What To Know About Planting Aloe Vera In Containers; Plus The Mix to Use
Aloe vera is such a useful plant to have growing in or outside your home. This guide to planting Aloe vera in containers (with a video to give you step by step) provides all you need to know. The mix you use is important & you'll find options here as well as how to maintain your Aloe vera when it's rooting in.
Aloe vera is a plant I love which I’ve always grown it in pots, both in the house and in the garden. It’s a plant that does great in containers whether in a grow pot or directly planted in. I’ve repotted it many times. Here I want to share what I’ve learned about planting Aloe vera in containers along with the mix I use plus recommendations for you.
I think the most important thing to know about planting Aloe Vera has to do with its make up. This plant is a succulent which stores water in its large fleshy leaves (we want all the gel we can get after all!) and thick, fibrous roots. It can rot out very easily and quickly when over watered and/or when the soil mix is too heavy and doesn’t readily drain.
We’re familiar with those thick, fleshy leaves but did you know the roots are the same?
Note: What I’m saying below applies to plant Aloe vera in pots whether growing outdoors or as houseplants, except where noted.
Best time to plant/transplant/repot:
The best time to plant or transplant aloe is spring & summer. I planted this pot the last week in October but I live in a warmer climate. Daytime temps are still in the 80’s here in Tucson and won’t dip low in the nighttime until mid-December. You want to give your Aloe vera at least a month or so to settle in before the days cool. Late fall/winter aren’t ideal because your plant will be resting during these times.
Here’s the mother plant & a pot of her pups before planting into the container. I had another pot of pups but gave it away. How much aloe does a girl need when each plant produces so many babies?!
Soil mix options:
I used a locally produced organic succulent & cactus mix available only in the Tucson area. It’s very chunky, drains well & is comprised of pumice, coconut coir chips & compost. I also added in a few generous handfuls of compost when planting & topped the pot with 1/8″ of worm compost. It would have been heavier but it’s late in the year. I’ll top with more worm compost & compost in early spring.
I recommend that you use straight succulent & cactus mix or 1/2 succulent & cactus & 1/2 potting soil.
For an Aloe vera houseplant, you can also use straight potting soil but perlite or pumice must be added in to aerate & amend the drainage. If you use potting soil, back off on the watering frequency because it’s a heavier mix.
Succulent & cactus mixes really vary depending on the brand.
If you think your mix needs the drainage & lightness factors elevated, then, by all means, add pumice or perlite.
You don’t need to add compost or worm compost to your mix but it’s how I feed all my container plants, both inside & out. You can read about it here.
Succulent mix/additive options to purchase online:
Bonsai Jack (this 1 is very gritty; great for those prone to overwatering!), Hoffman’s (this is more cost effective if you have larger containers but you might have to add pumice or perlite), or Superfly Bonsai (another fast draining 1 like Bonsai Jack great for indoor succulents).
The mixes & amendments used for this Aloe vera planting project. L to R: succulent & cactus mix from previous plantings (I used this to fill up that large pot halfway), that same locally produced succulent & cactus mix but new, locally produced compost & worm castings.
How to split Aloe Vera:
I was able to use the trowel to split the small rootball of the pups. You can see me doing this in the video below. I could have used a very sharp knife instead but the trowel worked just fine this time. For a larger aloe plant with a tight, tough root ball I’ve used my pruning saw.
You might lose a leaf or 2 in the process & it might not divide as evenly as you’d like but don’t don’t worry. Aloe vera has thick roots & is 1 tough cookie!
The pot of Aloe vera pups split in half.
How to Plant Your Aloe Vera:
For this, it’s best to watch the video below. Smaller Aloe vera plants will be much easier to plant/repot/transplant:
More Things Good To Know:
Be warned: When an Aloe vera leaf is broken (which can happen during the planting), a rather pungent odor is released. There’s nothing wrong with your plant, it’s just the nature of this useful, succulent beast.
Larger Aloe vera plants can be quite heavy. I had to stake mine up for a couple of weeks to keep it from toppling over & you might have to also.
On the topic of how heavy this plant is, I usually plant it up about an 1″ above the soil line. The weight will eventually sink it down a bit in the light mix.
Go up at least a pot size or 2 – from 4″ to 6″ or 8″ to 12″. Aloe vera produces a lot of pups when it’s happy & healthy & needs room to spread.
I’ve found that Aloe vera isn’t fussy a to pot size or pot material. As you see, I planted these 3 Aloe vera plants in a large pot. They’ll have plenty of room to spread.
As to material, mine are in a plastic resin pot but ceramic & terra cotta work fine too. 2 advantages to terra cotta are that the plant looks great in it & the porosity helps the roots to breathe a bit more & also get rid of minerals in the soil or water.
This plant doesn’t root very deep; the roots spread.
As Aloe vera pups are produced they grow & spread – they’ll need the width to expand. By the way, if your Aloe vera is growing indoors, it probably won’t produce babies as readily or abundantly as mine.
For me, Aloe vera has always taken root fast. I planted these plants a week ago & they’re already feeling much firmly rooted in when I pull on a leaf. I’ll remove the stakeout in a week or two.
This has nothing to do with planting but I want to share it here because I’ve gotten some questions. You might notice that the mother plant has solid green leaves whereas the pups’ are spotted. That’s an age thing – the pups will eventually most or all of their spots as time goes on.
This is how healthy Aloe vera plants should look – plump & green. You can see those spotted leaves on the younger plants here.
What To Do Right After Planting:
Mine is in the bright shade outdoors so it’s set to root in fine. You’ll want to put yours in a similar situation so the roots can anchor in without the stress of any hot sun. If your transplanted Aloe vera is a houseplant, put it in a spot with bright, natural light but no direct no sun.
I’ll water my plant after a week or so. The temps are cooler here in the Arizona desert these days but if it was summer, I’d water it after 4 days. For a houseplant growing in average temps, I’d wait a week or so.
Then, water you Aloe vera thoroughly & let it dry out before watering again.
This is an Aloe vera growing in the ground in my neighborhood. You can get an idea of how it clumps & spreads. Also, the leaves on this 1 aren’t as healthy & plump as mine. When aloe gets too much sun &/or is too dry, the leaves turn orange to bronze. Also, unusually cold nights will cause this too.
This 1 thing is true!
If you have an Aloe vera plant, then you’ll have more. They do great in containers! If you follow the tips above, you’ll have great success when it comes to planting or transplanting them. Why grow some Aloe vera and spread the love!
You can find this plant, more houseplants and lots of info in our simple and easy to digest houseplant care guide: Keep Your Houseplants Alive.
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