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All Things Garden,  Cannabis

Homemade Fertilizer with Aloe Vera: Soil Drench or Foliar Spray

Aloe vera is prized in the natural health and skincare world for its abilities to heal, soothe, and refresh. The Egyptians even called aloe “the plant of immortality”! Aloe vera is rich in nutrients, enzymes, and antioxidants that offer numerous benefits to us humans when used topically or ingested – including a boost to hydration, digestion, cell regeneration, wound healing, and more. So, what if I told you that aloe vera can provide many of those same benefits to plants too? It’s true! You can use aloe vera as natural “fertilizer” to feed other plants! 

Read along to learn how to make homemade fertilizer with aloe vera. We’ll cover the benefits aloe vera provides, and how to use it in your garden as a soil drench or foliar spray. You can even use it on houseplants! Homemade aloe vera fertilizer is quick and easy to make with either fresh aloe vera leaves or aloe vera powder. The result is a gentle but effective superfood-like solution that your plants will love. 

Need tips on growing aloe vera? Check out this guide.

Benefits of Using Aloe Vera as Fertilizer

Improved plant growth

Aloe vera (A. barbadensis) is absolutely loaded with nutrients. Studies show that aloe vera contains over 75 beneficial compounds including amino acids, antioxidants, complex carbohydrates, calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamins A, C, E, B-vitamins, and more. When blended into a homemade fertilizer, your plants receive a gentle but potent boost of nutrition. Aloe vera fertilizer can encourage seed germination and rapid root development, improved cell strength, and contribute to overall superior plant health, growth, and vigor!

In fact, aloe is so great at promoting growth that it’s commonly used as a natural rooting hormone, used to help plant cuttings establish new roots. To use aloe vera as a rooting hormone, either: 1) dip a cut stem in pure aloe gel and then plant it, 2) soak the cutting in aloe fertilizer (like we’ll learn to make today) for 6-12 hours before planting, or 3) soak the potting medium/soil in aloe vera fertilizer. We’ve also squeezed fresh aloe vera into a broken fruit tree limb, bandaged it, and it healed!

DeannaCat is holding four large cut sections of aloe vera leaves. You can see the light through the middle of the gel as it is slightly clear and transparent. Beyond lies two raised garden beds, one containing squash and peppers lies directly behind the featured aloe while the other contains kale and collard greens. A wall of flowering pink salvia are the background of the image.

Enhanced resilience

Aloe vera also contains enzymes and plant hormones that help to reduce transplant shock, and boost the plant’s resilience to drought, stress, and disease. For instance, the high levels of acemannan and saponin found in aloe vera both provide antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. This helps to protect plants from pathogens including harmful microbes, fungus, yeast, mold, or blight.

Last but not least, the high levels of salicylic acid naturally found in aloe vera plays a big role in its healing powers! You’ve probably heard of salicylic acid before; it’s commonly found in skincare products to fight blemishes. In a similar manner, salicylic acid enhances the plant’s version of an immune system (known as the systemic immune response or SAR) that will help them fend off disease. 

The combination of all these things leads to happier, healthier plants that are more resilient to disease, pest pressure, as well as environmental stresses like transplanting, drought, chilling, heat, soil-borne contaminants, and more. Resilient plants require far less fussing and frustration, so you’ll be much happier too!

A large glass beaker is sitting on the edge of a raised garden bed. It is full of aloe vera fertilizer that is light green in color with a foamy white froth sitting on top. Beyond lies a bed of newly transplanted pepper seedlings.
Watering freshly transplanted seedlings with homemade aloe vera fertilizer.

Using Aloe Vera Fertilizer in the Garden

First, what type of aloe should we use to make fertilizer? It is best to use Aloe barbadensis if possible; the only edible and most medicinal variety of aloe vera. That is what we grow, shown throughout this article. However, while it is not edible, Aloe chinensis has many medicinal properties and is often sold for topical use to treat burns, insect bites, and other skin ailments too. It’s easy to confuse the two, so check out this guide to learn the difference. I suspect it is okay to water plants with an A. chinesis solution, but I would avoid spraying it on the edible portion of your plants.

