In this article I cover everything you need to know about aloe plant soil. I let you know what the best type of soil is for aloe plants, especially indoor houseplants, and also give you a recipe so you can mix your own soil for these beautiful flowering succulents. I also give advice on the best type of pots for aloe plants as the correct soil is useless without the correct pot.
Aloe soil requirements
Aloe plants are succulents that are are native to tropical parts of Africa, Madagascar, Jordan, the Arabian Peninsula and various islands in the Indian Ocean such as Mauritius, Réunion and Comoros.
The aloe plant has evolved to thrive in some very uninhabitable environments such as very warm and water-scare deserts. This hardy plant has become well adapted to sit in full sun with very little water for prolonged periods of time while it stills produces beautiful flowering blooms. In fact aloe is such a hardy plant that it can grow in rocky gardens and very sandy soil.
There are 500 different species of aloe plants many of which are grown as houseplants. The most popular aloe houseplant is aloe vera.
Aloe is a perennial tropical succulent that will bloom every year under the right conditions. Those conditions include having the right soil.
Be aware that there are several things you need to incorporate into your care routine if you want a healthy aloe plant. Before I delve deeper into the soil requirements for aloe plants I will briefly outline the other main, and just as important, requirements of an aloe plant.
Basic aloe care requirements
As well as having the correct type of soil aloe plants need the following:
- The correct watering care. By far the biggest problems I have ever seen with aloe plants is overwatering. These plants can grow well and healthy being watered only once every 3 weeks. See our aloe watering care guide. This is why it is important to use a soil that has very good drainage.
- Aloe plants are desert succulents that have adapted to thrive in full sun. An aloe can tolerate indirect sun but it will never bloom. For a healthy plant you need to ensure your aloe gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. See our aloe light guide.
If you follow the guidelines for watering your aloe plant and ensure it gets the correct amount of light (and the right type of light), along with the correct soil and a warm environment you will have a healthy plant that blooms year-on-year with very little effort from you. These are easy-care plants that make the perfect houseplants.
Now let’s look at the specifics of the soil you need for your aloe plants.
What kind of soil for aloe plant?
So what is the best kind of soil for an aloe plant?
Being a desert succulent the aloe plant has adapted to growth in a sandy-type of soil. Cactus or succulent soil works best with aloe plants. Regular potting mix on its own is too rich for aloe plants though you can add perlite and regular building sand to it, to make it more habitable to an aloe plant.
Although you can mix perlite and building sand with regular potting mix to create a suitable soil for aloe plants (I show you how to do this later in this article) it is much easier to simply buy cactus or succulent soil. This cactus soil not only works well for all succulents but because it is also fast-draining is reduces the risk of water-drenched soil – aloe react poorly to sitting in water and very wet soil. I believe that it is by far the best soil for aloe indoor plants.
Alternatively a regular succulent soil, such as this stuff, will also work well for aloe plants also. The key is to ensure the soil is not rich but neither should it be too dry. It also needs to be able to drain moisture well.
Be aware that all aloe plants need the same care routine and have the same basic requirements, from watering to light and soil.
So the soil recommendations I am giving for aloe houseplants in general is also the best soil for aloe vera indoors plants. In short: regardless of which type of aloe plant you have my soil recommendations, my DIY soil mix recipe or local soil products with similar ingredients, will be the best choice for your aloe plant.
Aloe vera soil mix recipe
To create your own aloe soil mix you should use the following three ingredients:
- Regular potting soil.
- Building sand.
Potting soil on its own is far too rich for aloe plants but it can be used as a good foundation for creating your own DIY aloe soil mix.
Along with a good quality potting mix you will need some good quality perlite and regular cheap sand. By adding perlite and sand you will dilute the richness of the regular potting soil and make it more habitable for aloe plants which naturally prefer desert soil conditions. You will also create a soil mix that has good drainage and will not retain water.
Combine the ingredients to the following recipe for the best DIY aloe soil mix:
- 1 part regular potting mix.
- 2 parts sand.
- 1 part perlite.
As you can see the mixture is very sand heavy and this will help keep the soil fairly dry and dilute the amount of nutrients in the potting mix (regular potting mix is far too rich in nutrients for aloe plants).
The perlite in the soil mix acts as an agent to aid with water drainage. Remember aloe plants do not like to sit in water or water-drenched soil and leaving your plant in these conditions will lead to root rot (see our guide to fixing aloe vera root rot for more about this as the information applies just as well to all aloe plants).
Best pots for aloe plants
Now that you understand the soil requirements for an aloe plant you need to know what type of pot to use. Using the correct soil with the wrong pot can be just as bad as using the wrong soil!
I find that the best pots for aloe plants are terracotta houseplant pots. The pot must have good drainage. Pots can range in size from a 3″ diameter pot for smaller plants or offsets up to 20″ diameter pots or even larger for big mature plants. Be aware that you also need to use a good draining soil.
Terracotta pots are always my first choice for aloe plants, especially aloe houseplants. Terracotta pots are much better than plastic or ceramic for water drainage and naturally act to maintain good humidity levels as they “sweat” moisture.
Although I much prefer terracotta pots for aloe plants because these succulents require very little watering and should be watered from the bottom, self-watering pots are also a good choice. Self-watering pots can also help maintain good humidity levels around your plant.
However, no matter how attractive a self-watering pot looks it will never look as good as terracotta, at least in my opinion. Terracotta just blends in with and complements the desert nature of an aloe plant.
Best pots for large aloe vera plants
What if you have very large aloe plants or want to encourage your small aloe houseplant or new offsets to grow large … what pots should you use?
I find that 6″ – 20″ diameter terracotta pots work really well for large aloe vera plants or for encouraging growth in a smaller plant. The pot must have good drainage and be either self-watering or should include a tray or saucer.
I use this specific terracotta pot for very large plants of all kinds and because it is self-watering it is perfect for large succulents like aloe plants. The pot waters the aloe from the bottom (always the preferred way to water these succulents) and being made from terracotta it drains moisture quickly and helps maintain good humidity levels directly around the plant. It also does not need an additional tray.
Do aloe vera pots need drainage?
Do the type of pots you grow aloe plants in need to have drainage or can you use a pot with no holes?
Aloe plants absolutely need good drainage. Aloe plants will develop root rot if left to sit in water drenched soil. Therefore it is essential an aloe plant is placed in a pot that has very good drainage. It is also essential the pot contains succulent-friendly soil that also drains well.
If you found this article to be informative and it helped answer your questions regarding aloe plant soil then you may also be interested in reading our guide to cutting aloe plants especially if you want to harvest the latex from aloe vera leaves or you plant to propagate new aloe houseplants from your existing plants.