My Incredible Aloe Vera Plant

Hercules
Hercules

A couple of years ago, I stumbled across a great way to grow Aloe Vera.  I bought a small start from the local garden center.  It was only about 2” around and maybe 6” tall.  I brought it home, potted it, and that small start grew into an enormous plant.  I just went out and measured it.  At its widest point, it is 56” across, and it is 3 feet tall.  Some of the leaves are 3 ½ inches across at their base, and the largest leaves are 1 ¼ inch thick.  I didn’t even know what I was doing but I just really hit it right on this one.

One issue with Aloe Vera is the sheer weight of the plant.  It’s really not suitable for a plastic pot.  Another thing about this plant, is that too much rain, or over-watering will cause it to get black spots all over the leaves.  I did not want these 2 things to happen, and that was my basis for the decisions I made regarding how to go about potting it.

First of all, I chose a heavy pot.  I felt like neither the weight of the plant, nor the wind would be causing it to tip over, that way.  Also, we had a bunch of compost ready, so I decided I would include that in my mix.  What follows is my method for potting this plant:

  • I chose an 8” terra cotta pot.  I cleaned it and placed a curved shard from a broken clay pot over the drain hole.
  • I put a layer of about 3” of pea gravel down in the bottom, hoping the good drainage would keep away the black spots if we had a lot of rain.
  • I made a mix of 50% homemade compost and 50% sandy loam, I moistened the mixture a bit and added it to my pot.
  • I hollowed out a place for my little start, and placed it down in my mix, still packed in the soil it was rooted in.
  • I made a thin top-layer out of pea gravel, reasoning that it may act like a mulch and keep the plant cool.
  • The best sun I could get for it was a west exposure that was protected until noon.  So that’s where I put it.

This plant took off immediately.  Very quickly, it was very beautiful!  It did not matter how much rain we got, this plant could not be over-watered and has never had a black spot on it!  After the first year, I had to put it into a 12” pot.  And I used the exact same method that time too, except I probably had a 5” layer of pea gravel at the bottom.  It’s been moved to the sun room and enjoys a south exposure now.  Since it is extremely heavy, I don’t plan to take it out again.  It has been magnificent, so beautiful, and perfectly balanced!!  Recently, it has gotten so big, that the leaves are wanting to break down a little.  In the prime of its life, it gave me only one baby, which is still pretty small.  I plan to make a fresh start with that one.

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