Aloe vera plants are the unsung heroes of the plant world if you ask me. Sure, they may just look like unassuming succulents chillin’ in their pots. But those fleshy leaves are filled with that magical, soothing gel we’ve all turned to after catching a few too many rays. Whether you use it for sunburns, skin care routines, or just admire the plant itself, aloes make for awesome, low-maintenance houseguests.

But as much as these spiky greens can survive neglect like champs, giving them a little TLC in the fertilizer department does wonders. I’ve experimented with all sorts of feeding regimens over the years, and let me tell you – proper nutrients at the right times make a huge difference in growth and vitality. We’re talking bigger, more robust leaves and lots of new offspring to share the aloe love.

That’s why I’m really excited to dive into all things aloe fertilizers with you today! I’ll cover the basics on feeding schedules, essential nutrients, and my favorite recipes for whipping up some super affordable homemade fertilizer. We’re talking stuff you can literally make from kitchen scraps (a passion of mine!) But I’ve also got the scoop on great commercial options too – from liquids to slow-release pellets that make life easy.

Like I mentioned in my last post on how to size up your aloe, the trick is walking that fine line with fertilizer. Not too much to burn them, but not too little to stunt growth. I’m seriously passionate about getting this plant nutrition thing right. So let’s dig in and explore best fertilizer for aloe vera and get your aloes the fuel they need to flourish! I’ve got so many tips to share.

A top view of an aloe plant.

Aloe Vera Plant Care Basics:

The table below provides a quick reference guide on the basic care requirements for aloe vera plants.

Growing Season and Ideal Conditions– Active growth in spring/summer – Prefer warm temperatures (70-80°F) – Bright, indirect sunlight or partial shade
Watering Needs and Drainage Requirements– Allow soil to dry between waterings – Well-draining soil mixture – Pots with drainage holes to prevent rot
Common Issues– Root rot from overwatering – Spider mites – Sunburn if too much direct light
Repotting and Soil Requirements– Repot every 2-3 years in spring – Use well-draining cactus/succulent soil mix – Terra cotta pots help prevent soggy soil
A small condensed leaf aloe plant.

When to Fertilize Aloe Vera Plants

Timing is everything when it comes to feeding your aloe plants and giving them the nutrients they need to thrive.

Spring and summer as active growth periods

The best time to fertilize your aloe plants is during the spring and summer months. This is when they come out of their winter dormancy and enter into their active plant growth phase. The warmer temperatures and longer days trigger aloes to start putting out new leaves, roots, and offshoots. Providing nutrients during this growth spurt gives them the fuel they need to really thrive.

Adjusting frequency based on plant size and age

How often you fertilize should depend on the size and age of your aloe. Younger, smaller plants need more frequent feedings, maybe once a month. As they mature into larger, more established plants, you can cut back to fertilizing every other month or so during the growing season. A large, older aloe that has been in the same pot for years may only need a couple applications per year. The bigger the plant, the less frequently it needs food.

Signs a plant needs fertilizing

You can also let your aloe give you hints when it’s hungry for nutrients. If you notice stunted new growth, paler or dulling leaves, or a general lack of vigor, those can all be signs that it’s time for a nutrient boost. A fertilized aloe should put out new leaves consistently and maintain a healthy, vibrant green color. On the flip side, if you see brown lesions on the leaves or dry, crispy edges, that may mean you’ve overdone it on the fertilizer.

The key is paying close attention to your plant’s appearance and growth habits. An aloe’s nutrient needs can fluctuate a bit based on its environment too. But following the general spring/summer schedule while making adjustments based on size is a great place to start. Don’t let that pretty succulent get hungry!

A woman holding a an aloe plant in a pot.

When NOT to fertilize your Aloe Vera

As beneficial as fertilizer can be for boosting aloe growth, there are certain times when feeding your plant can do more harm than good.

Don’t Fertilize in Winter

Aloe plants go dormant and stop actively growing during the winter months. Fertilizing when the plant is dormant can lead to fertilizer salt buildup in the soil since the plant isn’t taking up nutrients. Hold off on feeding until you see new growth in early spring.

