Aloe Vera Indoors

Plants are a great way to decorate a small apartment or dorm. However, most people have a hard time keeping them alive.

A lot of college students have made the mistake of bringing home a succulent and thinking that it is a plant that they can forget about. This is caused by succulents preferring drier climates than other types of houseplants. The problem most common with this mindset is that this can lead to the neglect of the other needs of the plant.

Succulents need specific temperature, potting and lighting conditions to grow to their full potential. This level of care is often neglected when the ‘bring it home and forget about it’ mindset is implemented. I have killed many plants this way but when I finally abandoned the idea that I can neglect my plants and did my research I found that keeping a plant alive is easier than expected if you know what you’re looking for.

I suggest getting a plant that is more useful than decorative because keeping it alive leads to a physical reward. This helps you to remember that you have a plant. I have had success with two types of plants so far, Aloe Vera and tomatoes.

Tomatoes are very hard to grow inside of an apartment because they need at least eight hours of direct sunlight, and heavy watering. However, I have grown some that have grown to be six feet tall.  I have found that Aloe Vera plants thrive inside of an apartment here in the Texas heat.

Before purchasing an aloe plant here’s what you need to know. Aloe Vera prefers a well-draining pot with well-draining soil. They also like temperatures between 55 ⁰F and 80 ⁰F so often room temperature for an apartment in Texas. Finally, aloe plants prefer bright indirect sunlight for a majority of the day. I have mine sitting in the west most window of my apartment so that it gets the bright afternoon sun.

When placing an aloe, I have found that you want to find a place where the plant can get plenty of sunlight but does not start to turn yellow and get sun-burnt. If your plant starts to yellow move it to a shady place where it still gets a lot of bright light but not direct light.

When selecting a pot, I would suggest a terracotta pot with at least one drainage hole because they allow the soil to dry better than plastic and can be painted or decorated to fit the aesthetic of the room. Aloe vera plants also have heavier leaves because of the gel stored inside of them. Terracotta is a heftier pot and while it can break if dropped it is less likely to tip over from the weight of the plant.

When selecting the pot, what you want to do is find a pot with around a half to a full inch of space from the outer edge of the very base of the leaves to the inner edge of the pot. The leaves of the plant should stretch out over the edge of the pot and the plant shouldn’t look dwarfed by the pot but should have room to grow. If your plant has a stem, then the pot should be deep enough to cover the entire stem. I would also suggest a well-draining soil mix consisting of pearlite, lava rock or coarse sand. You will also need a small piece of mesh wire to place in the bottom of the pot to prevent the soil from falling out of the drainage hole.

After you have selected your pot, plant and other supplies and are ready to pot the plant, start by placing the mesh in the bottom of the pot. Next, lay down a small layer of fresh soil mix in the pot just enough to when you place the plant in the pot the base of the leaves are even with the top of the pot. Then, gently shake the old soil mixture out of the roots as best as possible without damaging the roots. Finally, put the plant in the pot and gently fill the pot and the gaps in the roots with the fresh soil. The re-potting process is pretty stressful on the plant, so I have found that it is best to wait at least one week before watering the plant.

Aloe vera plants are a beautiful succulent that produces a clear or light green gel in its leaves that can be used to soothe burns and cuts. The gel is most commonly sold as sunburn gel, but modern women have found many usages for the gel such as using it as a skin care or hair care product.