I know my posts can get lengthy, so hopefully this shorter version will be less of a wall of text and more helpful. If you want to read the longer version go here – https://aloehoarder.wordpress.com/2020/08/19/my-basics-for-aloe-care/
Btw, I also have a book available on Kindle (free to read with Unlimited), here – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08R2BPH1K/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_awdb_t1_w9AcGbBTB3ZK6
Remember this is kind of a loose guideline. Not all Aloes need the same care, some need much more sun, some are summer dormant (vera ISN’T), some need large pots and cool weather (polyphylla- Spiral Aloe)…etc. Don’t lump all Aloes together…learn which one you have and the specific care it needs. The San Marcos Growers website has good plant files, as well as the Agaveville forums. You can also join genus-specific plant groups on FB.
1. Fast draining soil. A soil mix that doesn’t hold water is important for healthy root growth (and a healthy plant.) You don’t have to use a super gritty mix like I do (unless you also live in a swamp!) There are a lot of options for grit to add to your bagged soil – perlite, pumice, chicken grit, turface, expanded shale, bonsai jack..etc. Pick what you can find and make it 25-50% of your mix, more if the plant is out in the frequent rain or you are an overwaterer. Using two types of grit that are different sizes is good…perlite and pumice, chicken grit and expanded shale…helps the mix not compact. Aloes like a good drench and then to dry out…quickly! Some people in some climates can get away with not using anything special, but my plants struggled until I changed up my soil mix.
2. Sun. Indirect light is not enough. They need direct sun…doesn’t have to be all day, scorching, full sun…but at least some direct sun every day. If you grow inside, look into getting a good grow light. Most Aloes can take full sun in most places, my veras here in TX do fine in it. Where people go wrong is acclimation, and not understanding the difference between a stress reaction and sunburn. Brown = PANIC, right? If it’s like a brown tan, DON’T PANIC (👍)…that’s just a temporary stress reaction to a change in the environment (more sun, less water, temp changes, etc. Not just sun!) Once the plant adjusts it’ll go back to green and grow stronger. Clear-ish brown or brown spots are different..and I have a post on that as well. Sunburn bleaches the color and causes permanent damage. Pale plants with thin, droopy leaves and weak or long & twisted stems are not getting enough light. Aloe vera is a stemless Aloe, it will not grow a long stem unless it isn’t getting enough light. The key is to s l o w l y move them to more sun…they don’t hate sun, but they can react badly to sudden change. Especially if their growth is weakened from poor light and poor drainage, or they are young.
3. Water. A well draining soil mix is as important as how much you water. Your watering schedule (and soil mix) are going to differ from everyone else’s depending on environment…there really isn’t only one right way (except to ignore anyone that says Aloes hate sun and water.) Don’t go based on a schedule (especially someone else’s), learn what a thirsty plant looks like, and it’s better for them to get too little water than to get too much (or not have good drainage.) It’s easier to rehab a thirsty plant than it is a rotten one. They like to be watered well but infrequently (how often depends on environment) and dry out quickly. Do not mist or give little sips. Overwatering is watering too often, not how much water it gets at a time. When the leaves start to thin and curl the plant is thirsty (or having root issues.) It might also be a bit brown or gray from stress. A terra cotta pot will help with drainage, but if the plant is outdoors and you are in a hot climate and using a gritty soil mix you are going to need to water more frequently. Bottom watering works well for small plants.
Young vera from the store adjusting to my growing conditions.