Aloe Vera plants naturally grow in desert areas where their growing medium stays dry most of the time. So, you might be wondering which soil will be suitable for the plant when grown as houseplants.
Letting the Aloe Vera plants grow on suitable soil will keep them healthy in the long term.
The ideal soil mix for aloe vera must balance drainage and retention. You can mix potting soil, sand, and perlite in the ratio of 1:1:1 to create a balanced mix for your aloe vera plant. Readymade commercial succulent and cactus mixes are also suitable for aloe vera plants.
Today, I will discuss the soil requirements for Aloe Vera and the importance of using the right soil mix. I will also share some commercial and some DIY soil mix recipes to try whichever you want for your Aloe Vera plant.
Why is soil necessary for Aloe Vera?
Whenever you grow a plant, you should give utmost importance to the soil.
The growing medium is the plant’s home and can affect the plant’s growth and development.
It ensures proper growth of the roots and proper flow of nutrition, oxygen, and water.
Let’s see how the soil influences Aloe Vera’s health.
The right soil will give your plant adequate nutrients to survive, for example, magnesium, phosphorous, nitrogen, copper, potassium, etc.
All these nutrients together will keep the plant strong and healthy.
The soil has a lot of space in between the particles.
When you pour water, it spreads all over the soil through those pores and reaches the roots.
As the plant absorbs water through the roots, the moisture distributes oxygen and nutrients to all the parts.
Without the right soil, the plant cannot absorb the moisture.
Getting proper water will also keep the plant cool and prevent overheating.
The soil pores can also hold the air.
The plant further uses this air to convert sugar to energy.
The plant uses this energy for survival.
The soil can also control the plant’s temperature by acting as an insulator.
It will save the plant roots from sudden temperature fluctuations.
A good soil mix contains all three particles.
|Sand||It is the largest particle in the soil, and it drains water very quickly and is good for aeration. But they don’t hold moisture or nutrients well.|
|Clay||They are the smallest particle in the soil, due to which they can retain moisture for a long time and drain water slowly.|
|Silt||The silt size is between clay and soil, i.e., neither too big like the sand nor too small like the clay. They will keep a proper balance of drainage and retention of the water and soil and good aeration.|
A balanced quantity of these three is called loamy soil and is perfect for Aloe Vera.
Peaty soil has high biomass and supports good drainage, retention, and aeration with slightly high acidic levels.
Chalky soil is alkaline and drains quickly but won’t retain moisture or nutrients.
So, you must know the right ingredients for Aloe Vera.
Otherwise, you can make the wrong soil and harm their health.
Signs you are using the wrong soil for Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera will show certain signs when you go wrong with the soil mix:
1. The leaves will turn yellow because the soil drains water too fast.
It is common when the plant stays outside under the direct sun.
You must use moisture retention ingredients.
Add perlite to help the soil retain moisture.
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2. The leaves will discolor and become soft and mushy.
It means the soil is not draining enough water.
You have not added any porous materials.
Add some pumice or coarse sand to improve the drainage.
What to consider while choosing the best soil mix for Aloe Vera?
Aloe Vera belongs to the sandy and dry conditions of the Arabian Peninsula.
But nowadays, they are grown everywhere.
If you want to grow them in your home, you must replicate their growing conditions for better development.
The best soil for Aloe Vera plants should be the one that can:
- Retain enough moisture.
- Let the excess water drain out faster.
- Provide adequate nutrients.
- Improve aeration.
There are certain things to consider while making or choosing the correct type of soil mix for an Aloe Vera plant.
Focussing on those things will mimic the plant’s growing conditions and encourage them to grow in your garden or inside your house.
Drainage and retention
The first thing you need to consider is drainage and retention.
A balance between these will keep the plant hydrated and away from overwatering and root rot.
In their native land, Aloe Vera grows over sandy and gritty areas.
To ensure successful growth, you must ensure that the growing medium drains water faster.
Moreover, Aloe Vera can store water in its leaves and gradually utilize them for optimal growth.
On the other hand, the soil should also retain moisture because if there is no water, the plant cannot store the water and become thin, dry, and crispy.
