When I think of an aloe, I picture it’s long, thick green leaves and beautiful flowers. The last thing that crosses my mind? Its roots. Hidden beneath a pile of soil and a pot, an aloe’s roots often go unnoticed and under-appreciated. But aloe roots might just be the most important part of an aloe, responsible for grounding it, delivering water and nutrients to its leaves and flowers, and controlling just how much it grows. With a shallow root system (they grow horizontally rather than vertically), the aloe also has interesting roots. So don’t you think they deserve some attention and care? It is easy to assume that an aloe roots take care of themselves, as they take care of the rest of the plant, but you do have to bother with them from time to time. Add aloe root care to your normal aloe maintenance routine!
Pots that Cater to Aloe Roots
Let’s start at the beginning: what type of pot is best for aloe roots? Because aloe plants have horizontal root systems, aloe’s do best in small, wide pots. You want aloe roots to fit snugly into its new home (they should take up about 2/3 of the container), as this will help prevent overwatering. The more unused soil there is (i.e., soil without roots running through it), the more likely it will be to retain water, potentially leading to root rot and even plant death. Remember that aloe’s do not need a lot of water to begin with, so you want to make sure your pot size is not too big and not too small but just right so you can help keep that watering in check.
The Best Potting Soil for Aloe Roots
Aloe roots do better in some potting soil than others. Be sure to avoid planting it in straight sand, especially if it is the wrong type of sand to begin with. Aloe roots will do much better in a mix of half-sand and half-potting soil. To make that mixture, you want to opt for a course sand over a fine one. Small sand will clump together easier and therefore hold moisture better, preventing excess water from draining from your aloe. The result? Overwatering! Choosing builder’s sand over something like playground sand will therefore leave your aloe roots dry, not drenched!
Trim Aloe Roots Before Repotting
You should trim your aloe roots before repotting. Trimming aloe leaves and flower buds seems normal, but aloe roots? Why would those need cutting? Here’s a few reasons why:
Trim long aloe roots, and your aloe will be
- easier to replant
- able to regrow a stronger system of roots
Since you should change the soil when repotting an aloe, you have to shake off all the old dirt from around your aloe’s roots to prepare it for a new batch of soil and source of nutrients. Your aloe roots will already be exposed, so it makes sense to do most of your aloe root care at this time. Trimming aloe roots down before you repot is also a good idea, because it will make the transplanting process a little less messy, ensuring that you are not carrying too much old dirt into the new pot. Because aloe roots will grow back, you do not need to worry about cutting them and jeopardizing the future of your plant. In fact, cutting them should give your aloe plant a brighter future, as the aloe roots should grow back better than ever! Just be careful not to overwater before they do!