Aloe vera is a plant that is well-loved for many reasons. Primarily, the succulent is an attractive plant that has thick green leaves and looks wonderful in any home. However, this is a plant that is also recognised for its incredible medicinal benefits and many people are interested in growing it to relieve skin conditions, digestive problems and a whole host of other problems. But with the cooler climate, a lot of gardeners are left wondering; can you grow aloe vera outside in the UK? Choosing the right location and container for your aloe vera plant will ensure that it does well when you take it outside. While it may begin its life indoors, once the summer comes, things could change. In this guide, we will be telling you everything you need to know to successfully keep aloe outdoors in the UK.
What Are The Right Conditions For Aloe Vera?
To thrive, Aloe Vera requires specific conditions:
- Light: Aloe vera prefers bright, indirect sunlight. While it can tolerate some direct sunlight, prolonged exposure can cause the leaves to turn brown or red. A sunny windowsill with filtered light or a location with morning sun and afternoon shade is ideal.
- Soil: This plant thrives in well-draining soil. A cactus or succulent mix is recommended. Ensure the pot has drainage holes to prevent water from sitting at the bottom, which can lead to root rot.
- Watering: Aloe vera is drought-tolerant and prefers to be watered deeply but infrequently. Allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings. Overwatering can be detrimental, causing the roots to rot.
- Temperature: Aloe prefers an area with average annual temperatures between 19-27°C, but can tolerate temperatures ranging from 10°C to 35°C. If temperatures drop below 10°C, it’s best to bring the plant indoors.
- Humidity: Aloe vera prefers a dry environment and doesn’t require added humidity. However, it can tolerate some humidity if other conditions, especially soil dryness, are maintained.
Where is Aloe Vera From?
Aloe is a plant that is native to the continent of Africa; the climates across this continent can vary wildly from arid to humid and burning hot to relatively cool. These varied climates mean that more than 400 species of aloe have evolved here and as such, homeowners in the UK have some scope to keep certain ones in their gardens. Aloe vera is just one of the many varieties of the aloe plant and potentially the most well-known. Aloe vera does have some subspecies that will tolerate much cooler conditions but on the whole, it will not do well in frost. The more hardy versions of this plant are able to withstand even freezing temperatures, these are the Alpine varieties.
What’s more, there are two most common types of aloe vera, these are:
- True aloe: this variety may produce small yellow flowers, but warmer climates are required for this so it is unlikely to happen in the UK. Although it is not unheard of.
- Stripe stemmed aloe: this variety is more commonly found in South Africa and is relatively hardy. It produces yellow flowers that look similar to the red hot poker and while it may thrive in a gravelly bed in the right climate, it is unlikely to survive the winter in the UK.
Can I Grow Aloe Vera Outside In The UK?
No, Aloe vera cannot be grown outdoors in the UK. In the UK, we do not have the correct climate or conditions for aloe vera to grow successfully. Aloe grown in pots can be taken outside during the warmer months but as soon as the temperatures start to drop at the end of the summer, they must be brought back inside. These kinds of displays will give an alternative summer theme to your garden and will look just as pretty when moved indoors during the winter.
Does Potted Aloe Vera Like Full Sun?
No, although aloe vera likes temperate regions, they do not tolerate full sun, so if you are going to keep your plant outdoors, you will need to find a location that gives it partial shade. When they grow in the wild, succulents such as aloe vera will always locate themselves in a shady spot but one that does receive a small amount of light. If the plants are regularly exposed to the heat of the midday sun, this will do them no favours.
What Types of Aloe Can I Grow Outside In The UK?
If your hopes of growing an aloe vera plant from scratch in your garden have been dashed, there is still a glimmer of light. As we mentioned earlier, there are more than 400 varieties of the aloe plant and some of them will do very well in cooler climates. While aloe vera might not do too well in UK soil, the aloe Ferox plant and the aloe arborescens are both winter hardy (to about -5°C) alternatives for people who want to have a go at cultivating these beautiful succulents. These species do very well in moist areas, which is excellent news for UK gardeners as we certainly aren’t short on a bit of rain.
Temperate areas like the UK, where winters are cool to cold and summers are mild to warm make ideal locations for these hardy cousins of the aloe vera plant.