Now, there are two main ways to feed plants with aloe vera fertilizer: through a soil drench, or applied as a foliar spray. The most simple method is to blend aloe vera in water, dilute it further, and then use the solution to water plants (aka, as a soil drench). The plants then soak up all the goodies through their root system. In contrast, you can spray dilute aloe vera directly on plant leaves. Foliar sprays enable plants to readily absorb nutrients directly into their vascular system, though it takes a little more effort to prepare and apply.

How to Make an Aloe Vera Soil Drench

It’s incredibly simple to make homemade aloe vera fertilizer to use as a soil drench. Essentially, all you have to do is toss some aloe vera in a blender with water! If you’re using fresh aloe vera leaves, you don’t even need to remove the skin or extract the inner gel. 

Use about ¼ cup to ½ cup of fresh aloe vera per gallon of water total. A little goes a long way! (To be honest, we don’t measure but do try to estimate in that ballpark.) We’ll begin by creating a smaller concentrated batch of aloe vera in the blender and then further dilute it before applying it in the garden. So, calculate based on the total volume you plan to make. For example, we blend about 2 large aloe vera leaves (or 4 – 5 small leaves) to make a 5 gallon bucket of finished aloe vera fertilizer. 

Before getting started, keep in mind that it is best to use homemade aloe vera fertilizer within 20 minutes of mixing it. Once cut, processed, and exposed to air, fresh aloe vera quickly ferments and begins to degrade.

DeannaCat is holding a handful of six large aloe vera leaves, she has them splayed out as one would a deck of cards. Below lies paver lined gravel pathways and various perennial plants growing in zones. Purple and magenta salvias, yellow yarrow, ale vera, and lavender are the plants nearest. Use fresh aloe for aloe vera fertilizer.
This is (about) the amount of fresh aloe we’d use to make two 5-gallon buckets of finished aloe vera fertilizer. (The reddish leaves are just sunburned, but are the same variety of aloe)

Using whole fresh aloe vera leaves:

  • Harvest one to several aloe vera leaves, depending on the size batch you’re making. To harvest fresh aloe vera, take the oldest, outermost leaves from the plant. Holding the leaf near the base of the plant, gently pull while rocking back and forth until it peels away. Or, use a knife to cut the leaves off near the base. 

  • Cut the aloe vera leaves into several chunks and add them to a blender half-full of water. (The solution has a tendency to foam up, so leave some space for expansion.) Again, we don’t bother removing the skin. Blend until thoroughly combined.

  • Next, pour the blended aloe vera solution into a larger volume of water to dilute it to the desired concentration. We typically add one blender full of aloe into one or two 5-gallon buckets of water. See the photos below.

  • Finally, give a little love to each plant! Much like compost tea, apply approximately half a cup up to 2 cups of aloe vera fertilizer to each plant, scaling up or down depending on the size of the plant. When planting a new tree, we’ll give it up to a gallon! There is no risk of overdoing it, so “eyeballing it” is perfectly acceptable. Sometimes we add the finished solution into a watering can to apply to the garden. Other times, I use a large beaker or 2-cup measuring cup to scoop portions out of the main bucket.

  • Tip: I find it’s best to water with aloe vera soon after the plants receive their routine water (the same day or next day) so that the soil is moist, readily accepts the aloe drench, and won’t need to be watered again for another couple days – giving the aloe some time to soak in and do it’s thing!

The inside of a blender is shown with chunks of aloe sitting in a small amount of water.
Ready to blend
DeannaCat holds a blender full of blended aloe vera fertilizer liquid. Two buckets of water lie below for the concentrated liquid. Beyond lies the front yard garden full of flowering perennials, raised garden beds full of vegetables, and a back drop of more flowering perennials in front of trellises full of vines that have turned into a privacy screen or wall.
Blended, ready to dilute – split between the two 5-gallon buckets of water
DeannaCat is pouring the frothy aloe vera fertilizer into a 5 gallon bucket mostly full of rain water.
Diluting the concentrated blended aloe with more water

No fresh aloe?