Avoid Fertilizing After Repotting

It’s best to wait at least 6-8 weeks after repotting an aloe before resuming fertilization. The plant needs time to recover from transplant stress and establish its new roots before being fed. Too many nutrients right after your plant is transplanted to a new pot can damage fresh new roots.

Skip It If the Plant Is Struggling

If your aloe is looking sickly with leaf discoloration, fungal issues, pest problems, or other stresses, skip the fertilizer until it bounces back to good health. Adding nutrients to an already stressed plant can further tax its systems. Resolve any care issues first before feeding.

No Fertilizing After Leaf Pruning

After removing any significant amount of an aloe’s foliage through pruning, don’t fertilize for at least a month. The plant is expending energy to recover from that foliage removal and doesn’t need extra nutrients during that healing period.

Discontinue Feeding in Fall

As day lengths shorten in early fall, aloes start preparing for dormancy. Stop fertilizing 6-8 weeks before your expected first frost to allow the plant to properly reset before winter arrives. Fertilizing too late can disrupt this dormancy process.

The main thing is to fertilize aloes only when they are actively growing, have an established root system, and don’t have any stressors limiting their nutrient uptake ability. Properly timing feedings prevents salt buildup and potential damage.

Repotting an aloe plant. Not a good time to fertilize.

Choosing the Right Aloe Vera Fertilizer

Importance of balanced NPK ratios

As you know from previous posts on this blog, when selecting a fertilizer for your aloe, it’s important to look for one with a balanced ratio of the major nutrients – nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K)1. Aloes do best with an equal or slightly higher phosphorus fertilizer, like a 10-10-10 or 5-10-5 ratio. Nitrogen promotes green, leafy growth while phosphorus supports strong root development and flowering. Too much nitrogen can lead to leggy, stretched-out growth.

Option 1: Homemade Aloe Fertilizers

Compost Tea

This is one of the easiest homemade best fertilizers you can make for your aloes. Simply steep a few shovels of finished compost in a bucket of water for a day or two, then dilute the compost “tea” further before applying to your plants. Compost provides a wide range of nutrients.

Some of my favorite kitchen scraps for compost tea used to fertilize my aloe include coffee grounds for nitrogen, banana peels for potassium, eggshells for calcium, vegetable and fruit scraps for diverse nutrients, tea bags, and herb trimmings. These scraps contribute essential nutrients to create a nutrient-rich brew that promotes healthy growth in aloe vera plants.

Aloe Vera Juice/Gel Mixture

Believe it or not, the clear gel from an aloe leaf makes a wonderful foliar spray fertilizer2 when diluted with water. Just blend a few tablespoons of fresh gel with a gallon of water. You can also add a dash of liquid kelp or compost tea for extra nutrients.

Option 2: Commercial Fertilizers

  1. Liquid Fertilizers – Look for liquid fertilizer blends specifically made for cacti and succulents in the appropriate NPK ratio. Fish emulsion and seaweed extract are great options. Dilute to half strength.
  2. Slow-Release Pellets/Granular – Granular fertilizers that gradually release nutrients over several months can be an easy, low-maintenance option for aloes. Look for ones labeled for cacti and succulents.
  3. Succulent/Cacti Fertilizers – Many fertilizer companies now offer specialized blends for feeding succulents and cacti. These have ideal nutrient ratios for aloes built right in.

Preventing Nutrient Imbalances and Excess

No matter which fertilizer you choose, be sure to follow label instructions carefully and not over-apply. Too many nutrients can lead to fertilizer burn and salt buildup in the soil. When in doubt, use a lower dilution rate or less quantity than recommended. Signs of over-fertilizing include brown lesions on the leaves and crispy, dried leaf edges. Always err on the side of too little rather than too much.

Close up of a healthy aloe plant.

How to Fertilize Aloe Vera Plants

Applying liquid fertilizers

If using a liquid fertilizer like compost tea, aloe vera gel mixture, or diluted commercial blend, the application is pretty straightforward. For potted indoor aloes, simply dilute the fertilizer to the recommended ratio with water and pour it directly on the soil around the base of the plant. Allow it to fully soak in.

For outdoor aloes in the ground, you can either water them with the diluted fertilizer solution or use it as a foliar spray, spritzing both the top and undersides of the leaves. The leaves will absorb some nutrients through their surfaces.

