Good Drainage Substrate for Potted Aloes

Getting a well-draining substrate is crucial for aloes and in this article you will learn the perfect potted aloes soil recipe and also help you find the components.

All my aloes are in pots or planters, both indoors and outdoors. Because where I live takes too long I can’t keep them buried in the ground.

I know that the selection of the soil for our plants can be a challenge because even if you know what you need, it is not always easy to find it.

Over the years, I’ve done a lot of research on the best type of substrate for aloe or aloe vera pots, and have tried quite a few types of components, finding that some of them work much better than others.

In fact, I have learned that while improper watering of aloes is one of the leading causes of these plants dying, the correct substrate is a much more contributing factor than people realize.

How to choose a good substrate for aloes

Let’s start by talking about what you should be looking for in aloe soil: The best soil for potted aloes will contain enough water for them to absorb what they need , but it will also dry out quickly so the roots don’t rot .

Aloe vera absorbs a lot of water since its leaves are pure water. However, they can also absorb water through the leaves themselves, so moist soil is not always the source of water intake for these wonderful plants.

Being constantly in moist soil causes their roots to rot, because they receive too much water and eventually, the cells of the roots and leaves are damaged, causing the death of the plant.

Various environmental factors can cause the soil to dry out more quickly, so there will be different types of soil for different growing areas.

The area where you live , as well as where you grow your Sabilas, will play an important role in determining the type of soil these succulents need.

The perfect substrate for aloe vera indoors

As I mentioned before, most of my aloes live indoors. Since indoor environments don’t offer as much air circulation around pots, I’ve found that using the right soil is extremely important to the health of our green indoor friends.

I highly recommend using a substrate with different particles that improve drainage , as these particles are the key to a soil that works very well for aloe vera and other varieties indoors.

I usually make the substrate myself (since you can’t find such a mix in stores and the ones that are out there don’t always have the ideal proportions). My recipe combines:

  • 1 part of washed river sand.
  • 1 part of an absorbent rock such as perlite.
  • 1 part general purpose compost
  • 1 part of forest land

In this video I detail how I prepare my favorite mixture, where I have proven that aloes grow without problems:

Why does a light substrate work so well with aloe?

Aloes will grow in a wide variety of soils, but I want to go over why this particular substrate works, and why you should use it.

Compost and forest soil are the main contribution of organic elements, which also retain water easily.

Compost is decomposing organic material in an advanced state, so it will release large amounts of food instantly. On the other hand, the forest land will give us that food more slowly and for a longer time thanks to the decomposition of all those leaves and sticks (the leaves and sticks will provide us with extra porosity).

River sand allows water to flow between all the particles of the pot substrate, also improving air circulation between the roots, thus preventing the roots from rotting easily.

The really crucial part of the recipe, however, is to add the perlite , which has a very large grain size compared to the rest of the elements. The perlite will let air and water pass through it, in addition to lightening the soil.

Commercial premixed substrate for Aloe Vera

If mixing this land is a problem for you, either due to lack of time or not wanting to get your hands dirty, you’re in luck! Now you can buy different bags of substrates very similar to mine online.

The advantage of living this time is that online stores like Amazon have all kinds of products and luckily, I have found a perfect substrate for aloes.

The size of the particles and the consistency of this mixture are the most suitable for your aloe in the interior of the house. For example, while other substrates are normally only available in small particles, this recommendation has larger sizes, which improves drainage and aeration of the roots.

I highly recommend using this substrate for your indoor aloes. Especially if you tend to overwater, this substrate will help your aloes thrive. Click here for more information .

However, if you prefer not to buy this “gritty mix”, you can do it yourself. You will be able to find the ingredients in most nurseries .

If you do not have access to these exact materials, you can substitute similar ones. You just have to take into account the proportion of inorganic and organic material that is needed to maintain it.

For example, if you don’t use perlite, be sure to look for a similar one (like pumice stone). The really critical piece, as I mentioned earlier, is ensuring that the particle size is always large.

Substrate for Aloe Vera in outdoor pot

If you are planting aloes outdoors, the substrate I recommended earlier may or may not be the right one for you.

Since most of my experience with aloes has been in a cold place with a lot of rain, I found that certain mixtures work super well outdoors, without having to water my aloes for months. Now, if you live in a very hot place, I have to recommend a special mix .

If you are like me, who is not very good at remembering when I water the last time and you also live in a place with a lot of heat, this mixture with a contribution of coconut fiber will be perfect for you.

  • 1/2 part sand
  • 1/2 part of perlite (or pumice stone)
  • 1/2 part coconut fiber
  • 1/2 part compost
  • 1 Part of forest sand or leaf land

Coconut coir absorbs water easily, but it still drains well. Plus, it’s lightweight, so your pots will be a bit lighter.

I would not use coconut indoors as I found it did not dry fast enough for most of my aloes and it would end up with mold and sometimes rotting of plants. However, it is ideal for outdoors in hot, dry climates.

The added pumice stone, which is also lightweight, allows the soil to drain a little faster without drying out too quickly.

What about bagged mixes in large supermarkets?

If you can’t find any of the substrate components listed in the recipes above, your next best solution is to pick up a bag of ” succulent and cactus mix ” from large supermarkets.

This substrate works quite well for aloes. However, it doesn’t drain very well and tends to repel water when completely dry. I highly recommend adding a rock material such as pumice, crushed granite, or perlite.

Do I need to replant my aloes right now?

If your aloes are doing well in the soil they are in, don’t repot. As I said at the beginning, the right soil for your aloes depends on your climate, as well as where your plants are. In other words, if it’s working … stick with it .

On the other hand, if you’ve found that your aloes are dying frequently, and you can’t figure out what’s going wrong, the soil is a good place to start your research.

While replacing the soil mix may not solve all of their problems, your pods will be much happier in well-draining soil with plenty of airflow around the roots.

Replanting new aloes in a new and specific substrate for aloes

When you bring home a new aloe vera plant, plant it back in new soil as soon as possible, removing most of the soil from the pot. Many common problems with aloes come from keeping them in their original store-bought soil.

The tent substrate poses two main problems. First of all, locally purchased aloes tend to be root saturated (meaning the roots are filling most of the pot ). If you simply remove the aloe and put it in a new pot, the roots will have a hard time spreading.

Second, most nurseries sell aloes in soils that are not designed for long-term growth. Or at least not in the long run anywhere other than a greenhouse.

This is because large nurseries and growers generally use the same soil for all of their plants. They want a soil mix that works for almost everything. When aloes are small, they need more water, so a dense soil (like regular potting soil) works at that stage.

But leaving aloes in this soil for too long can quickly cause a plant to rot or, in some cases, prevent it from getting the water it needs.

Peat moss is the main ingredient in most potting soils. When moss dries completely, it tends to repel water. If you don’t let the water soak the surface of the soil and start to penetrate the peat, the aloe will not receive any water. The water just runs down the sides of the pot and out the bottom.

So please, for the health of your new aloe, please refill it as soon as you can after purchase . These new aloes will greatly appreciate the new healthy soil and space for their roots to spread.

Are you convinced by our advice on an ideal substrate for aloes?

The soil you use for your aloes is as important as the frequency of its watering. Take a moment to examine the soil you are using for your aloes, and see if a change could improve their health.

If you liked this article on  Good Drainage Substrate for Potted Aloes , I think you will also like these other articles:

  • Aloe Vera seeds, learn how to grow them at home
  • How much sunlight does an Aloe Vera plant need?
  • Common pests and diseases of Aloe Vera or Aloe Vera

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