A good beginning is a mixture of sand, perlite, pumice, and pine bark.
If you want to grow them in the ground, dig and tilt the planting site and add some gritty materials to improve the drainage.
The pH level
Aloe Vera grows well in soil with a pH of 5.5 to 8.5.
While making the soil mix, check the pH level once before placing the plant over it.
Sometimes the pH level changes after watering.
Though tap water contains a pH of 6.5 to 8.5, you can use distilled water or rainwater if you think tap water is the culprit behind a different pH level.
You can also add some wood ash to make the soil alkaline.
Add 1-2 spoons of wood ash to get the required pH level if it turns too acidic.
It can also prevent pest and fungal infestations.
Ingredients like bark chips and small stones have small air pockets that give the roots adequate airflow and oxygen.
Perlite can also absorb a small amount of moisture and release it slowly.
Through this, the plant and the roots can have both oxygen and moisture.
Most people make the mistake of watering too much or too little.
As a result, the plant receives very little oxygen or moisture.
You must water the plant deeply enough and then wait for the top 2-3 inches of the soil to dry completely before watering.
Along with the soil being dry and moisture-retentive, you must also focus on its ability to retain or provide moisture.
You must use soil that can provide some nutrients to the soil.
At the same time, you should not use heavily organic soil for nutrition.
It will hold water for a long time and result in overwatering.
That is why the soil you choose must balance organic and inorganic matter.
Ingredients to use in the Aloe Vera soil mix
Many materials can make an ideal soil for the Aloe Vera plant.
You can either make a soilless medium or use some ingredients to mix with regular potting soil.
When you grow Aloe Vera in containers, choosing the right material is essential for the plant’s health.
You must ensure moisture drainage and retention, nutrition, and pH levels whatever you use.
The following ingredients can benefit Aloe Vera in many ways:
|Pumice||It is a lightweight and porous volcanic rock. It increases the structural integrity of the soil mix and helps in good drainage.|
|Perlite||Perlite is a kind of fluffy volcanic glass-like Styrofoam pellet. Perlite helps to prevent the soil from becoming compressed. It helps in absorbing a lot of water and releasing it gradually.|
|Bark chunks||This ingredient is usually used as a base ingredient for potted plants.|
|Pine bark fines||They are pine wood shavings from the pine mulches. They help in aeration and drainage due to their air pockets. They contain a low pH level.|
|Lava rocks||Another volcanic rock that keeps the soil stable and ensures drainage.|
|Peat moss||Though mostly recommended to avoid as they can retain a lot of moisture, you can use them in small amounts. In some cases, you can use them when you mistakenly make a soil mix that doesn’t hold enough water. It also contains a high acidic level.|
|Sphagnum Peat Moss||They are from wetlands and bogs. They help in moisture retention, drainage, and neutral pH levels.|
|Coco coir||These come from coconut husks and enhance moisture retention.|
|Compost/Organic matter||They are decomposed matter that helps to provide the plant with adequate nutrients.|
|Sand||It helps the water to drain faster.|
|Rocks or Pebbles||They let the roots pursue out space.|
|Vermiculite||They improve aeration and retain moisture and nutrients.|
Ideal soil mix recipes for the Aloe Vera plant
There are many suitable soil mix recipes for this particular succulent.
If you don’t want to use the commercial ones, you can try these recommended ones to get good results.
Add little water to combine them. Don’t overwater.
- 1 part potting soil. Clean it and let it dry for 3-4 days.
- 1 part coarse sand. Wash thoroughly, repeat 2 times and dry them for a few hours. The soil and sand must be in the proportion of 1:1.
- 1 part perlite.
- 1 part compost
Water the plant after 24 hours.
After 3 days of acclimatization, keep them under the sun, depending on their need.
Dry fry this mixture for 5-10 minutes.
Heating this soil will sterilize it and reduce the chances of fungal development and increase nutrient release.
Now, add 1 teaspoon of fungicide and 2 teaspoons of bone meal.
This recipe is [erfect for dry regions.
Equal parts of:
- 2 parts of inorganic ingredients like coarse sand or perlite
- 1 part of organic matter like coco coir or peat moss. Avoid using big chunks here.
