The Perfect Soil Mix for Aloe Plants

aloe vera plants growing outdoors in a purple/blue pot

If you’re a fan of Aloe vera plants like me, you know that finding the right soil mix is crucial for their health and growth. In this article, I’ll share my insights on planting Aloe vera in pots and the ideal potting mix to use.

Aloe vera is a succulent plant that thrives in containers, whether indoors or outdoors. Its unique makeup, with water-storing leaves and thick, fibrous roots, demands specific care to prevent rotting and ensure proper drainage.

To start, let’s delve into the best practices for planting Aloe vera in pots.

Planting Aloe Vera In Pots

a very large aloe vera plant growing outdoors planted in a blue pot

The first step in planting Aloe vera is choosing the right time. Spring and summer are ideal, while early fall is suitable for temperate climates. Avoid planting during late fall or winter when the plant is in a resting phase.

When it comes to pot selection, Aloe vera is versatile and can adapt to different types of containers. Clay or terra cotta pots are excellent choices, thanks to their porosity and ability to provide better airflow for the roots. However, ceramic pots are also visually appealing and come in various styles and colors. Even heavy-duty plastic pots can work well, as long as they have proper drainage holes.

In terms of pot size, it’s essential to consider the plant’s dimensions. A generally recommended guideline is to choose a pot that allows the Aloe vera to comfortably spread its roots. For instance, a 4-inch Aloe vera might require an 8-inch pot, while a 5-gallon Aloe can grow in a 20-inch pot.

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The Perfect Soil Mix

Choosing the right soil mix is crucial for Aloe vera plants because it ensures proper drainage and aeration. A well-draining mix prevents the soil from becoming waterlogged, reducing the risk of root rot.

In the past, I used a locally produced organic succulent and cactus mix, which consisted of pumice, coconut coir chips, and compost. However, I now make my own mix, recommended by soil expert Mark Dimmitt. This DIY succulent and cactus mix is composed of coco chips, coconut coir, pumice, vermiculite, agricultural lime, and elemite. It works wonders for both indoor and outdoor plantings.

If you don’t have access to this specific mix, you can opt for a straight succulent and cactus mix or a blend of 1/2 succulent and cactus mix with 1/2 potting soil. The addition of perlite or pumice helps improve aeration and drainage in regular potting soil.

It’s worth noting that succulent and cactus mixes vary among brands, with some being heavier than others. If you find your mix lacking drainage and lightness, you can incorporate pumice, perlite, or lava rock to enhance those properties. Compost or worm compost can also be added for nutrition.

Where to Find Succulent Mix & Amendments

up close of a large aloe vera outdoors planted in pot

When it comes to purchasing succulent mix and amendments, many nurseries and garden centers offer them. If you don’t have access to physical stores, you can find various options online.

Some reputable brands for succulent mixes include Dr. Earth, EB Stone, Bonsai Jack, and Tanks’. Superfly Bonsai is excellent for indoor succulents, while Cactus Cult and Hoffman’s provide cost-effective solutions for larger containers. Most of these mixes and amendments come in small-sized bags, suitable for limited storage space or a small collection of succulents.

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For mix amendments, popular options to lighten the mix include pumice, perlite, and lava rock. For nutrition, worm compost and regular compost can be used.

Repotting Aloe Vera

It’s important to note that Aloe vera plants prefer to be slightly rootbound, so you don’t need to rush to repot them. However, if your plant has outgrown its current pot or if you notice its weight causing instability, it’s time to consider repotting.

A general guideline is to repot Aloe vera every 4-5 years. When repotting, be sure to choose a larger pot size and create a fresh soil mix. This will provide the necessary space for your plants to grow and spread.

How to Split Aloe Vera

If you’re interested in expanding your Aloe vera collection, you can propagate the plant by separating the plant’s pups from the mother plant. Pups are small offsets that grow attached to the base of the main plant.

To separate the pups, gently pull them apart with your hands if they are small enough. For larger plants with dense root balls, a sharp knife or a trowel can be used. Don’t worry if the division isn’t perfectly even or if a leaf or two is lost in the process — Aloe vera is resilient and can handle some damage.

Planting Your Aloe Vera

To plant your Aloe vera, ensure the plant is adequately watered (but not soaking wet) before the process. Choose a pot with proper drainage holes, remove the plant from its current pot, and massage the roots gently to loosen them.

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Fill the new pot with the appropriate amount of soil mix, leaving the root ball slightly elevated above the pot’s rim to account for settling. Place the plant in the pot, adjust the soil level if necessary, and fill in the gaps with the soil mix. Adding small amounts of compost during planting and as topdressing can provide additional nutrition.

How to Care for Aloe Vera After Planting

Signed by Nell Foster

After planting your Aloe vera, provide bright indirect light and avoid direct sunlight, especially for newly repotted plants. If your Aloe vera is an indoor houseplant, place it in a spot with bright light but no direct sun.

Water your Aloe vera thoroughly after a week or so, adjusting the watering frequency based on temperature and soil dryness. Remember that Aloe vera prefers dryer conditions, so avoid overwatering to prevent soil saturation.

By following these tips, you can successfully plant Aloe vera in pots and enjoy their unique beauty and health benefits. Whether you’re a seasoned succulent enthusiast or a beginner gardener, Aloe vera is a fantastic addition to any collection.

Happy gardening!

Ames Farm Center