Aloe Vera Plant Care: Advice for Winter

Aloe vera is an extremely useful medicinal plant and helful to have around the house. Fortunately, they are also compact and attractive plants that adapt well to container growing. Aloe Vera is easy to raise, requires relatively little care and provides pretty foliage year round.

During the spring and summer months, Aloe can grow outside in most areas. In warmer climates, such as Florida, Aloe can be planted outside for year-round growing, provided that the planting area is free of frost. USDA zones 10 and 11 are recommended, but Aloes can be grown outdoors in USDA zone 9 provided they are protected. They do particularly well in enclosed courtyards. Gardeners who plant Aloe outside in mild climates should be prepared to cover the plants to protect them from frost when cold weather hits. Frost protection is vital because the Aloe is mostly water by weight and can be very prone to cold shock and frost damage. Northern gardeners or gardeners who live in climates colder than zone 9 should not attempt year round outdoor Aloe plantings.

During the fall and winter months, Aloe Vera plants that have enjoyed the bright summer sunshine should be kept in a relatively bright room. South facing windows are best, but growers should not be tempted to place the plant in the window. Instead choose a well lit end table that sits away from windows and other outdoor draughts in order to keep the plant safe from cold shock. Indoor Aloe Vera plants should notice little or no difference in light levels and will be happy as long as their available light does not decrease. Indoor plants should also be kept away from windows during the winter to prevent cold damage.The trick with raising a healthy Aloe is to strike a balance between too much water and not enough. This is true with any plant, but it can be particularly tricky with succulents. Aloe Vera goes dormant during the winter, so growth slows and water needs decrease. Over-watering causes Aloe plants to fail at any time of year, but in the winter growers will find it a lot easier to over-water. Do not use self-watering pots for Aloe Vera and do not allow a lot of water to sit in detached catch pots. As with many other succulent plants, soil should go dry between waterings. Root rot and cold shock are very common problems in the winter.

Healthy Aloe Vera plants have firm, gel-filled leaves. An Aloe suffering from root rot or cold shock has softened, drooping leaves. They tend to become more yellow in color. Plants suffering from root rot will lose lower leaves first and the younger growth core of the plant will go last. Plants suffering from cold shock will lose the leaves closest to the cold source first. Under-watering can cause the leaves to shrink in thickness and become harder. These begin to brown at the ends. Later, as the leaf begins to thin more, the brown will creep down the entire length of the leaf.

An Aloe Vera has relatively little need for fertilizer and no need for it in the winter. Aloes usually need fertilizer once per year during the spring. A sick Aloe may require a little bit of fertilizer to come back from illness. Growers should be aware that fertilizing a dormant plant may cause burn and shock. The best thing to do with an over-watered or cold damaged Aloe in the winter is to fix the problem. Cold damaged plants should be removed from any draughts. Plants with root rot need the amount of time lengthened between waterings. Adequate light should be available to the plant during the day. Southern exposures provide the best light, but if home layouts and terrain do not permit good light from a southern exposure, other well lit rooms will work.

Raising Aloe Vera plants can be very rewarding. Dormant winter Aloes require a little protection, but they demand less care. The warm springtime green they provide to their indoor winter homes is well worth the trouble.

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Comments

  1. mhel says

    sound good i want to plant aloe vera in england but i dnt know where we can get a good variety of aloe vera to supply it to me do you know somewhere to get more aloe vera palnt to plant in my land about 0.44 ache many thanks mhel

  2. says

    will the plant still live during sickness of the plant. I cut of the ends of the brown part of the leaves this is how it looks.(sorry the image might not pop up at alll)(its short,wide,green at the bottom of the stem and brownesh at the top,All is firm)What should I do?

    • Cynthia Wichman says

      Good natural bright light from a sunny window or florescent light is good for indoor plants.

  3. lynn says

    I am new to Northern California and inherited two beautiful, large aloe plants that had been kept outside, near the entrance to a home, so I kept them outside also. I didn’t know about the frost danger or “cold shock” and now one of them is quite damaged. I cut off the badly “burned,” brown parts (as I would other houseplants) but it continues to dry and curl up. Is there any particular treatments I can apply? The other one, which had been placed elsewhere, did not “burn” but it now has a brownish hue overall instead of the beautiful green. What could be wrong and what can I do better?

    Thank you for any and all help.

  4. Kimberly Brubaker says

    My aloe plants leaves have turned clear, whats wrong with it and can i fix it or must a buy a new one now

  5. Ashley H says

    I got an aloe plant last summer as a gift. I left it in the sun most all summer and it grew like a weed, it was crazy. So I live in Nebraska and had to take it inside for the winter. Winter lasted too long and it started getting way sad! My house does not have an adequate space for it to get enough sun either. All of the leaves have turned brown and are still pretty hard, not soft. I have tried repotting it and exposing it to more sun but it does not seem to be getting better. The little green that was left is almost gone. Is it time to give up? I love this plant but it just seems past the point of no return.

  6. Victoria says

    So. I live in a dorm. One window and it’s getting colder each day. I forgot to water it this past Friday and went to water it and saw a saggy jelly brown leaf and one fell a little limp. I don’t gunk my roommate is watering it too. She shouldn’t be. But we don’t get any sun light in the room and the only way to give it sun light is putting it in the cold window. What should I do? I think it’s suffering from cold shock. I really want to take care of it cuz my supervisor gave it to me. Ps I’ve never raised a plant before.

  7. christie says

    I have a aloe poant love it..live in a basement not a lot of light.so two ??s.one my leaves are coming off at the core brown and drained, what’s the cause.Second with these leave is there a way to extract and store the aloe from the leaves….plz help

  8. shemyn warren says

    I have a large aloe plant that I covered during a freeze. The leaves on the outer most of the plant froze and are dead but the inside leaves and leaves under the top frozen part are still alive. What should I do for it? If I pull all the dead parts out I am afraid it will damage the good sections. Thanks for any advise

    Shemyn

    • We Love Aloe says

      I would take the plant inside if possible, and then let the plant heal a bit before deciding what to cut off. In a month, you should be able to tell the dead plant from the live without harming it. Best!

  9. Tammy says

    I have an aloe plant thst is so large I tjink it has several mother plants in one pot. I am wanting to remove some of the latger ones is this possible? I need to trim it down or go to a bigger pot and that is not possible with the area I have to keep it in. I can send a picture if need be.

    • Danielle Brown says

      Hi Tammy,

      Yes, you can separate the mother plant from its “pups,” as its offshoots are called. Check out the article “How to Propagate your Aloe Vera Plant” for instructions on how to remove some of your aloe’s bulbs. Let us know how it goes!

  10. says

    Hello just wanted to give you a quick heads up.
    The text in your article seem to be running off the screen in Chrome.

    I’m not sure if this is a formatting issue or
    something to do with browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to let you know.
    The design and style look great though! Hope you get the issue fixed soon.
    Many thanks

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