Tips for Growing Aloe Vera

For success in growing aloe vera, follow these easy tips.

| December/January 2012

  • Aloe ferox, whose name fits its ferocious, barbed look, is native to South Africa.
    Photo by Marco Schmidt/Creative Commons

Aloes are easy. If you get busy and forget to water them or repot them, they’ll forgive you and get over it.

“I grow them hard,” says succulent collector Joni Pierce, meaning that her aloes don’t expect any particular pampering from her. That being said, there are optimal conditions for growing aloe at their best—certain guidelines to follow that apply to keeping many other tender succulents in containers, as well.

Here are Joni’s instructions:

Potting mix. Drainage is critical, so pot them in a gritty potting mix that lets water run off freely. She recommends a peat and perlite-based professional potting mix with additional sand or grit added. Try builder’s sand (also called sharp sand), decomposed granite, vermiculite or other mineral sands such as greensand, lava sand or basalt—all work well to increase the grittiness of the potting mix. You want small particles, not chunks, Joni says.

Pot size. “Make sure it’s not overpotted,” Joni says. Use small individual pots without too much extra soil; the roots should take up perhaps two-thirds of the pot when you first replant it, because if there aren’t sufficient roots to draw moisture it will sit in wet soil and won’t be happy. Then you can let it totally fill the pot, even to the point of looking root-bound, before you repot it again. “Sometimes I’ll go years without repotting,” Joni says. It’s fun to sometimes grow them with other succulents in dish gardens, but the collectors generally prefer one aloe, one pot.

Pot type. Aloes look great in clay or porcelain pots on the windowsills, but plastic pots are sometimes better in very warm climates like Texas. Adequate drainage holes are a must. 

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