Drought Tolerant Aloe Vera Plants Are Easy to Grow

Beautiful and drought tolerant, aloe vera attracts hummingbirds and can be grown in almost any garden. Learn tips for aloe vera plant care.

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Aloe vera gel‘s ability to soothe burns is well known, but did you know that the plant itself is beautiful, drought tolerant, and can be grown in almost any garden? Here’s what you should know about this pretty and useful succulent, including how to take care of an aloe vera plant.

Check out the top 10 water wise plants that will thrive in a dry spell.

All About Aloe Vera Plants

drought tolerant aloe veraCourtesy Noelle Johnson
Aloe vera plants enjoying filtered shade underneath a mesquite tree.

Aloe vera (Aloe spp.) is native to Africa, and it belongs to the lily family of plants. This attractive flowering succulent can be grown both indoors and outdoors. In zone 9 and above, aloe grows outdoors throughout the year. However, these plants can be enjoyed by gardeners in all climates. Bring them indoors when temperatures dip below freezing and then take them back outside once the weather warms up.

Aloe’s leaves are thick and fleshy with ‘teeth’ on the edges. Water is stored inside of the leaves, which grow 1 to 2 feet high and have a rosette form at the base of the plant. Aloe vera produces new plants outside of the main clump of leaves. These young plants can be divided (split them off with a sharp shovel) and replanted elsewhere in the garden or given to friends.

Check out an expert’s advice for growing a drought-tolerant garden.

Aloe Vera Plant Care

246893235 1 Tom Mangelsdorf Bnbhc20Courtesy Tom Mangelsdorf
An Anna’s hummingbird perched on the spike of an aloe plant enjoys the afternoon sun in Arizona.

Aloe vera looks best when planted in groups. These plants are suitable for use next to swimming pools; they also look great when placed along a walkway. Like most succulents, this plant is excellent for growing in containers, which is helpful for those in colder climates who need to bring it indoors in winter. Since aloe tolerates a variety of light conditions, it’s a great choice for a houseplant beginner. It does need well-draining soil, so choose a potting mix that is specially formulated for succulents.

Here’s how to grow a drought tolerant rosemary shrub.

Aloe vera house plant in wicker standAnn Schwede/Getty Images
Aloe vera is easy to grow as a houseplant.

Plant aloe vera in an area that receives full sun or partial shade. In locations with hot, reflected sun, it will do best with a bit of afternoon shade. Flower spikes appear in spring and bloom through early summer. Hummingbirds eagerly descend upon the flowers, much to the delight of gardeners who grow this beautiful plant. (Psst—hummingbirds love drought-tolerant penstemon, too.)

While drought tolerant, aloe vera does best with some supplemental water in the absence of rainfall. Water deeply and then allow the top 3 inches of soil to dry out before watering again. If the leaf tips begin to brown, that is a sign the plant needs more water. When is the best time to water plants?

Besides the beauty that aloe vera brings to the landscape, it is also a handy plant to have on hand when you have an abrasion or burn. Simply cut off a leaf from the bottom of the plant, drain off the yellow latex sap, and press the open part to your wound.

Next, check out 11 succulents that will attract pollinators.

Noelle Johnson
Noelle Johnson is a horticulturist, writer and certified arborist who lives and gardens in the desert Southwest. She is the CEO and owner of 'AZ Plant Lady,' an education company that aims to help people garden successfully in the desert climate. She is the author of the book, Dry Climate Gardening, and her byline has appeared in publications such as Birds & Blooms and Phoenix Home & Garden magazine. She is an instructor at the Desert Botanical garden and Tucson Botanical Gardens.