How to Tell If Aloe Needs Water & Care Tips

Although an aloe plant is usually overwatered, it can be underwatered as well. Learning how to tell if aloe needs water is an important part of caring for these popular indoor plants.

An improper watering schedule can lead to a variety of problems including fungal disease.

Luckily, there are many warning signs of an overwatered aloe plant as well as signs of an underwatered aloe vera plant.

These signs can help you learn how to tell if your aloe plant needs water or if you have a different issue.

Aloe barbadensis is the most common type of aloe found in homes across the world due to its many health benefits.

Since the native environment of the Arabian peninsula is hot and dry, this plant requires less water than a lot of other indoor house plants.

This can make proper care confusing for new plant owners.

How to Tell If Aloe Needs Water

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Health Benefits of Aloe Plants

Aloe plants are a great plant to have around for a variety of reasons. They are one of the few plants that produce oxygen as a byproduct during the night which makes them a great plant to have in the bedroom.

The gel found inside certain varieties of aloe leaves offers a lot of health benefits. The entire plant can be used for quite a few medicinal purposes including treating sunburn which is what they are most known for but they also contain plenty of antioxidants such as vitamins A (beta-carotene), C, and E.

Eating aloe vera gel inside of the aloe plant leaves has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels and inflammation. There are over 500 varieties of aloe vera plants but not all of them offer health benefits, so be sure to grab the right variety if you are hoping to reap the medicinal benefits of aloe vera.

aloe in the desert

Can Aloe Vera Help In a Garden?

Yes, these plants are also beneficial in the garden. When researching different ways to improve the strength of my tomato plant cells, I learned that this plant is known for its natural rooting hormone. I cut off a piece of aloe and added the aloe vera gel to a fertilizer mix for my vegetable garden and was amazed by the results.

All of my plants that looked as though they weren’t going to make it early on, ended up being the most productive plants I have ever grown. Now I use this method every year when planting my vegetable garden.

How Much Sunlight Does My Plant Need?

While an aloe plant thrives when given plenty of natural light, leaving them in direct sunlight can cause issues such as burning of the leaves. Indirect light is best for this plant as they can be prone to sunburn.

How to Tell if Aloe Needs Water

Place your finger into the soil, if you feel any moisture, it is not time to water. You can also do this with a plant stick, if it comes out with moisture or soil stuck to it, do not water it.

A general rule for watering aloe plants is to let them dry out completely before watering again.

The watering schedule will vary throughout the year. During warmer months, you may need to water your plants every other week but during the Winter months, you may not need to water these plants more often than once a month.

Do I Need to Feed My Aloe Plant?

Since the native environment of this plant is known for soil lacking essential nutrients, this is not something we really have to worry about with this easy-to-care-for plant. 

If you do decide that you want to feed your aloe plant, you can pick up a cactus feed. This is best done in the warmer months, so it is best to feed your aloe plant in early Spring or at the beginning of the Summer.

I have had many aloe plants for a long time that have never been fertilized.

How to Tell If Aloe Needs Water Or is Overwatered

Brown Leaves

Browning of the leaves of an aloe plant is usually due to overwatering.

The leaves will show brown areas starting at the base of the plant, and eventually spreading to the top.

You will also probably notice that the fleshy leaves become soft and squishy, this is a sure sign that your plant has been given too much water. This can be a sign of root rot which can kill your plant.

The best way to remedy this situation is to remove the plant from the pot and start over with fresh soil.

Brown Tips on Leaves

When just the tips of your aloe plant turn brown, this is usually due to a lack of humidity or too much sun exposure.

When you notice brown spots on the plant it is best to pull it away from direct sunlight. The brown leaf tips will not produce new growth so you can cut the dry leaf edges to leave just the healthy growth behind.

Yellow Leaves

While aloe enjoys a sunny spot, the bright light from a full sun location can lead to sunburn. The yellow leaves on an aloe plant will usually begin at the tip and spread down to the base of the plant.

Moving your plant to a location with less direct sunlight for long periods may be all you need to remedy the problem of aloe vera leaves turning yellow.

How to Tell If Aloe Needs Water

Black Spots on Aloe Vera Plant

Black spots are usually a sign of fungal infection. The black spots usually appear at the base of the plant as well as on the leaves.

