Let the Sun Shine! How Much Light Does My Aloe Really Need?

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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.

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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.

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  1. says

    I have a 22 year old aloe plant that I’ve been looking after for about 4 years, and I find that it does best with partial sunlight. It is in a western facing window, albeit a small one, that only gets direct sun for 2-3 hours in the morning, and it has been thriving since I got it! I live in Vancouver where it’s often cloudy for days, and the plant never seems to mind. In fact, I need to split it’s offshoots into new pots before they all get rootlock, it’s growing so quickly.
    But I, as this article recommends, was putting it in direct sunlight all day over the summer (We get long stretches of hot sun and nothing but) and it didn’t enjoy it at all, actually started wilting into it got to it’s current relatively shady home.
    So I basically have a contrary opinion on how much sunlight it needs.

    • Cameron says

      I agree with Shawn. I am finding the same with my aloe vera plants. They seem to get burnt if i put them in the backyard with all my other plants but do very well indeed on my door step, just inside the door or when I put them in a spot where they get shade during the middle of the day.

    • jacob khan says

      I agree with you. I belong to tropical location in pakistan panjab, I too keep the aloe in a shady place, and it is well thriving.

    • Lina Curry says

      My aloe plant leaves are thin almost flat and drooping over the edge of my pot what is causing this please help.

      • kelly says

        If your aloe leaves are drooping and flat, that usually means not enough light and probably too much water. Especially if the leaves are brown but not dry, that’s too much water and not enough sun. If the leaves dry up, that’s not enough water of course, and/or not enough room in the pot for the water you do give it (to be shared with the entire plant).

    • Carrie J Byrnes says

      I agree, I killed an aloe with too much sun and that was an indoor plant in an apartment with not a lot of light. I’m beginning to think the tons of sun for an aloe is a myth. I have one now in my kitchen with indirect light, not close to any windows though we have a lot of natural light. It seems very happy and I like it in the kitchen for burns.

    • Julian says

      It said east and west windows because it would get the most direct sunlight from either the morning, when the sun rises in the east, or afternoon, when the sun sets. Altgough, according to other comments, it should be done because many thrived in indirect sunlight. This may be due to different strains and varieties though.

  2. Trtzesowski says

    I confirm your opinions. My aloe enjoyed our Wintergarden with moderate light but when repotted to very sunny italian terrain it almost died, got brown and grey. It loooked that it would not survive. So I took it to a partly sunny place in garden and it recovered.

    • MSMissyB says

      Thank you! I was wondering if I should put mine in a sunny spot because I got it a few days ago, and I was not sure where to put it!

  3. Kelsey says

    I had my aloe plant in too little light. I can tell because the leaves are droopy and do not stand up. So then I transferred it to a high light place and slightly burnt the leaves. It looks terrible! I hope it recovers. I now have it in a partial sun area, but it looks so pathetic!

  4. William says

    I have a fairly new Aloe, but the leaves have developed some yellow spots and don’t feel quite as firm as they did before, lil droopy too. Any suggestions? I just haven’t moved it and it was healthy before so idk whats wrong

    • Onnie says

      It might have something to do with it’s roots. It may have a fungus. Try using a gallon of water with 2 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide 3% mixed in it. Use that to water it. It should kill the fungus, and it’s great to use on over watered plants because of it’s chemical make up with water. You’ll see an amazing difference in all your plants! They’re so happy!

  5. Susan says

    My aloe Vera has black spots on some of the leaves. The spots look like burns that are sunken in. How much water do these plants require? Thank you for your help.

  6. Errum says

    I have put my aloe vera in maximum sunlight after reading this .
    I’ve a question , I’ve grown it into a small pot ?
    Will it grow ?

  7. JB says

    So it’s pretty unanimous from the comments that this article like so many things on the internet is hastily written, poorly researched and wrong. Sounded good, they bought a domain name to make some money and just made up some stuff.

    Not all of Africa is open direct sunlight, not all aloe species are native to Africa, and few people are growing their plants with the optimum soil conditions.

    So if you follow the advice that your plant wants loads of direct sun (just like in Africa!) , it is probably going to die.

  8. Dorothy says

    I received a large aloe plant for Mother’s Day. I live in Las Vegas. Can I keep it on my patio that gets sun?

    • MSMissyB says

      Many of the comments say you should stick with partial sunlight. If you’re patio doesn’t stay sunny all the time, you will probably be fine.

  9. Tony says

    A friend gave me first aloe plant in the winter, she left it on a west facing windowsill so I haven’t moved it, all the leaves are standing straight up and they are very green and firm, so I think this article is right on, my plant is very happy where it is.

  10. says

    That makes sense to use artificial light during the winter. The days do get shorter. Not only that, but if you live in a temperate region like me you get a lot of cloud cover, too.

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