The Type of Soil an Aloe Vera Plant Needs to Thrive

Store-bought potting soil is loaded with nutrients to aid a plant’s growth and development. But this type of soil is still not good enough for the picky aloe vera.

The Natural Habitat of the Aloe Vera

Native to Africa, the aloe vera is accustomed to living in dry, rocky, and open areas, exposed to high intensity sunlight and heat. Its fleshy leaves that retain water, horizontally growing roots to catch the scarce water, and sometimes prickly exterior are all adaptations that help the plant survive in these extreme conditions. Because the aloe vera is not evolutionarily equipped to survive in wetter, colder climates, you need to accommodate the plants’ needs when growing it in your own home. To do so, you will want to plant your aloe vera in soil that best mimics the dirt found out in the desert: sandy, rocky soil that has a low water content.

Soil Recommendations:

Here are a few mixtures you can create to give your soil the desert feel an aloe vera prefers:

1. Half Potting Soil, Half Sand: Perhaps the easiest and cheapest solution to your aloe vera soil dilemma is to simply mix your regular potting soil with the same amount of sand. You will want to use river sand, not beach sand.

2. Half Potting Soil, Half Granite Grit: Granite grit is simply crushed granite–that dark, granular igneous rock you might remember from high school earth science. Again, replacing a little bit of regular potting soil with granite grit will help meet your aloe vera plant’s special needs.

3. Equal Parts Potting Soil, Sand, and Perlite: Perlite is a volcanic rock that can expand up to twenty times its normal volume in heat. This triple ingredient recipe for aloe vera soil therefore creates soil with high moisture retention and aeration, making it ideal for plants accustomed to a desert lifestyle.

4. Potting Soil Made for Cactuses: If you visit your local gardening store, you can find many soil products lining the shelves made specifically for desert plants.

Restore the Nutrient Levels of Sandy Soils

A downside to planting an aloe vera in sandy soil is that its food supply decreases; the nutrients an aloe vera plant would normally get from regular potting soil is replaced by a low-nutrient sandy substitute. To compensate for this loss, you should regularly repot the aloe vera, revamping and restoring the soil contents. Another way to ensure your aloe vera plant gets the proper diet it needs from its soil is to fertilize it with a very dilute solution. Choices include slow-release fertilizer pellets and a balanced liquid fertilizer. Just try to avoid solving the issue of low nutrient levels by using compost, as it contains a lot of organic components and therefore increases the moisture level of the soil. The last thing you want to do it fix one problem and create another.

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  1. Gary says

    So, She has been in this pot for, gosh, 3 or 4 years. I only had standard potting soil when I got her. Should I report here in different soil? Ar stay with what I’ve got. Re-potting would be a chore since She is a whole lot of small to not very big plants covering a 14in pot. And I might do more harm than good.

  2. says

    This site tells you how to take care of the “pups” that grow from the mother plant. I just helped my grandmother repot her aloe plants and this site was helpful. Good luck!

  3. says

    I bought this because I needed to replant my aloe and I figured it couldn’t be any worse than what the aloe was planted in originally. After watering my aloe for the first time, I’m feeling very nervous about this dirt. The water pooled up on top the way it normally does with high peat potting soils. It also did not appear to be very fast draining. And after poking around in the dirt a little with a toothpick, I discovered much of the dirt underneath the wet top layer, was completely dry!!My aloe has only been in the dirt for a couple of days, so I’ll update my review if I’m proved wrong, but I really feel this dirt is an inadequate cactus/succulent potting soil. I am going to be very unhappy if this winds up killing my aloe. I am giving this product 2 stars instead of one, purely because enough time has not elapsed to truly evaluate its efficacy. But so far, I am very unhappy.UPDATE: It’s been approximately a year since I potted my aloe in this dirt, and my aloe isn’t dead, in fact it seems to be rather happy. I’m still not happy with this dirt however because I’ve had problems with the dirt compacting. When the dirt is dry it pulls away from the container. I would appreciate a looser potting soil. Because this potting soil has such a high peat content, I have to make sure to let my aloe dry out completely, even becoming a little dehydrated, before watering again. And then of course I have to soak my aloe to get it back to the right hydration. This potting soil won’t kill your plant, but definitely, if you really want your plant to thrive, invest in another brand or make your own soil.

  4. Cherie Thinn says

    I’m having prolbems with my aloe it’s outside.i don’t over water
    But it druppy and turning brown . I don’t know what to do
    Please give afvice

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  6. Nelson Opitz says

    I have two main aloe, (more of the less common types however), one of which is a giant aloe, growth only limited by the size of the pot. I used a combination of peat, perlite and vermiculite in equal amounts to create a gritty, fast draining type soil. My aloes thrived and I need to re-pot the giant one now. I do not allow my plants to have pups and as a result the mother plants get huge. In addition to not liking the looks of overgrown aloes with many pups, I like the more distinctive look of a single, large specimen plant.
    It is important to remember that aloe root systems grow horizontally in pots (rather than a deep tap root) so it is very important to get a large diameter pot rather than a deep pot for best results. The pot can not be too shallow however or you will not be able to anchor your plant as it becomes top-heavy. I like a pot 8 to 10 inches deep by 2 feet or more around for my large single specimen plants but if you are not seeking this effect an equally deep as is round plant will serve most people well.

    It is very important to know your soil’s pH. Aloes like a higher pH than most houseplants neutral to slightly alkaline, around 7 is recommended but they can take an even higher alkaline level, as much as 8 safely which is why I used vermiculite in my mix as I have soft water.

    Good Luck

  7. Cindy Opitz says

    PS: I neglected to mention, due to the lack of nutrients in my potting mix, I use a very diluted fertilizer, 1/4 of the rec. amount during growing season once a month. I also re-pot yearly.

  8. Bea says

    I’ve had an aloe plant my dad sent to me from Texas maybe 10 years ago. I’m in Michigan so I keep it indoors. I use the leaves for health care…in a green drink. I also apply it on my face daily. As a result the stalk is getting taller but the leaves are now much higher on the stalk. How would I re-pot it? Do I chop it off and replant the top section only? That section would not have any roots though. Would new roots grow once in the dirt? I have never re-potted so just don’t now what to do. Any help would be appreciated.

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