One of the most useful plants for indoor growing, aloe is fairly easy to grow and can be quite forgiving.
While aloe vera is the best known, most aloe species have sap containing medicinal properties, making more than just a bit of nice greenery for your home.
Some of these wonderful Aloe species include:
- Aloe arborescens (AKA candelabra plant)
- Aloe aristata (AKA lace aloe)
- Aloe deltoideodonta
- Aloe humilis (AKA spider aloe)
- Aloe variegata
However, growers tend to make one very common mistake which leaves their aloe plants scraggly or sick.
This mistake is in concluding that aloe requires the same soil as other African succulents.
Read on to find out what soils work best for these amazing plants so yours can live a long, healthy and happy life.
What Is The Best Soil For Aloe Plants?
As mentioned, Aloe plants are native to northern Africa but have different soil requirements than most African succulents.
Thankfully, you can easily mix your own soil or buy potting mixes that meet the needs for all aloe varieties.
Related: Starting Aloe Pups and Offsets
Common Aloe Soil Mistakes
Never try to grow your aloe in pure sand or use fine sand.
The former can create excess drainage, preventing the plant from getting enough water, while the latter will compact into a clay-like soil and retain too much water.
Full sand also means there are no nutrients for your aloe to absorb.
Also, keep in mind that aloe very has special requirements compared to other species.
It will require a neutral pH (other aloe plants are acid-friendly) and a much higher potassium content.
Purchasing Commercial Potting Mixes For Aloe Plants
Most cactus and succulent potting soil mixes will work.
Aim for a neutral pH, especially for aloe vera, which doesn’t like acidity.
Two excellent choices for aloe vera are:
- Hoffman Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix
- Miracle-Gro’s Cactus, Palm, & Citrus Potting Mix
Both brands are also compatible with other aloe species, although you may have to adjust your choice of fertilizer to maintain the proper NPK balance.
Speaking of fertilizers, aloe needs a good fertilizer in addition to good soil.
Most aloe plants do well with a balanced 10-10-10 NPK ratio mix suitable for succulents.
Aloe vera, being the odd one out, prefers a 10-40-10 mix.
Keep in mind the NPK of your potting soil and dilute or adjust as needed to maintain a good balance.
Making Your Own Potting Mix
Part of the fun for many growers is mixing their own potting soil, and a growing Aloe is very forgiving when it comes to home mixes.
Begin with a quality well-draining potting soil mix.
Next, add coarse sand, perlite, or pumice – or a blend of the three.
Most aloe plants will be fine with a 1:1 ratio down to as low as a 1:3 aggregate to soil ratio.
Depending on the individual species, you may choose to adjust this ratio (for example, Aloe deltoideodonta prefers an equal to 3-1 ratio of aggregate to soil).
This ensures the soil won’t compact too much, allowing it to properly aerate and drain.
You may also wish to add a layer of pebbles to the bottom of your container to further assist in proper drainage.