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Myth – Aloes Don’t Like Direct Sun

I have seen some version of “Aloes don’t like direct sun” in every plant group on FB (or plant forum, subreddit, whatever)…even in some of the Aloe groups now.

It’s absolutely not true that they don’t like direct sun..this is a myth perpetuated by the popularity of Aloe vera as a houseplant, and those indoor growers either moving their plants too quickly into direct sun or misunderstanding stress colors. And then deciding if their Aloe vera (which is just one species) “hates” sun or “prefer indirect light”, all Aloes do too.

My big maculata hybrid…gets full sun, stays green all summer. Turns a little brown or red with cooler weather. Blooms a few times a year.

Not all Aloes need the same care…some are summer dormant, many are full sun plants (full sun is at least 6-8 hours of direct sun, and direct sun is unfiltered outdoor light, not light through a window), some are more tolerant of water, some dislike high heat..etc. But they all need at least some direct sun to grow well. What Aloe vera looks like when grown indoors (droopy, thin, pale, with weak stems) has become what a lot of people consider normal growth now, when it isn’t. They should have thick, mostly upright leaves and short stems that are strong enough to hold the plant up. They may turn a little brown as they adjust to more sun, but this isn’t sunburn or a sign the plant is unhappy..move it slowly, let the plant adjust, make sure it gets enough water, and it will turn green again. It’s just a temporary reaction to change (and not always sun related!) Aloe vera tends to want more water when it’s hot and sunny, another mistake people make is thinking they hate water. They hate poor drainage. People unfamiliar with Aloes as anything but the pale green, droopy indoor plant will see a thirsty plant and call it sunburned.

Google Aloe vera farms and see how they grow them for gel…no shade in sight!

A. vera and vera var. chinensis enjoying some sun
Blooming after the 2021 winter storm. Brown leaves are from cooler temps and less water in the winter. But they survived a temp drop into the 20s (F) when the heater went out in the greenhouse. Only one lost its bloomstalk and suffered any significant damage.
Some big vera plants, recovered well from minor freeze damage and enjoying the warmer weather.
~6 year old vera plant. Lots of sun = big, happy Aloe. Indirect light = sad, droopy plant that houseplant people think is thriving.
Yep, this thing is just *so* unhappy getting direct sun all day.
Sunny yard, happy plants!
The pale patches are sunburn. The brown is a stress color. And sunburn still does not mean they don’t like direct sun…it just means I moved it out of the greenhouse into the yard too quickly without acclimating it slowly enough.
Again…pale patches are sunburn, brown is a stress color (it already had this leftover from winter.) Moved it too quickly into the yard from the greenhouse.
This is a thirsty plant, not sunburned at all. Just very stressed, but still easily salvageable. (May 12 2022)
Same plant as above, May 23 2022. Same amount of sun, just needed a couple good drenches!
August 2022…still getting lots of sun. Finally also getting lots of rain.
September 2022, fat and happy with lots of direct sun.

Published by AloeHoarder

I live in Houston, Texas and have been interested in and collecting Aloe plants since 2008, my first Aloe was the “chinensis” variety that I got from my mom in 2006. I am autistic and an English major. Aloes are my “special interest”.

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