Using slow-release/granular fertilizers

With granular or pellet fertilizers, you’ll want to gently scratch them into the top layer of soil, then water thoroughly to help disperse the nutrients. Follow product instructions for how much to apply based on your planting area or pot size. These will release nutrients gradually over several months.

Following label directions carefully

No matter which type of fertilizer you opt for, be sure to carefully follow all label instructions to avoid over-fertilizing. This is one of the biggest mistakes people make when feeding their aloes. Too much fertilizer can build up salts and cause chemical burn.

If using a concentrated commercial fertilizer, many recommend diluting it to 1/2 or 1/4 strength for succulents like aloes that have low nutrient needs. Go with the low end of any application rate ranges given.

Adjusting for indoor vs outdoor plants

You’ll also want to adjust your fertilizing based on whether your aloes are indoor aloe vera plants or outdoors. Indoor plants generally need less frequent feedings since their growth is more limited. An application every 2-3 months during the growing season is usually sufficient

Outdoor aloes that get more light may show increased growth and need fertilizing every 4-6 weeks when actively growing. Just pay close attention to their vigor and adjust your schedule as needed based on individual plant performance.

The main things to avoid are fertilizing too much, letting fertilizer build up on the leaves, and cold temperature applications that can damage the plant. With a little practice, you’ll get the hang of giving your aloes just the right amount of food!

outdoor aloe plants.

Tips and Precautions

Allowing dry soil between waterings

One of the most important tips for fertilizing aloe vera plants is to always let the soil dry out completely between waterings and fertilizer applications. These succulents are extremely prone to root rot in soggy conditions. Make sure to stick your finger into the soil and only water/fertilize when the top few inches are fully dried out.

Avoiding excess moisture and lingering salts

Along those same lines, you’ll want to avoid any excessive moisture that can lead to fertilizer salts building up in the soil over time. This salt accumulation can burn aloe roots and leaves. Be sure pots have functioning drainage holes to allow excess moisture to escape. Gently flush the soil with plain water every few months to wash away built-up salts.

Potential signs of overfertilization

It’s easy to go overboard with feeding aloe plants, as they have very modest nutrient needs. Watch for signs you’ve applied too much fertilizer like:

  • Brown lesions or scorched patches on the leaves
  • Crispy, dried leaf edges
  • Stunted growth or small, pale leaves
  • White crust visible on the soil surface

If you notice any of these issues, immediately flush the soil with plain water and discontinue fertilizing until new growth appears healthy again.

Using terracotta pots for better drainage

To help prevent issues with excess moisture, consider potting your aloe in an unglazed terracotta pot. The porous clay allows the soil to breathe and moisture to evaporate more easily than in glazed or plastic pots. Terra cotta also promotes ideal drying between waterings. Just be sure the bottom of the pot has a drainage holes as well.

The bottom line is that overwatering and oversupplying nutrients to aloes can easily lead to problems. But allowing the soil to dry properly, using a succulent-appropriate fertilizer at reduced strength, and monitoring closely for signs of distress will keep your plants thriving. With aloes, it’s better to err on the conservative side when feeding.

Aloe in a terracotta pot.


There you have it! Everything you need to keep your aloes fed and thriving like the low-maintenance champs they are. The biggest takeaway? Go easy on these tough succulents and give them proper care!

A balanced fertilizer in the spring and summer, whether store-bought or one of those nifty homemade brews, gives them just the nutrient boost they need. But be sure to let the soil dry completely before refeeding to avoid any root rot issues.

Terra cotta pots are always a good idea too – that natural clay allows excess moisture to escape so no lingering salts build up over time. From there, just sit back and let those fleshy green leaves work their magic!

Proper aloe fertilizing is all about replicating their native environments with the right balance. A little food at the right times, and these plants have everything they need to effortlessly put out new growth year after year. Here’s to celebrating the unstoppable aloe!

My signature - a drawing of me holding a coffee cup that says Create.


  1. Landschoot, P., PhD. (n.d.-b). How to calculate a fertilizer ratio. ↩︎
  2. Patterson, S. (2021, June 24). What is foliar spray: Learn about different types of foliar spraying. Gardeningknowhow. ↩︎

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