growing to find out whether or not it has enough sun.
When to Bring Out the Big Guns: Artificial Aloe Light
For the most part, direct sunlight is the route you want to go. But there are two main occasions when you may need to supplement that natural light with artificial:
- in the winter
Daylight hours become shorter during the winter months, so you may want to treat your aloe to some artificial light in addition to natural light during the winter to make sure it gets enough. You will also not want your aloe right up against the cold window glass in the wintertime, since it is vulnerable to frost, so bringing in some artificial light can serve a lot of different purposes when temperatures drop. Do keep in mind, however, that aloes become pretty dormant during the winter, so your plant will not even need as much sunlight as it normally would.
- on a cloudy or overcast day
When the sun is blocked by a sheet of clouds, you cannot rely on it to provide your aloe with enough light. Artificial lighting can be an easy fix to your light shortage.