Let’s play a little game. When you think of “succulent plants,” what do you think of? Probably where they can be found: Africa. Now think about Africa. What comes to mind? More likely than not, you’ll brainstorm adjectives about the African environment: hot, arid, sandy soil. Am I right? When I first heard that aloe vera plants were native to the African continent, I made assumptions about what growing conditions they would need to thrive in a North American home. I’ll keep my house warm and sit my plant in sand, I reasoned to myself.
But I was not entirely correct in guessing that aloes grow best in settings that mimic the harsh African climate–especially when it comes to picking out the perfect soil. Stick an aloe into a pot full of sand, and you’ll realize you made a bad move soon enough! Although used to the rocky, nutrient-depleted soil of Africa, aloes do not do well in an all-sand soil, especially if it isn’t even the right type of sand (who knew there were multiple types of sand out there!). What your aloe needs is a potting soil mixture that includes sand but is not entirely sand. Get the sand situation right, and your aloe will get the nutrients and water it needs to not only live but thrive in your home.
Potting Soil for Aloe Plants: Do’s and Don’ts
DON’T fill your pot entirely with sand.
Do make a half-and-half mixture of equal parts potting soil and sand.
DON’T use fine sands in your soil concoction. If you use sands like play sand (that stuff you typically find in a child’s sandbox at the playground), you will place your soil into too compacted of a ground. When your aloe’s roots are not allowed room to breathe, water will not drain properly from the container. An overwatered aloe could result!
Do use a more coarse, rocky sand. Something like builder’s sand will do just fine!
DON’T leave you aloe in the same soil if you repot it. Transfer only your plant to the new pot, not that old soil. Your aloe sucked out much of the nutrients already, and it needs a new supply–that’s part of the reason why you are repotting it! Leftovers = not a good idea.
Do replace the soil with new soil when repotting.
Now that you are updated on all the ins and outs of soil (who knew there would be so many rules!), you can confidently go forth and plant that aloe correctly! Enjoy its flowers!
So should I mix soil and sand or do two separate layers?
Thanks so much for the helpful information. I’ll try to separate them tomorrow and replant them.
Hi, can I use perlite half and potting soil half?
I second this question. I bought a soil from walmart labeled “succulent, cactus, palms”. It does look anything like sand period. And I’m stalling using it out of fear. I know there are dud products out there. Although it is light and drain well enough. Since this is my third attempt at an aloe I’m eager to do it right. Mind you, i would have bought sand and mixed it for myself. But I have zero interest in lugging a 50 pound bag home only to use 2 cups worth and have nowhere to store left overs.
Ali aleo says
Perlite is toxic be careful It’s a acceptable replacement for builders sand -my opinion aleo hobbyist
Charlene Crandall says
Can I use regular potting soil mixed with very small decorative gravel, or is it s must that it is sand? Also does the pot need drainage? or is a closed pot sufficient, and how often for watering?
Fasma Uddin says
Where can I get the sand from I live I UK n most places only sell in large quantities in tried b&q but I don’t need that much surely plus I have no room to store a huge amount like that