How Much Water Does Aloe Vera Need?
One of the first things to keep in mind when potting aloe vera is that these plants will store moisture in their leaves. Aloe vera does not need to be watered all that often. In fact, you can get away with only watering these plants once every two to three weeks. That being said, if you come to water your plant and the soil is at all damp, leave it a little longer.
What is the Best Soil For Aloe Vera?
Aloe vera needs well-drained soil and this means putting them in pots with plenty of drainage holes. Another great way to ensure the soil stays well-drained is to use gritty composts like those that are specially designed for cacti and succulents. Furthermore, a lot of people find success in adding a little perlite to the soil to keep it from remaining too moist.
How Do I Repot an Aloe Vera?
When you take your aloe vera plant outdoors and it has the right conditions, it may begin to grow significantly and even have babies. If your aloe vera has babies, it is important to separate the plants by moving them to another container.
1 – Prepare the New Pot
Select a pot that’s slightly larger than the current one. Ensure it has good drainage holes.
2 – Prepare the Soil
Use a well-draining potting mix, preferably cactus or succulent mix. You can also add some perlite or sand to improve drainage.
3 – Remove the Aloe Vera
Gently tip the old pot sideways and ease out the Aloe Vera, being careful not to damage its roots. Shake off the old soil from the roots.
4 – Trim if Necessary
If there are any rotten or overly long roots, trim them with clean scissors.
5 – Place in the New Pot
Add some potting mix to the bottom of the new pot. Position the Aloe Vera in the centre, ensuring it’s planted at the same depth as before. Fill around the plant with more soil, but don’t pack it too tightly.
6 – Place in Suitable Location
Position your repotted Aloe Vera in a bright, indirect sunlight location. Avoid exposing it to direct sunlight immediately after repotting to prevent sunburn.
7 – Monitor the Plant
Keep an eye on your Aloe Vera over the next few weeks to ensure it’s adjusting well to its new environment. If you notice any signs of stress, like yellowing leaves, adjust its care accordingly.
Important: Once you have moved the plant into its new pot, it is essential that you leave it dry for at least ten days. The purpose of this is to allow the roots to seek out moisture and as a result of this, the plant will become better established.
Well, can aloe vera grow outside UK? Unfortunately, no, aloe vera cannot be grown in UK gardens as it will not survive the winter. However, it is possible to move your potted aloe plants outdoors during the summer, provided that you pick a shady spot where your plant will thrive.
Garden Doctor Tips
“Aloe Vera plants are best grown in pots in the UK and taken outdoors for a bit in the summer!”
“If you have any particularly wet summer days, bring your aloe straight inside, they do not like soil to be too wet!”
“If you do decide to plant your aloe outside, ensure the soil is extremely well-draining and mix in around 50% gravel.
“When putting your aloe out for the summer, find a spot with partial shade as too much sun will scorch it after being inside most of its life!”
Frequently Asked Questions
Can aloe vera survive outdoors in the UK?
Potted Aloe can go outdoors in the summer but Aloe will not grow outdoors in the UK if planted in the ground. Aloe is a warm climate plant and the UK just isn’t warm enough for Aloe to thrive.
Can you plant aloe vera in the garden UK?
No, planting Aloe in the UK is a death sentence for the plant. Aloe needs temperatures above what we get in the UK. Potted Aloe can be taken outdoors in the summer but must not be left out in the colder months or it will not survive.
What do I do with my aloe plant in the winter?
In the UK, without a doubt, aloe vera should be inside. These plants do not survive the UK climate although when potted, they can go in the garden for periods of warm weather in the summer.
Trevor Wright is not just a seasoned horticulturist; he’s the esteemed Garden Doctor. With a BSc in Horticulture and years of hands-on experience in the soil, Trevor has become a trusted mentor for all things gardening. As the founder of Garden Doctor, he’s committed to clarifying the intricacies of gardening, offering straightforward advice that’s rooted in years of practice. His writing is a garden of how-tos, savvy insights, and comprehensive guides that enable individuals to nurture and grow their garden dreams. When he’s not knee-deep in garden beds, Trevor is at his keyboard passing on his green-thumbed wisdom to budding gardeners, ensuring that the legacy of sustainable and joyful gardening blossoms far and wide.