Like other succulents and desert plants, aloe vera prefers areas of low natural rainfall. In the right conditions, it will naturalize readily. It cannot tolerate heavy frost or snow. Having evolved in a area of low soil fertility, it neither needs nor does well in rich fertile soil. It must have very good drainage, whether grown outdoors or inside in containers. It must have bright sun, especially when grown indoors.
Countries Where Aloe Vera Grows
Aloe vera is thought to be native to Arabia, specifically the south-west Arabian Peninsula. Widely cultivated around the world, it has become naturalized in North African countries such as Egypt, Morocco, Sudan and Mauritania. It is also found on the Cape Verde, Madeira and Canary Islands. Introduced to China and Europe in about the 17th century, it has also naturalized in Australia, South America and the southwestern US.
USDA Zones for Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is adapted to grow in USDA Zones 9 and above. The differences between zones are based on winter low temperatures. Zone 9 lows, for example, generally run between 20°F (-7°C) and 30 °F (-1°C) You may need to provide the plant with winter protection if it is in an unprotected situation such as northern exposure. Gardeners in colder areas usually grow aloes in pots and bring them indoors for the winter.
Growing Aloe Vera in the Garden
To grow aloe in the garden, you must meet its cultural requirements. These include:
- Bright sunlight; aloes love full sun for most of the day and won’t tolerate much shade.
- Fast-draining soil – build raised beds and mix native soil with perlite, vermiculite, coarse sand and granite.
- Minimal water; choose an area where the lawn sprinkler won’t reach.
- No additional fertilizer unless grown in pure sand; they grow in areas where soil is poor.
Aloe Vera Indoors
When grown indoors, aloe vera must have bright light. It is one of the houseplants that will actually do well in a south-facing window without shades. If you are unable to provide a bright light setting naturally, you will have to use grow lights to get your plant the light it requires. Place the lights as close as possible to the plant and keep them on 12 to 14 hours a day.