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Aloe Vera Plant Care: Easy Tips To Grow & Harvest Your Aloe

April 29, 2020 — 1:12 AM By Kirsten Nunez, M.S.

So, you’ve just bought a new aloe vera plant—congratulations! You’re the proud new parent of a versatile, medicinal plant that’s been used and admired for thousands of years. Furthermore, this tropical succulent is easy to care for—as long as you know the basics. To get you started, we spoke to plant expert Nick Cutsumpas about the best practices for aloe vera plant care.

Growing aloe indoors.

If this is your first aloe, you’ll be glad to know that it “is one of the most self-sufficient plants to grow indoors,” says Cutsumpas. It comes down to creating the right conditions for your beloved succulent:

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Tools you need

You’ll need the following supplies:

  • Aloe plant: You can find aloe plants at nurseries, floral shops, and hardware stores.
  • Pot with drainage holes: “Although it’s possible to grow healthy plants in pots without drainage holes, the aloe will appreciate as much drainage as you can provide,” notes Cutsumpas.
  • Plant saucer: This is a shallow dish that’s placed under a pot, which will protect your interior surfaces from water.
  • Succulent soil mix: For an aloe plant, a loose succulent mix works best.
  • Lava rocks: Lava rocks help drain water, so they’re usually added to the bottom of pots without holes. Yet, “even with pots with drainage holes, I still add a 1- to 2-inch-layer of porous lava rocks to the bottom to prevent water from building up around the roots,” says Cutsumpas.


Put your aloe in a bright, sunny spot. Keep it out of excess direct sunlight, which can dry it out too much. (Kind of ironic for a plant that soothes sunburns, right?) “I keep mine a few feet away from south-facing window to avoid [this],” shares Cutsumpas.

You’ll also want to give the plant a good soak every two to three weeks (i.e., water deeply but sparingly). The exact frequency will change with the seasons; you’ll need to water less frequently in the winter. Regardless, allow “the water to completely drain from the pot and [ensure] that the soil dries out completely before the next watering,” says Cutsumpas. This is key for preventing root rot, which is extra-harmful for moisture-sensitive plants like aloe.

Growing aloe outdoors.

Caring for aloe outdoors is a bit more complex. Usually, it’s only recommended if you live in a certain climate—here’s what you should keep in mind:

Tools you need

Outdoors, a potted aloe plant essentially requires the same tools as an indoor plant: pot with drainage holes, plant saucer, succulent soil mix, and lava rocks. But if you live in a warm and dry climate year-round—and you have a yard with rocky or sandy soil—you can plant the aloe in the ground.


Before moving your aloe outside, consider where you live. Aloe plants are highly sensitive to the cold. According to The Farmer’s Almanac, it prefers temperatures between 55 and 80°F.

Specifically, it thrives outside year-round in Zones 8 to 11. (To determine what zone you live in, check out the USDA Plant Hardiness Map.) If you don’t live in an aloe-friendly area, “you can bring your aloe outside in the summer months to enjoy the heat,” says Cutsumpas. “However, if your environment is rainy, your aloe may get too much water if you’re not diligent about bringing it inside before storms,” he adds. Similarly, you’ll need to bring it inside on cooler summer nights. This back-and-forth can be risky, so keeping your aloe inside is generally the best choice.

If you must move your aloe plant outside, avoid immediately placing it in direct light. Slowly move it closer to avoid stressing it out.

The do’s and don’ts of aloe plant care.

Follow these tips to keep your aloe healthy and well:

Do: Keep in the sun.

Aloe craves bright, indirect sunlight. You can tell your plant isn’t getting enough light if it’s “leggy” (tall and wiry) instead of lush and full, says Cutsumpas. This is a sign that your aloe is searching for more light, causing it to lose its strong foundation. To fix this, Cutsumpas recommends moving it closer to the window, changing locations, or using a grow light during the winter.

On the other hand, if your plant is overexposed, it might develop dryness and brown spots on the leaves, explains Cutsumpas. “This can also be due to extreme heat if the plant is too close to a hot window, so pull the plant back a few feet and monitor your watering schedule carefully to ensure it is getting enough H2O,” he says.

Don’t: Overwater.

While it might be tempting to shower your aloe with love, try your best to avoid overwatering it. “Aloe are low-maintenance succulents, and they thrive without much attention,” notes Cutsumpas. “So, take a deep breath, trust the plant process, and let your plants do their thing.”

If your aloe is overwatered, it will develop droopy, mushy-looking leaves. This can also happen if it’s in the wrong soil, which brings us to our next point…

Do: Use the right soil.

Soil can retain or drain water, so it’s important to use the right kind. Aloe plants need well-draining soil in order to avoid root rot and wilting. A loose succulent potting mix—made of perlite, sand, or lava rock (or all three)—is typically recommended.

How to harvest your aloe.

To harvest aloe, cut the thickest leaf at the base the plant. Next, “cut that leaf into two or three equal pieces,” explain Cutsumpas, then “let it soak in water for 10 to 20 minutes before filleting the pieces and scraping out the meat inside.” From there, you use it topically—just be sure to follow the best practices for aloe vera gel storage.

If you’d like to eat the gel, you’ll have to take some extra precautions. “Consuming aloe without harvesting it properly can cause some nausea and digestive issues, due to the latex coating underneath the skin called aloin. “The chances of this will increase if your aloe is not thick and ripe with the nutritious gel, so be careful before you decide to eat it,” warns Cutsumpas.

