My aloe plants always die. How should I care for these plants?
—Gwinette Goldstein, Warrenville, SC
Aloes are generally undemanding, but be careful not to overwater them. Plant your aloe in fresh, porous potting mix that drains well. Water thoroughly, then wait until the soil is quite dry before watering again. Pour out excess water from the saucer after a few minutes so it doesn’t wick back into the soil.
Since you’ve had trouble in the past, start with a clean container. You can either buy a new pot with good drainage holes or disinfect an old container. To disinfect a used pot, scrub it thoroughly, then soak it for 30 minutes in a 10 percent bleach solution (one part liquid chlorine bleach to nine parts room-temperature water).
Keep your aloe by a bright, sunny window. It needs bright light most of the day, with at least a little direct sun. Fertilize sparingly when days are long. Don’t fertilize at all in winter unless your aloe is growing actively.