Do Aloe Vera Plants Bloom?
Desert succulent flowers are just as exciting as their leaves! If you’re wondering whether or not your aloe vera plant will produce a flower, in this article, Former organic farmer and garden expert Logan Hailey explains the necessary conditions for these popular succulents to bloom.
Aloe vera is known for its sunburn-soothing gel and digestive-aiding juice, but there is more to this popular houseplant succulent than meets the eye! Like many houseplants, it originates in the tropics and naturally produces flowers and seeds. However, most of us have never seen an aloe vera plant in bloom because the plants rarely flower indoors.
Fortunately, there are several tricks you can use to encourage an indoor or outdoor aloe to produce its vibrant flowers. If you’re wondering whether or not your aloe will flower this year, here is a quick overview of this tropical plant’s lifecycle, care, and flowering requirements.
The Short Answer
Yes, aloe plants bloom! Aloe vera is known for its succulent, gel-filled leaves, but the flowers are equally exciting. A mature aloe plant (at least four years old) growing outdoors will produce intriguing blooms with enough warmth, light, and fertility.
A flower stalk typically emerges in the spring (March through May) in zones 8 through 12 and produces a vibrant candle-like flower in yellow, orange, or red, depending on the species. The flowers last several weeks before turning into small elongated seed pods.
If you’ve ever grown Red Hot Poker plants, you have a general idea of what aloe flowers look like. The tubular bright-colored clusters look strikingly similar because both plants are in the Asphodelaceae family. Aloe flower colors vary between species and may appear orange, red, yellow, or pink.
Indoor aloe plants rarely, if ever, produce flowers. They are often kept in containers that are too small and in conditions with too little light to fuel floral production. Many houseplants are too young or are kept in a juvenile state due to their container conditions and mistakes in their care.
If you are lucky enough to have an aloe bloom indoors or in a greenhouse, increase watering frequency (without drowning your plant). Cut back the flower stalk after blooming to ensure the potted plant can continue its growth.
The Long Answer
Aloe is a tropical perennial native to Africa and the Arabian peninsula. In conditions similar to its tropical home, aloe blooms tubular red, yellow, orange, or pink clusters every year, sometimes multiple times per season. As a member of the Asphodelaceae family, the Aloe genus includes approximately 140 species closely related to other succulent herbs like Haworthia and Kniphofia (“Red Hot Poker”).
The medicinal use of aloe leaf gel was first recorded over 2,400 years ago in both China and India. The Egyptians called aloe “the plant of immortality,” and the Greeks referred to the plant as a panacea of medicine. While we most commonly correlate aloe’s soothing properties with the leaves, the tubular flowers have also been used for immune and digestive issues.
What Do Aloe Vera Flowers Look Like?
When the plant blooms, a tall central stalk emerges from the center of the plant and produces a cylindrical cluster of tube-shaped flowers that resemble a candle. Growers of the Red Hot Poker plant may recognize similarities to aloe blooms because both plants are members of the same family.
The bloom’s size and color depend on the aloe species, but many varieties yield red, orange, or yellow inflorescences. The individual flowers are quite small and arranged in equal distances along the elongated stem in a pattern that botanists call a raceme.
Is it Rare for an Aloe Plant to Flower?
It is uncommon for aloe to flower indoors; however, it is very normal and expected for these plants to bloom every year once they mature in outdoor tropical conditions.
Many cold-climate gardeners and houseplant enthusiasts may never see their aloe plants bloom, but anyone in zones 8-12 who has a mature outdoor aloe plant should see flowers from fully grown plants. If your aloe plant is not flowering, you may need to address common problems like root rot, overwatering, or lack of sunlight.
Will Aloe Die After It Flowers?
Unlike agaves and some other succulents, these plants will continue growing after they flower. When grown outdoors, these tropical herbaceous perennials naturally produce flowers yearly and will not die after blooming.
The candle-like inflorescences are filled with brightly colored tubular flowers that continue to appear each year as long as your aloe plant is at least four years old and has enough sunlight, warmth, and properly drained soil.
How Do I Get My Aloe Plant to Flower? Requirements for Blooming
Aloe plants are well-adapted to arid conditions and use their thick, water-storing leaves to withstand long periods of drought. Getting these tropical succulents to bloom is not complicated, but it may require patience or moving the plant to a better location.
Age is one of the main factors determining your aloe plant’s likelihood of blooming. Like all plants and animals, aloes have a juvenile and a reproductive phase. If the plant is under four years old, it is probably still in the juvenile phase and will not produce flowers.
