HOW TO PLANT (OR REPOT) AN ALOE VERA PLANT
If your aloe plant has grown leggy, has gotten too large, or simply needs an upgrade, it’s time to repot it. Here’s how:
- Prepare your pot. After giving the new pot a quick rinse (or a good scrub, if it’s a pot you’ve used before) and letting it dry thoroughly, place a small piece of screen over the drainage hole; this will keep the soil from falling out the bottom and will allow water to drain properly. A doubled-up piece of paper towel or newspaper can also work in a pinch, though these will break down over time.
- Prepare your plant. Remove the aloe vera plant from its current pot and brush away any excess dirt from the roots, being careful not to damage the roots.
- If your plant has any pups, remove them now. (See the “Care” section of this page for instructions on removing and potting pups.)
- If your plant has a very long, spindly stem that won’t fit in the pot, it is possible to trim the stem off partially. Note that this is risky and could kill the plant. To trim the stem: Cut off part of the stem, leaving as much as possible on the plant. Next, take the bare plant and place it in a warm area that gets indirect light. After several days, a callous will form over the wound. At this point, continue with the repotting instructions below.
- Plant your plant. Fill the pot about a third of the way with a well-draining potting mix, then place your plant in the soil. Continue filling in soil around the plant, bearing in mind that you should leave at least ¾ of an inch of space between the top of the soil and the rim of the pot. The bottom leaves of the aloe plant should rest just above the soil, too. Do not water after planting.
- Ignore your plant (temporarily). After you’ve placed your aloe in its new pot, don’t water it for at least a week. This will decrease the chance of inducing rot and give the plant time to put out new roots. Until the plant seems to be rooted and happy, keep it in a warm place that receives bright but indirect light.
HOW TO CARE FOR AN ALOE VERA PLANT
- Place in bright, indirect sunlight or artificial light. A western or southern window is ideal. Aloe that are kept in low light often grow leggy.
- Aloe vera do best in temperatures between 55 and 80°F (13 and 27°C). The temperatures of most homes and apartment are ideal.
From May to September, you can bring your plant outdoors without any problems, but do bring it back inside in the evening if nights are cold.
- Water aloe vera plants deeply, but infrequently. To discourage rot, allow the soil to dry at least 1 to 2 inches deep between waterings. Don’t let your plant sit in water.
- Water about every 3 weeks and even more sparingly during the winter. Use your finger to test dryness before watering. If the potting mix stays wet, the plants’ roots can begin to rot.
- Fertilize sparingly (no more than once a month), and only in the spring and summer with a balanced houseplant formula mixed at ½ strength.
- Repot when root bound, following the instructions given in “Planting,” above.