Like many other succulents, aloe plants prefer a more hands-off approach to care. They don’t require much water and seem to thrive when you forget about them for a week or two. But what about fertilizer? Much like with other areas of their care, aloe plants don’t require much fertilizer to thrive. However, they can benefit from small doses of nutrients. Keep reading to learn when and how to fertilize aloe plants.
- Fertilizing Aloe Plants – The Essentials
- The Role of Fertilization in Plant Health and Growth
- Signs Your Aloe Plant is Lacking Nutrients
- When and How Often Should You Fertilize an Aloe Plant?
- The Best Fertilizer for Aloe Plants
- How to Apply Fertilizer
- Key Considerations
- Fertilizing Aloe Plants FAQs:
- Wrapping Up
Fertilizing Aloe Plants – The Essentials
Aloe plants do not require much fertilizer and are more likely to be damaged by too much fertilizer rather than not enough. Fertilize aloe plants once a year in the spring with a diluted fertilizer designed for succulents.
The Role of Fertilization in Plant Health and Growth
All plants need 18 different nutrients to grow and thrive (and help to fend off common pests and diseases). Three of these elements (carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen) come from the air and water, but the other 15 come from the soil or fertilizer.
These 15 nutrients are broken up into macronutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium), secondary nutrients (calcium, magnesium, and sulfur), and micronutrients. Plants require the largest amount of macronutrients, followed by secondary nutrients and then micronutrients.
Each nutrient provides a specific function in plants, so an excess of one nutrient will not compensate for a lack of another.
Types of Fertilizers
Fertilizer allows you to apply nutrients to your plants. There are many different types of fertilizers, including organic and synthetic options and liquid and solid products.
Organic fertilizers can be made from numerous products that are naturally occurring. These include rock dust, seaweed, chicken manure, fish meal, and other products.
Although these fertilizers contain nutrients, not all of these nutrients are immediately available to plants. Instead, some must be broken down by beneficial microorganisms before plants can take them up.
Synthetic or inorganic fertilizers are synthesized in a lab. Some examples of synthetic fertilizers include ammonium nitrate and ammonium sulfate. These fertilizers are typically more readily available to plants than organic fertilizers.
Many types of fertilizers list the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium that a product contains, by weight. This is referred to as the NPK ratio. For example, a fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 12-15-10 will contain 12% nitrogen, 15% phosphorus, and 10% potassium by weight.
The percentage of secondary nutrients and micronutrients a fertilizer contains may be specified on a more detailed label.
Signs Your Aloe Plant is Lacking Nutrients
While aloe plants don’t need many nutrients, a lack of nutrients can lead to problems. With proper care, aloe plants can live for years (both indoors and if you’re growing aloe outside). The following signs may indicate your aloe plant is lacking nutrients.
Lack of Vigor
If your aloe plant has stopped growing or just seems to be dragging, a lack of nutrients may be to blame. Nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus allow plants to complete essential plant processes like photosynthesis and transpiration. Without these nutrients, plants can suffer.
Green leaves that turn yellow can indicate numerous issues, including a lack of nutrients. Nitrogen, phosphorus, magnesium, and other nutrients are essential for keeping plants green and healthy.
Other possible causes of yellowing leaves include overwatering, cold temperatures, high humidity, and a lack of light.
For more, see our in-depth guide on the optimal positon for aloe plants in the home for care and feng shui benefits.
When and How Often Should You Fertilize an Aloe Plant?
Aloe plants don’t need many nutrients to thrive. With that in mind, you won’t need to fertilize them too often.
It’s best to fertilize aloe plants just once a year in the spring. This will provide the plants with the nutrients they need without overfertilizing.
If you forget to fertilize in the spring, you can also apply fertilizer in the summer. However, you should avoid applying fertilizer in the fall and winter.
The Best Fertilizer for Aloe Plants
The easiest way to fertilize aloe plants is with a pre-mixed fertilizer. Both organic and synthetic fertilizers can be suitable options.
When you’re looking for a fertilizer, you can look for a product that is designed for cacti and succulents.
You can also use a generic balanced fertilizer. These products will have NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) ratios that are balanced.
Some fertilizers that can work well for aloe plants include Miracle-Gro Succulent Plant Food and Organic Succulent and Cactus Food from The Grow Co.
No matter what fertilizer you choose, you’ll want to ensure you apply it following product instructions. When in doubt, dilute the product more than necessary and apply less than is directed.
How to Apply Fertilizer
Before you apply fertilizer, make sure to thoroughly read the product label. This label should state whether or not you should dilute the product as well as recommended application rates.
If it is a liquid fertilizer, dilute it as directed, then apply it to the soil. Do not water after you apply the fertilizer.
Granular fertilizers can usually be sprinkled on the soil surface and then gently mixed into the top inch. After you add the fertilizer, continue to water your aloe plant as usual.
We’ve mentioned it before, and we’ll say it again—do not over-fertilize your aloe plants! These plants don’t need many nutrients, and applying too much fertilizer can cause them great harm.
Some signs that you may have applied too much fertilizer include brown leaf tips (or brown spots on the leaves), yellowing leaves, or a dying plant. Salt on the soil surface can also indicate too much fertilizer.
In order to avoid over-fertilizing, err on the side of applying too little fertilizer rather than too much. Remember, you can always add more later!
Another tip is to continue watering as you have been. While some people think they need to increase the amount they water after fertilizing, this may lead to overwatering and associated problems.
Fertilizing Aloe Plants FAQs:
Do Aloe Plants Need Fertilizer?
Aloe plants can survive months without fertilizer, but they will benefit from small amounts of nutrients. It’s best to fertilize aloe plants just once a year using a low-dose, balanced fertilizer.
When Should I Fertilize My Aloe Plant?
The best time to fertilize your aloe plant is in the spring. This will provide the plants with the nutrients they need to grow during the spring and summer.
What Is the Best Fertilizer for Aloe Plants?
Aloe plants prefer a balanced and diluted fertilizer. Products that are specially designed for cacti and succulents can work well for aloe plants.
Is Miracle-Gro Good for Aloe Plants?
You can use Miracle-Gro on aloe plants, but you should do so with caution. Make sure to thoroughly dilute it before applying to avoid fertilizer burn.
Are Used Coffee Grounds Good for Aloe Plants?
You should not apply used coffee grounds to aloe plants. The grounds can burn the plants and cause more harm than good.
Aloe plants only require a little bit of fertilizer, so plan on applying fertilizer just once a year. These symbolic plants will thrive thrive with a little care and attention for years to come.
For more, see our in-depth guide to Aloe plant care home.
Briana holds a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Penn State University. She manages a small market garden where she grows vegetables and herbs. She also enjoys growing flowers and houseplants at home.