Once it reaches four to five years old, the plant has enough root and leaf development to shift its energy toward reproduction. Patience is key; you cannot expect a baby aloe to bloom until it is fully established.
Indoor aloe plants in small containers are unlikely to shift to the reproductive stage because the environment constrains their growth. Most houseplants remain in a juvenile state, so we rarely see them bloom unless they are grown in large containers with supplemental lighting and warmth.
Light is the second most limiting factor for flowers on this succulent. This tropical plant needs plenty of sunlight. It naturally grows and flowers in arid, rocky areas with intense sun. While these succulents can tolerate indirect sunlight indoors, they require at least 6 hours of bright sunlight outdoors to encourage blooming.
Partial shade is acceptable in hot southern climates, but anyone growing aloe in zones 8-9 should probably plant it in a full-sun outdoor bed. Shade reduces the possibility of flowering. Indoors, you may wish to provide supplemental lighting to make up for a lack of sunshine in the winter and early spring.
Temperatures between 70 and 85°F are ideal to induce flowering. It prefers to flower when it is warm and sunny in the spring and summer. In zones 10-12, temperatures above 70°F are expected, but aloe gardeners in colder regions must protect the plant from dips below 60°F. Otherwise, it may become shocked and can’t produce blooms.
Potted aloes often receive plenty of warmth indoors but won’t bloom because of their age, small container size, and lack of sunlight. If you move a potted aloe outdoors for the summer, be sure to bring it inside on cooler nights.
Avoid placing the plant near window sills with cold drafts. Remember that the temperature of a window can fluctuate drastically throughout the day and throughout the season. When in doubt, keep a thermometer near the aloe plant to ensure it stays above 70°F.
These succulents are adapted to low-nutrient soils, so if you are growing outdoors in gravelly or sandy soil, the plant will likely flower without any fertilizer. Indoors, aloe can benefit from supplemental fertilizer if it is diluted, balanced, and slow-release.
Diluted fertilizer should be mixed with water to ensure it is about half the strength. Balanced means the NPK numbers on the front are roughly equal, such as 3-3-4. Slow-release means the fertilizer is organic and must be broken down by microorganisms to become plant-available.
Quick-release synthetic fertilizers are not recommended. These succulents are very sensitive to fertilizer burn, so fertilize sparingly. Avoid fertilizing in the winter so the plant can go through its natural dormancy phase.
To bloom, aloe must have its preferred well-drained, sandy desert soil. A plant growing in waterlogged or heavy clay soil will be under too much stress to produce blooms. It can easily succumb to root rot in soggy, acidic environments.
Outdoor aloe plants should be grown in beds thoroughly amended with coarse sand, vermiculite, perlite, or fine gravel. Potted plants do well in a cactus or succulent soil mix.
Overwatering is the primary mistake people make with aloe plants that prevent them from flowering. This drought-hardy plant naturally stores moisture in its leaves, so it doesn’t need continuously wet soil. Too much irrigation will hinder blooming and harm the overall health of the aloe. Instead, let the soil dry out between watering, then give it a nice flush of water every week or so. This mimics the desert’s natural cycles of long drought, then sudden rains.
Always stick your finger in the soil to check the moisture before irrigating. Your skin should never come out caked in soil, which indicates the soil is too heavy and wet. You want the water to drain straight through the soil and dry out completely. Deep watering is more important than frequent watering. This means you should infrequently water aloe, but give it big drinks at once.
In a container, you can water until moisture flows out of the bottom, then stop. For outdoor plants in the summer, it’s best to water until the soil appears moistened (but never puddled or soggy), then let the plant bask in the hot sun.
How Often Does an Aloe Vera Plant Flower?
Once they reach maturity (about four years or older), aloe plants usually flower at least once per year. They produce a central stalk that emerges from the basal spiky leaves. The stalk produces a cluster of tubular flowers (called a raceme) and typically stays in bloom for 2-3 weeks until their seed pods begin to form. In tropical climates, aloes may bloom twice or three times per growing season!
Outdoor plants with lots of sunlight will likely bud and bloom in the summer. Indoor plants are unlikely to bloom at all. In the rare event that they reach maturity in a container and grow in warm, sunny conditions, they may produce flowers once per year in the summer.
Your aloe plant is a lot more than a cluster of gel-filled leaves! These gorgeous succulents produce gorgeous flowers grown outdoors in tropical and subtropical climates. The key to inducing flowering is to wait until the plant is at least three to four years old and provide it with 6+ hours of direct sunlight, temperatures above 70°F, and extra well-drained soil.