If you don’t have fresh aloe vera leaves on hand, create a similar solution by combining about ⅛ tsp of aloe vera powder per 1 gallon of water. Note that aloe vera powders come in varying concentrations, so when in doubt, follow the instructions provided on the package. (We use this 200x concentrated freeze-dried aloe vera powder.) Theoretically, I suppose you could even follow the same instructions described above (for fresh leaves) using bottled aloe vera gel instead, but ensure it’s 100% pure aloe vera – not something with a bunch of other ingredients and preservatives.

When to use aloe vera soil drench

We use homemade aloe vera fertilizer to water young seedlings, sometimes mixed with a little splash of seaweed extract too. Our indoor-raised seedlings get their first aloe and/or seaweed drink a few weeks after sprouting, repeated once or twice before they’re transplanted outside (about once per month). It’s so gentle and mild that it poses no risk of burning seedlings like other fertilizers can! Additionally, you can pre-moisten seed starting soil with aloe vera solution to aid in germination.

Another ideal time to use aloe vera fertilizer is after transplanting – for new seedlings, shrubs, or even trees! Simply water them with the aloe solution after planting. Mycorrhizae is another fantastic aid for plant growth and transplant shock, which we also use when transplanting seedlings. You can also use aloe vera fertilizer to nourish established plants, especially for any that seem stressed – or those you want to spoil. For example, we water our cannabis plants weekly with aloe vera powder (200x freeze-dried aloe vera) dissolved in water throughout the entire growing season. 

Related articles: Indoor Seed Starting 101 and Tips for Transplanting Seedlings Outside

DeannaCat is holding a beak full of fresh aloe vera fertilizer. Its frothy contents are on part of her hand. Beyond lies raised garden beds full of peppers, squash, basil, and garlic.
A modest serving for each freshly-transplanted seedling.

How to Make and Use Aloe Vera Foliar Spray

Mixing the foliar spray

Just like the soil drench, you can create an aloe vera foliar spray using either fresh aloe vera leaves, pure bottled gel, or powder mixed with water.  Use the same dilution ratios: about ¼ cup of pure aloe vera gel per 1 gallon of water, or 1/8 tsp of dry aloe powder. We mix the powder and water right in the sprayer, shaking vigorously to combine.

As you may imagine, using whole aloe leaves can easily clog your sprayer. Therefore, it’s necessary to remove the skin and use only the inner gel portion of the leaf. Watch the video below to see how to easily extract the gel from an aloe vera leaf. In summary: slice off the ribs along the outer edges of the leaf, carefully peel away the top (flatter) portion of the skin, and then use a spoon to scoop out the inner clear gel. Thoroughly combine the gel with water in a blender first (blend it a lot!), and then dilute it with more water as needed in your sprayer.

Applying aloe vera foliar spray

It’s best to apply foliar sprays (of any kind) in the very early morning hours, or after sunset in the evening. Avoid wetting leaves when the plant is receiving direct sunlight, as it can increase the risk of sunburn or scorched leaves. Give your sprayer full of aloe vera fertilizer a good final shake – and then spray away! Thoroughly wet the leaves until the point of dripping. Make an effort to get the undersides of the leaves as well. Re-apply on a weekly basis for plants you’re giving extra-special attention to (e.g. cannabis) or monthly for general garden care. You can also add a bit of aloe powder to other foliar spray treatments, such as when applying neem oil.

A half cup stainless steel measuring cup is full to the brim with aloe vera gel. Below lies a cutting board and chefs knife with the leftover aloe vera peels after the gel has been extracted.
The inner aloe vera gel after the leaf skin was removed. We do the same process when we make homemade hand sanitizer.

So easy, right? And oh-so good.

Alright folks, I hope you enjoyed this lesson on how to make your own natural, homemade fertilizer using aloe vera. I bet your plants will enjoy it even more! As you can see, it’s a very simple process – minimal effort for maximum results. Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments below. If you found this information to be valuable, please share or pin the article to spread the love. Cheers, to plants feeding plants!

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DeannaCat signature, keep on growing


  • Patrick Monk

    Loving your site. White Cabbage Moth Butterflies can be particularly harmful. Missed the signsa few years ago and had a problem. Any suggestions. Don’t want to harm other species like American Ladiea, they make me dream of Monarchs. Pat.

