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.