- 1 part of organic compost, like vermicompost from worms, guano from bats and birds, and manure from livestock.
If you use potting soil, reduce watering because the potting mix is heavier than the garden soil.
Commercial soil mixes for Aloe Vera
If you don’t want to put extra effort while growing Aloe Vera in containers, you can try the following commercial soil mixes designed for Aloe Vera:
All-purpose Succulent plant soil
It contains peat moss, perlite, lime, and horticultural-grade sand that helps to prevent overwatering.
The sand and lime support good drainage.
Peat and perlite retain and releases the moisture gradually.
It also supports good aeration and doesn’t compress.
They come in a small quart-size bag, so you need to order multiple bags for a big plant.
But, one single bag is enough for a small plant.
Miracle-Gro Succulent Potting mix
They contain sphagnum moss, processed forest products, fertilizer, and wetting agent.
It will drain well, improve aeration and make the plant healthy.
You can avoid fertilizing them for at least 1-2 months due to the addition of the fertilizer.
The fertilizer will boost the root growth of the new plants.
They come in a 4-quart bag.
The only con is they don’t have any sand or gravel.
They are good only for small plants.
Perfect Plants Organic Succulent Soil
Its combination of pine bark, coco coir, sand, and perlite makes them a perfect well-drained soil mix for the Aloe Vera plant.
The large chunks of perlite in this mix make the soil lofty and increase the drainage.
The bark has gone through biodegradation, due to which they can make the soil nutritive without any mixture of fertilizers.
They come in a 4-quart bag and enough for medium to large Aloe Vera plants.
Hoffman Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil mix
It has a blend of sphagnum moss, sand, limestone, reed sedge peat, and perlite.
Though the peat is acidic, limestone can help balance the soil’s pH level.
The pH level ranges between 5.5 and 8.5.
They are available in a 4-quart bag and usage directions and other instructions.
The only demerit is they contain more peat than the others.
Espoma Organic Cactus mix
The soil consists of sphagnum moss, perlite, limestone, yucca extracts, and Myco-Tone.
It is lightweight and supports sound drainage.
The soil doesn’t become compact and retains the right moisture to hydrate and nourish the plant.
The limestone helps to balance the pH level. The Myco-Tone helps to prevent fungal growth.
The Succulent Cult Organic Succulent and Cactus soil mix
You can use them for indoor and outdoor Aloe Vera plants.
They have 75% mixed substrate and a 25% mixture of limestone and perlite.
This soil mix will help in a good balance of moisture retention, drainage, and pH levels.
They are lightweight, good aerated, and excellent for large plants and pups.
They come in 3-quart bags and 6-quart bags.
Aloe Vera Soil Blend All Natural
It is a premium soil mixture primarily made for Aloe Vera.
You can also use it for other succulents.
It has a blend of many components, like sand, peat moss, perlite, and lime.
It can make the plant healthy and faster growth.
The sand supports good drainage, and perlite further helps the sand ensure drainage.
The lime helps to balance the pH level.
The only problem is their storage bag is of low quality.
- Water the Aloe Vera plants when the soil dries out completely.
- Water carefully if your soil mix contains potting soil, peat, or compost. These can help in retaining moisture for a long time.
- First, check the soil.
- If the top 2-3 inches are dry, water the plant.
- They don’t require high feeding. Since the soil mix contains ingredients that provide enough nutrients, you can go easy on fertilizing.
- Add a mixture of fungicide and water once a month to avoid fungal infections.
- They grow naturally in desert regions under the full sun. Still, you can give them partial shade with 5 to 6 hours of full sun.
In the beginning, making or choosing the correct soil for Aloe Vera can be a complication. But, once you are familiar with their requirements, you will find it very easy to select an ideal soil for them.
After the above discussion, I hope your confusion about Aloe Vera’s soil requirements is clear.
Make a balance between retention and drainage, pH levels, and organic and inorganic materials. It should be well-drained and lightweight. Concentrate more on the drainage and water carefully.
After a few months of practice, you can excel in everything about Aloe Vera’s requirements.