With their fleshy, serrated leaves and wide range of colors, aloe vera plants make attractive indoor houseplants with lots of symbolic value. Not only do they look good, but aloe plants also have a range of medicinal uses, from skin soothing to topical pain relief. Like other succulents, the aloe plant thrives in potting soil with excellent drainage. Here’s what you should know about choosing the best soil mix for your aloe plants.
- The Best Soil Mix for Aloe Plants – The Essentials
- Why Soil Choice Matters
- What are the Primary Components Used in a Potting Soil Mix?
- Common Signs You’re Using the Wrong Soil Mix for Aloe Plants
- The Importance of Well-draining Potting Soil for Aloe Plants
- What pH Levels in the Soil are Best Suited to Aloe Plants?
- The Ultimate Aloe Plant Potting Mix Home Recipe
- The Best Pre-mixed Soils for Aloe Plants
- Soil Mix for Aloe Plants FAQs:
- Wrapping Up
The Best Soil Mix for Aloe Plants – The Essentials
Aloe vera plants require soil with exceptional drainage. The best aloe plant potting soil contains a mix of sand, perlite, pumice, and pine bark fines. Aloe vera prefers a neutral to alkaline pH, from 7.0 to 8.5, but can tolerate slightly acidic soils.
Why Soil Choice Matters
The type of soil you choose will affect your aloe plant’s ability to grow and thrive (both indoors and when you’re growing aloe plants outside). Soil is key to your plant’s health, along with other environmental factors such as humidity, light, and temperature.
What does soil provide for plants? First, good potting soil serves as a foundation for your plant, providing an anchor in which roots can grow. But soil does more than just anchor a plant in place. The right potting soil also provides nutrients, oxygen, and water that plants require. How does soil impact aloe vera health?
- Nutrients: Soil provides nutrients that plants need to survive, such as copper, nitrogen, magnesium, and phosphorus. Plants absorb minerals through their roots.
- Water: Soil is full of pores or small spaces in between particles. Pores hole water, and plants take up through their roots. The moisture then is distributed throughout the plant, along with oxygen and nutrients. Water also acts as a cooling system, keeping plants from overheating by evaporating through the foliage.
- Air: Soil pores also contain air. Aloe vera plants use air to transform sugars into energy they need to survive.
- Insulation: Soil acts as an insulator for aloe plant roots, which guards against significant temperature fluctuations.
Common Soil Bases
Soil consists of a mixture of decomposing organic matter, known as biomass, and mineral particles. Soil type is determined by particle size and mineral texture.
- Sand: Largest particles in the soil. Sandy soil drains quickly and allows for great aeration. It doesn’t hold moisture or nutrients well.
- Clay: Smallest particles in the soil. Clay soil drains very slowly and doesn’t have space for air. It does retain water and nutrients well.
- Silt: Between clay and sand particles, size-wise. Offers a good balance of water ad nutrient retention, drainage, and aeration.
Soils are defined by the mixture of the three particle sizes — sand, clay, and silt — they contain. A balanced amount of particle sizes is known as “loamy” soil.
“Peaty” soil has a higher percentage of biomass and offers drainage, moisture retention, and aeration with a more acidic pH.
“Chalky” soil drains quickly, doesn’t retain nutrients, and is more alkaline.
Plants have their own specific soil preferences, so use those to guide the type of potting soil you use.
What are the Primary Components Used in a Potting Soil Mix?
Potting soil mix has several components. The blend you choose determines how the soil:
- holds moisture
- allows water to drain
- provides nutrients
- enhances aeration
When growing aloe vera in containers, using the right potting soil mix is key to plant health. What elements does potting soil contain? Here are some common potting soil elements:
- Coco coir is a fibrous material that comes from coconut husks and helps the soil retain moisture
- Compost/organic matter or biomass is decomposed plant matter that provides nutrients; it’s been broken down by beneficial soil microbes such as bacteria and fungi.
- Perlite is a volcanic rock that increases soil moisture retention while improving drainage and aeration.
- Pine bark fines are small pine wood shavings that come from pine mulch; fines enhance drainage and lower soil pH.