To avoid releasing the aloin, avoid squeezing out the gel with your hands. Instead, use a spoon to carefully scrape it out.

The take-away.

Under the right conditions, your aloe may sprout little babies around the mother plant. “Once these reach 3 to 4 inches in height, use a sharp knife to cut at the bottom of the root, then place them in soil or water to grow new roots of their own,” says Cutsumpas. In the meantime, give your aloe plant lots of light and minimal water to help it survive—and thrive.

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Kirsten Nunez, M.S.
Kirsten Nunez, M.S.Contributing writer

Kirsten Nunez is a health and lifestyle journalist based in Beacon, New York. She has a Master of Science in Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University and Bachelor of Science in Dietetics…

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‘We’re binge-eating chips not quinoa’: How in fluencers have pivoted in generation lockdown


Lucy Handley

A young woman filming content for social media posts

HRAUN | Getty Images

What’s the future for influencers who are used to filling their social media feeds with images of their luxury trips, shopping hauls or new cars when they are now staying at home under lockdown?

“The premise that influencer marketing is largely based on — aspiration — is now fundamentally flawed. No one can aspire to a perfect life anymore. There are no more yoga or spin classes after the school run, no more matcha lattes, Botox appointments are on hold, and whole families are living in close, often messy, quarters. We’re binge-eating chips not quinoa,” stated Sarah Baumann, managing director of marketing agency VaynerMedia in London, in an email to CNBC.

Influencers earn money from brands for posting sponsored content. A “micro” influencer, with around 10,000 followers can make $250 per post, with figures going up to about $250,000 for someone with more than a million. That’s according to a report by cybersecurity company Cheq that was published pre-pandemic.

For some, influencers’ “aspirational” content has been a step too far during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Ricky Gervais, creator of “The Office,” highlighted the gap between medics’ lives and some celebrities in an interview. “These people are doing 14-hour shifts and not complaining. Wearing masks, and being left with sores, after risking their own health and their families’ health selflessly. But then I see someone complaining about being in a mansion with a swimming pool. And, you know, honestly, I just don’t want to hear it,” he told U.K. publication The Sun last week.

“There have been some instances of people basically being really stupid and not realizing that they are in the limelight. That being said, I think … there’s a lot of influencers who have actually risen up to the occasion,” according to Rahul Titus, head of influence at ad agency Ogvily. Titus cited Finland, where the government has classified influencers as essential “critical operators,” during the crisis, along with medical workers and bus drivers.

″(It) sounds hilarious, but it makes perfect sense … These are people who’ve got direct access to a community of fans instantly. And if you want to get a message out, especially with a younger generation, actually influencers are the right way to get there,” Titus told CNBC by phone.

The World Health Organization is using influencers to source donations to its Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund. It is even working with digital avatar Knox Frost, who posted details of how to give money to the WHO to his 1 million Instagram followers earlier this month.

Baumann praised other influencers for their positive actions, including Joe Wicks, a fitness instructor who is posting daily workouts for schoolchildren on YouTube, and author David Walliams who released the copyright for his kids’ books so teachers can use them in home-schooling videos.

Charity content

Bonnie Rakhit, a former fashion magazine editor who now runs fashion blog The Style Traveller, has encouraged her Instagram followers to become community volunteers via non-profit the British Red Cross and to “Clap for our Carers,” where people in the U.K. cheer medics from their homes each week.

And while she usually promotes fashion labels and reviews luxury hotels, Rakit is now being approached by businesses in sectors such as beauty, kitchen appliances and home furnishings. Rakhit’s advice on how to get posts right at this time? “There are some really serious issues out there right now, lots of uncertainty and people are scared. There’s no need to add to the negativity. It’s important to keep a positive or educational narrative … It’s not a time to brag or be ostentatious — instead spread messages of hope, love and kindness,” she said in an email to CNBC.

Some brands are just switching the message they put out through sponsored posts. Among nutritionist Madeleine Shaw’s Instagram pictures of homemade vegan stews and hot cross buns are posts sponsored by U.K. drugstore chain Boots, with Shaw giving advice on indoor exercises and daily planning. “A lot of the content that (influencers) are producing right now, it’s not about selling products, it’s about helping the community … be sane and be OK,” Titus at Ogilvy said.

Influencers are also working out whether to post about the coronavirus overtly. “It’s really important to not be seen as ‘jumping on’ to what is a sensitive topic for commercial or popularity gain,” according to Sarah Penny, head of content at data platform Influencer Intelligence, in an email to CNBC.

Companies aren’t currently measuring the success of sponsored posts by how many products they sell and instead are looking at whether people who see those posts are simply aware of those brands, according to Penny.

Post-pandemic, we can expect influencers to show off a little less, according to Angela Seits, a senior director of consumer insights and engagement strategy at agency PMG. “Some of the celebrity backlash that we saw … will also translate to influencer campaigns … where there is a little bit less of an audience interest in some of that high profile aspirational type of content,” she told CNBC by phone.

Conor Begley, co-founder and president of influencer measurement company Tribe Dynamics, has been tracking how its database of around 50,000 U.S. celebrities and influencers have been using social media during the pandemic. It focuses on the fashion and beauty sectors and found that posts mentioning brands on Instagram have gone down slightly from the start of February until April 10, while those on YouTube have gone up.

For Begley, platforms like TikTok will keep growing — and are likely to reach new audiences. “You won’t see the influencer space going away. Frankly, it will probably grow in the long run just because, you know, my wife’s mother never would have spent any time on TikTok before and (now) she actually watches it every night.”