Getting an aloe vera plant for your home or office is a smart idea, but you might struggle with positioning – does an aloe plant need sunlight or shade? Could your choice of location be the reason why your aloe is not thriving?
Aloe vera is part of the succulent family, a group of plants that are predisposed to survive harsher conditions. They might withstand longer without water than other plants, but they can’t do with a lack of direct light.
Aloe Plants – The Ultimate House Plants
There are over 420 species of aloe plants; the most popular one in the US is the aloe vera. It found its use both as a decorative and medicinal plant centuries ago. The aloe has spear-shaped leaves with tiny teeth on the edges for protection. The leaves shoot out of the center of the plant without stems. They’re the section of the plant that stores water, so they’re thick and fleshy.
You can use the gel inside the leaves topically to soothe irritations and burns. A study has shown that the gel is 99% water and can improve the skin’s flexibility. There are a limited number of types of aloe that are small enough to be house plants. Most of them can grow up to 3 feet in height.
Do Aloe Plants Need Sun Every Day
Succulents like the aloe plant are usually the first choice for newbies to the plant world. This is due to their low-maintenance type and aesthetical appearance. However, the aloe plant has one great specific need – sunlight.
Think about the spot you’ll choose for your plant before getting it. Aloe vera requires at least 6 hours a day of indirect sunlight – natural or artificial. Lack of sunlight will lead to aloe flopping and the leaves turning yellow.
What to do if you have aloe in a place with limited natural sunlight? It could be in an office far away from a window, for example. Aloe’s don’t act any differently under artificial light, so providing any light source will work.
Is Your Aloe Light Dependent?
The aloe plant requires sunlight for at least 6 hours a day. Anything less is not enough, and the plant won’t thrive. As the aloe grows, it can look like a clump with leaves poking from the center. Lack of light makes the leaves fall to the sides, almost like when a regular blooming plant wilts.
However, too much direct sunlight can also harm the aloe. They’re sensitive to burning, and you should pay attention that none of the leaves are touching a heated window. If you’re exposing the plant to continuous, direct sunlight, you must rethink your watering schedule. Even though aloes are succulents and don’t require much water, direct sun can dry out the soil and their leaves.
Artificial Light For Aloe Plants
Artificial light can serve as a suitable replacement for sunlight when you’re dealing with different types of situations. Place the source – a lamp, for example, 6 to 12 inches away from the aloe, but pointed to the plant.
The main problem is that artificial light doesn’t equal sunlight. Your aloe plant needs at least 14 to 16 hours of direct artificial light, which is almost triple the amount of sunlight.
What Aloe Plants Can’t Live Without?
Despite sunlight, aloe plants also require good watering regiments, suitable temperatures, and nutrition.
Aloes have two seasons – active growth and non-active growth period known as winter rest. During the active period when daylight is abundant, the aloe requires more frequent watering. It thrives in dry conditions, but you need to keep the aloe’s soil from drying out completely. During low-light or winter season, the aloe plant needs the occasional watering.
Aloe plants thrive best in temperatures between 60 to 75°F during the day. However, nighttime temperatures need to be lower, ranging from 50 to 60°F. The 10 degrees temperature difference between day and night is essential for the booming growth of the aloe.
The aloe plant needs some additional nutrition only once in a while during its active growth period.
Best Conditions For Aloe Vera – Sunlight Or Artificial Light?
White fluorescent light will help your sunlight-deprived aloe plant to survive. But is it good enough?
We know that humans require sunlight because of the vitamin D, and no artificial light can replace that need altogether. How about plants? Plants and aloes, in particular, need light only because of photosynthesis. This process allows them to feed and grow. The source of light doesn’t affect the process.
The most important thing is to choose an adequate amount of light. For best results, look for bulbs with 2,000 lumens. It might seem low since there are 10,000 lumens per square foot in direct sunlight. But remember that you’ll be running the fluorescent lamp for at least 14 hours.
The color needs to match the sunlight, so look for 5,000 Kelvins. Beware that some fluorescent lights can produce too much heat. You don’t want to end up looking for a way to chill the room or the plant.
How To Plant An Aloe Vera
- Get a heavy, sturdy pot with drainage holes that will allow the soil to drain and prevent the plant from tipping over and breaking.
- Get a well-draining potting mix, and fill 2/3 of the pot. You don’t need any additional drainage layers like gravel.
- Remove the aloe from the current pot and clean away any excess dirt from its roots.
- Place it in the new pot and cover with soil almost to the top, leaving out 3/4 of an inch.
- Set the plant in a warm room in indirect sunlight. Don’t water the aloe at least a week after transplanting.
The Verdict: Does An Aloe Plant Need Sunlight To Thrive
Aloe plants are low-maintenance succulents that withstand desert-like conditions. They can do without water but can’t survive without sunlight. Therefore, you need to provide your aloe plant with at least 6 hours of natural sunlight or 14 hours of artificial light.
Direct sunlight and too much watering can damage the plant. But it can withstand humid conditions.
Where do you keep your aloe plant? Have you tried using the gel from the leaves?
Mary is a passionate gardener who loves spending her days getting her hands dirty and nurturing her plants. She‘s an avid reader of gardening magazines and is always looking for new ways to make her garden thrive. When not outside tending to her plants, Mary can be found inside reading up on the latest gardening trends, comparing notes with fellow gardeners, and finding the perfect pottery planter for her next planting project.