This could be due to a few different factors including, nutrient deficiency, too much humidity or not enough, overwatering, or even poor air circulation.

When black spots appear on an aloe vera plant during the Winter months it is usually due to the dry air. The lack of humidity during the colder months can easily be remedied by using a humidifier for your plants.

You can pick up a small space humidifier to keep near your plants if this is a common problem in your home, most of us in the midwest are familiar with this issue and run a humidifier already.

Leaves Puckering or Droopy Leaves

You can usually tell how drought-tolerant a plant is based on the thickness of its leaves because this is a sign that they retain a lot of water. When aloe plant leaves begin to pucker or droop, this is usually a sign that your plant is experiencing a lack of water.

Check the soil and if it is dry to the touch and your plant is showing signs of water deficiency, it’s a good time to water your plant.

Aloe Vera Plant Care Tips Beyond How to Tell if Aloe Needs Water


A cactus mix is an ideal soil for aloe. Many potting soils retain too much moisture which can lead to problems for the root system of an aloe plant and will eventually kill it.

Using the right potting mix or soil type is the best way to avoid soggy soil that retains excess moisture. Using regular potting soil will cause problems for the plant’s roots as it will not allow the water to pass through.

Clay soil is not good for aloe because you want well-drained soil or sandy soil. Using a cactus mix is best since it has a lower water-holding capacity than other types of potting mixes with poor drainage.


Finding the right place for your aloe plant to live is an important part of aloe vera plant care. Despite common belief, lots of light isn’t always a good thing for a succulent plant. 

The best way to make sure your plant receives the right amount of light is to set it in a location where it will get about 3-4 hours of direct morning sunlight or about 2-3 hours of direct afternoon sunlight. 

An east-facing window is ideal but if you only have a south-facing window available, you may want to think about getting a grow light to ensure that your plant is getting enough light.

Artificial light can mimic indirect sunlight but may require long running times to mimic the intensity of sunlight.

Pot Type

A drainage hole at the bottom of the pot is very important for healthy roots. A drainage hole combined with the right soil can help excess water to drain out of the pot before it has a chance to soak into the plant tissues and cause problems.

A heavy pot such as one made of terra cotta can be a good choice to balance out the weight of the top-heavy plant.

This is the preferred option because you can easily get small clay pots and not have to worry about using a pot that is too big for your plant in order to have a sturdy base.

Plastic pots are prone to tipping over when a plant is top-heavy. This can be an issue because when using an oversized pot you will have to add in even more soil which can lead to your plants retaining more water than they need.

Using a wide pot rather than a deep pot is best because aloe vera plant roots will tend to spread out. When transplanting to a larger pot, a good rule of thumb is to go one to two inches bigger.

How to Tell If Aloe Needs Water

Watering Frequency

To know if you have an underwatered aloe plant look at the soil, this is how to tell if aloe needs water. Only water an aloe vera plant when the soil is dry to the touch. You can insert a stick into the dry potting soil or put your finger into the dry soil to see if your plants already have enough water or if they could use a good soak.

Keep in mind that you will not need to water aloe vera plants as often during the Winter season. The plants go dormant during this season so they will not require a lot of water in a colder climate. During the Summer months, your plants will need to be watered more frequently.

Pay much attention to the soil and ensure that your plant has good drainage before watering. In the Winter, you may not need to water your aloe plants more than once every 3-4 weeks but during the Summer they may require more watering.

Best Water Source

Using rainwater or distilled water is best for aloe vera plants. These plants are sensitive to the ph of tap water so using a water filtration system, distilled water, or collecting rainwater is best.

houseplant care tips

Propagating Aloe Vera Plants

Using the pups from a parent plant is the best way to grow new plants. When cutting pups off of the parent plant it is best to keep as many of the roots attached as possible.

Your plants have the best possible start if they have an already established root system. Place in pots, add a cactus mix, and a little water, and watch your new plants grow!

Helpful Plant Care Guides

I hope you enjoyed this post sharing tips for aloe plants and information on how to tell if aloe needs water. You may also enjoy these other houseplant articles.

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The Hobby Wife

As an avid gardener, dedicated homemaker, and culinary enthusiast, I bring a wealth of knowledge and passion to every aspect of homemaking, recipes, travel, and gardening. My journey is deeply rooted in a love for nature, food, and exploration, which I share through my engaging content.

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