  • John G

    I like the aloe vera idea. Can I use the 1/8 teaspoom of powder to one gallon mixture along with my dry organic fertilizers from Fox Farms? Or should I use the aloe vera just by itself?

  • Aliko

    Wow! DeannaCat I never even heard of this wonder use of aloe vera until I read your article. I have learnt a lot from you and hope to continue to learn more from you.
    Thanks so much. Infact, I have fallen in ‘love’ with you.

  • Arthur

    I grow a lot of aloe vera’s in my garden and I had no clue that it can likewise be utilized as compost. On account of this article, it is exceptionally useful.

  • Nikki

    Hello. I just want to say I love your site. I’m trying to create a recipe calculator based on size of grow pot. When watering plants or giving them different nourishment how much should I give each plant? Above you mentioned .5 to 2 cups per plant but it doesn’t say what size pot you are using.

    Thank you.

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hi Nikki, thank you for reading and your support! It really depends on the type of plant you are watering, if you are watering basil or pepper plants, using the lower end of the spectrum is advisable, if you are watering tomatoes you can use the higher end. Just an estimate, but I would go with at least a half cup per 5 gallon pot, so a 15 gallon pot can use 1.5 to 2 cups of homemade aloe tea.

      • Nikki

        thank you for your quick response. Would you also use a half cup per 5 gallon pot? In addition, would this be the standard for other teas, compost or just watering with silica and aloe?

        Thanks again.

        • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

          With compost tea as well as the botanical teas that we detail in the How to Feed Cannabis, Organically: Top-Dressings, Teas, & More! article, you can water as litle or as much as you like. Compost tea and the botanical tea (if made with the proper proportions) are both mild enough to thoroughly water most plants no matter the pot size. However, if you have a larger garden, we typically use less amounts of the teas and use them as an addition to the regular watering instead of the sole watering for that particular day. We would have to make more tea than we have the space for. Also, the silica and aloe watering that we describe in the cannabis articles are meant to be for the entire water, not only 1/2 cup or so. It gets confusing but when we water our entire garden we use smaller amounts per plant or pot because we need the tea to cover more space. Whereas, if you are watering a few pots you can use the entire tea. It also depends on the plant as well, smaller plants will need less water or tea than larger more thirsty plants. Hope that helps and good luck!

  • Zoe

    Do you use imperial gallons in all your recipes or US gallons?
    How many liters are there in 1 gallon that you use?
    Thank you!

    • DeannaCat

      Hi Debbie – Yes, we do – since they offer different benefits! We use the myco around the root ball to add beneficial fungi to the plant root system and soil (which will last all growing season), while the aloe vera provides more in the way of nutrients (but won’t have quite the same long-lasting effects). I hope that helps! Happy gardening.

  • Patty

    Is Aloe Vera better than using mycorrhizae? Would you use both? It seems they do the same thing. Is one better for some type of plants then others?

    • DeannaCat

      Hi Patty – I see how the benefits sound similar (reduced transplant shock, extra nutrition, etc) but they do work quite differently, so yes, we use both! The mycorrhizae is beneficial fungi that bind to the root system and help the plant better utilize nutrients in the soil, but isn’t a fertilizer itself. The mycorrhizae will live on the plant roots all growing season, so they have a nice long-lasting impact! On the other hand, the aloe vera solution gives the plants a shorter-term boost of nutrients and enzymes, and offers the various benefits we explained in this article. You can think of aloe vera as the food, but the mycorrhizae as the spoon – part of the delivery system! I hope that makes sense. Thanks so much for reading!

  • Laura

    So helpful! I’ve been wanting to put my aloe vera plant to use for some time now, but I wasn’t really sure what to do with it. I’m so glad I read this first because I didn’t realize there were two different types of aloe vera. It turns out I have Aloe chinesis, the non-edible variety, so good thing I never tried consuming it! I’m excited to try a soil drench on my houseplants though, and maybe I will get an Aloe barbadensis plant in the future!

  • Tanu

    Wow! I had NO idea there was an inedible version of aloe vera. We have both on our property and I’ve definitely consumed chinensis in smoothies :(. Will use the rest of them as fertilizer for our flower garden and replace with barbadensis. Thank you!

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