Aloe vera is a world-renowned medicinal plant. Without any doubt, it is the most powerful skin-healing herb.
Many people choose to grow aloe vera to avoid purchasing processed products of its extracts. Others grow it to simply add some life to their houses and gardens.
Regardless of the reasons behind growing aloe vera, many gardeners make many mistakes while attempting to keep this herb alive. Perhaps the most troubling one is choosing the wrong potting soil for aloe vera.
Growing aloe vera in a soil that doesn’t suit its needs can result in its death. It’s as if you’re trying to keep a fish alive out of water.
I decided to write this article to guide you through the simple process of choosing the best potting soil for your aloe vera so that it stays healthy and happy all the time. Let’s go!
Understanding Your Aloe Vera’s Soil Needs
Before mentioning the options available to you, let’s talk a little about aloe vera. Understanding why this herb loves certain types of soil is key in our discussion!
Aloe vera is a succulent plant, which means it usually grows in extreme drought conditions. In fact, this plant is native to the Arabian Peninsula, which is a very hot and arid region.
This plant lives its life thinking that water is as rare as a diamond. For this reason, it has adapted to retain extra amounts of water to stay stable.
If you water aloe vera the same way you do with other moisture-loving herbs, it won’t understand that you’re trying to bless it and will start to wilt and then eventually die.
Similarly, your aloe vera will struggle if you’re growing it in a medium that doesn’t drain water properly, such as clay soil.
Your first priority is to find a soil that doesn’t violate aloe vera’s natural requirements. You want this plant to feel as if it’s growing in its native habitat.
Proper drainage, however, isn’t where the story ends. Good potting soil shouldn’t just be fast draining; otherwise, sand would be the ideal mix for your aloe vera.
Aloe vera also requires a rich medium to grow in, which is the beauty of potting mediums. In nature, succulent plants grow very slowly, while in pots we can make them grow as quickly as possible.
Since nutrient-rich organic matter traps a lot of water, you need to find the perfect balance between draining materials and moisture-retaining organic matter for your aloe vera to stay happy.
On the other hand, aloe vera is susceptible to some pests and diseases, so you also need to make sure that you’re using a premium quality potting soil that is prepared to fight off things that can harm the plant.
All in all, your aloe vera should be growing in a fast-draining, rich, and clean potting soil. The absence of one of these elements could affect the herb’s growth rate or even its chances of survival.
Aloe Vera Potting Soil:
It’s time to choose your potting soil, so let’s consider the best options available.
Modified Well-Drained Potting Soil for Aloe Vera:
A regular well-drained potting soil can work for your aloe vera. You can get any premium quality, fast-draining potting soil, such as FoxFarm mix, but you need to adjust the soil’s drainage capacity.
Mixing one part sand or perlite, or any other effective draining material, with two parts well-drained potting soil produces a highly suitable medium for your aloe vera.
It’s important, however, to always purchase the best potting soil. Cheap potting mixes are full of fungus gnats and other pests. They also have a very bad texture, which breaks down after a few months, leading to excessive water retention.
I always advise my friends and family to purchase the FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil, which is a very reliable and high-quality brand of soil.
You can also visit your local store or nursery and ask them about the best potting soil they have. Be sure to avoid brands with discounts or on sale because in most cases this means the product is very poor.
Cacti and Succulents Potting Soil for Aloe Vera:
“Cacti and succulents” potting soil is hands down the best choice for your aloe vera. Since this herb is a succulent plant, there is no doubt that such a potting mix would serve its needs perfectly.
Although most succulent plants love acidic soil, this isn’t particularly the case with aloe vera. Premium brands of this soil are usually pH balanced, which is ideal for this plant.
These mixes are porous and allow water to drain quickly. At the same time, they are rich with nutrients and would allow plants to not just survive but also flourish.
Many people have reported that their aloe vera plants are happiest in this soil. As a matter of fact, I grow most of my succulent plants in this mix because then I don’t need to monitor them regularly.
Many high-quality succulent potting mixes are available in the market, such as Miracle-Gro® Cactus Palm & Citrus Potting Mix and Hoffman Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix. You can find all of these premium brands online either on Amazon or on the manufacturer’s online store.
Feeding Aloe Vera:
After you choose the soil that suits you best, you should know that nearly every plant also needs a fertilizer.
Soil amendments are especially important in the case of aloe vera because succulent plants can grow very slowly without proper nutrition.
You should probably avoid using inorganic fertilizers, particularly with aloe vera, because they can alter the soil’s pH level heavily and unexpectedly, which may affect the plant’s health.
To be on the safe side, you should only use compost and other types of organic matter. I recommend that you focus on using worm castings or leaf compost to enrich the soil.
Important Extra Tips About Soil for Aloe Vera:
- You should repot your aloe every few months as the compost becomes exhausted. The duration between each repotting depends on how fast your aloe is growing. If it’s growing quickly, you might need to repot it every three months.
Remember that you only need to change the size of the container in case the roots are spreading all over the soil.
- You should never use the same potting soil when repotting your soil even if you add new compost to the medium.
When the potting soil has been there for a long time, the microbial ecosystem that is present in it starts to change such that beneficial microbes start to decrease and harmful ones start to proliferate.
- You can also mulch your aloe vera pots with granite or chicken grits to balance the temperature of the soil and prevent pests from laying eggs in the pots.
Most importantly, don’t use organic matter to mulch the containers because that causes more water to be retained, which may cause the roots of your aloe vera to rot.
So, that’s it! Enjoy growing and looking after your aloe vera, and don’t forget to share your questions and thoughts in the comments below!