- Pumice is a lightweight volcanic rock that improves drainage and aeration
- Rocks/pebbles allow plant roots to seek out space
- Sand helps soil drain more efficiently
- Soil activator speeds up the decomposition rate of biomass
- Sphagnum peat moss comes from bogs and wetlands; this decayed moss enhances moisture retention and drainage while lowering soil pH
- Vermiculite is a natural mineral that improves aeration and helps soil retain more moisture and nutrients
Common Signs You’re Using the Wrong Soil Mix for Aloe Plants
If your aloe vera plant’s leaves start to yellow — especially if the plants are in direct sun exposure — the soil may be too dry. Add a bit of perlite to improve moisture retention without compromising drainage.
Like most other succulents, aloe vera plants are susceptible to root rot if the soil is too moist. If leaves discolor and feel “squishy,” your soil may not be draining well enough. Add sand or pumice to improve drainage.
The Importance of Well-draining Potting Soil for Aloe Plants
Proper drainage is essential to aloe vera health. In their natural habitat, these succulents grow in sandy, gritty soils with low nutrients. Replicating these conditions for indoor plantings is key.
That means choosing a well-draining potting soil. A blend of sand, pumice, perlite, and pine bark fines is a good start. You may also choose a succulent/cactus potting soil mix.
What pH Levels in the Soil are Best Suited to Aloe Plants?
Aloe vera plants grow best in slightly alkaline soil, with a pH from 7.0 to 8.5. However, they also grow in neutral to slightly acidic soil with a pH from 7.0 to 6.5.
The Ultimate Aloe Plant Potting Mix Home Recipe
The ultimate potting mix home recipe for aloe plants contains:
- 1 part loam
- 1 part sand
- 1 part pumice
- 1 part perlite
- 1 handful pine bark fines
Simply combine all the ingredients in a large container. When mixing, you may want to add a bit of water to bind the components together, but be careful not to overwater. Always err on the dry side when making potting soil for aloe vera plants.
The Best Pre-mixed Soils for Aloe Plants
If you simply want to use pre-mixed soil for your aloe plants, you’re in luck. Potting soil for cactus and succulents is a great choice. Appropriate options include:
- Hoffman Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix
- Perfect Plants All Natural Succulent and Cactus Soil Mix
- Espoma Organic Cactus Mix
If you’re looking for a new aloe plant that arrives potted, composed and ready-to-go on delivery, see our guide to the best aloe plant delivery services.
(Editors Note: Petal Republic participates in partnership programs with Amazon and other merchants to help connect readers with relevant products and services we may recommend).
Soil Mix for Aloe Plants FAQs:
How often should I switch soil for my Aloe Plant?
If your plant looks leggy or has outgrown its pot, that’s a good time to repot your aloe in a new container with fresh potting soil. However, don’t repot in a too-large container, as the soil may retain too much water for the aloe.
Can I use cactus soil for Aloe Plants?
Cactus and succulent soil is an excellent choice for aloe vera plants.
Do aloe plants like wet or dry soil?
Aloe plants require soil with excellent drainage, so err on the side of dry soil. Aloe plants do not like wet soil.
What are the primary considerations for soil when repotting Aloe Plants?
When repotting an aloe plant, choose potting soil with excellent drainage. Aloe roots need plenty of aeration and don’t like to be wet.
Does the size of the plant affect the soil mix for Aloe Plants?
No, aloe plants require the same soil mix, regardless of size.
Does the potting container influence the type of soil mix for Aloe Plants?
Aloe plants thrive in pots made from terra cotta or other porous material that allow the soil to dry. If your aloe is planted in a non-porous container, you may want to add extra perlite and pumice to ensure proper drainage.
Do Aloe plants need deep potting containers?
Containers should be as deep as they are wide and deep enough so the aloe stem can be buried in the soil.
Aloe plants are an attractive choice for indoor gardens. Their fleshy foliage and serrated edges add structural interest to any room. Aloe plants should thrive when planted in suitable soil —a loose, well-aerated mix that drains easily.
For more, see our in-depth guide on where to position Aloe plants in the home for optimal growth and Feng Shui benefits.
Linsay is an American copywriter based in the Pacific Northwest with a background in academic writing and research. Linsay holds Master's degree in both Anthropology and Library and Information Sciences and has written for numerous national and international publications including USA Today, SFGATE, Hunker, and The Bump across an array of topics in the gardening, green living, and travel sectors. When she's not writing, you'll usually find Linsay reading, kayaking, sailing, snowboarding, or working in her garden.