Choosing the Best Pots for Aloe Vera (With Examples)


Choosing the best pots for aloe vera

I love growing aloe vera and I have learned a lot about the importance of choosing the right pot through some experimentation and some trial and error!

What I learned was there are several important considerations when choosing a pot, such as the material, the size, and drainage. I even discovered from some observational experiments that the color of the pot is important, and not just because of its appearance!

The bottom line is…

The best pots for aloe vera are terracotta or ceramic pots that are around 2 inches wider than the size of the aloe vera. The pot size should be proportionate to the aloe vera’s size so the soil can dry out between bouts of watering to prevent root rot and to promote the growth of aloe vera offsets.

I have found that aloe vera grows better in terracotta or ceramic pots as they do not heat up excessively in the sun. I’ve also found that smaller pots are better for beginner aloe vera growers (larger pots hold more moisture, which commonly causes root rot), and aloe vera can grow well even when pot-bound.

The most important feature of an aloe vera pot is that it has drainage holes in the base as they are very sensitive to root rot.

Best Pot Size for Growing Aloe Vera

Whilst a lot of our houseplants need to be repotted often, our aloe vera only need to be repotted every 2-4 years (they are super low maintenance).

Aloe Vera is a slow-growing succulent that can grow up to 2 feet tall with a similar width in the right conditions.

Because our aloe vera can take a long time to reach a large mature size, it is important that we plant our aloe vera in a pot that is appropriate for its size, as pictured, with 2 inches or so of soil on either side of the aloe vera.

Aloe vera is specially adapted to growing in well-draining soil and tolerates drought-like conditions in its native environment in Oman in the Arabian peninsula.

Therefore aloe vera has adapted to growing in gritty, well-draining soils, with a large particle size that does not retain too much moisture (read my article, best potting soil for aloe vera).

Pots significantly larger than the size of the aloe vera have a greater soil capacity and, therefore, a greater capacity to retain moisture. Large pots can retain moisture too long for the aloe vera to tolerate and promote root rot, hence the importance of planting aloe vera in pots proportionate to the plant’s current size.

(Read my article on how to revive a dying aloe vera if the leaves are turning brown, yellow, or black).

However, it is worth considering that smaller pots dry out quicker as there is less soil to hold moisture.

This is usually favorable for the drought-resistant aloe vera as it emulates the well-draining soil conditions to which they are adapted, but at the height of Summer with higher temperatures and more direct sunlight, the soil can dry out too quickly for the aloe vera to draw up and therefore it may be necessary to increase the frequency of watering to counteract the fast drying nature of smaller pots.

(Read my article on how to water aloe vera to learn the best method for establishing when your aloe vera should be watered).

What I have anecdotally observed is that my aloe plants that were planted in smaller pots had more offsets from the main aloe vera plant at a greater rate than in larger pots so that I could propagate my new little aloe plant.

Small offsets plants are more common in smaller pots which develops into a mature aloe vera.
Small offset plants are more common in smaller pots, and they develop into mature aloe vera plants.

What I subsequentially learned from a specialist succulent grower is that with larger pots, the aloe prioritizes the development of its root system more so than the growth of the leaves or offsets, so your aloe vera may appear to be growing very slowly if it is a small plant in a larger pot as its energy is directed to establish the root system.

Best Material For Aloe Vera Pots

Aloe vera can grow in pots made of any type of material, but some types of pots are more favorable for growing aloe vera than others.

I have personally seen aloe vera grown successfully in metal, wood, plastic, terracotta, and ceramic pots.

However, I would caution against planting aloe vera in metal pots and containers. Aloe vera prefers to grow in full sun, which would heat up the metal pots significantly to the point the aloe vera’s roots could suffer heat stress.

This would also mean you have to be more diligent with watering, and finding the balance between overwatering and underwatering becomes very tricky.

If the aloe is suffering from heat or drought stress the leaves (which store the water) will typically appear more hollow and curl inwards instead of a plump, full-looking leaf (Read my article on saving aloe vera leaves curling inwards).

Wooden pots, on the other hand, have the opposite problem in that they would likely retain too much moisture and keep the soil around the roots too damp for the aloe to tolerate, which can promote the conditions for root rot.

My personal favorite pots for growing aloe vera are ceramic and terracotta style pots.

Terracotta and ceramic pots are the best for growing aloe as the pots are porous and breathable compared to plastic and metal pots.
Terracotta and ceramic pots are the best for growing aloe as the pots are porous and breathable compared to plastic and metal pots.

Terracotta and ceramic pots tend to be more hard-wearing than metal or wood (the metal can rust which is not favorable for growing aloe vera).

Ceramic and terracotta pots are more durable and do not heat up to the same extent as metal or plastic pots in full sun, which makes finding the optimal watering schedule for your aloe a bit easier.

Ceramic and terracotta pots are also more porous and breathable (compared to plastic pots, which can retain water) to allow the soil to dry out between bouts of watering, which is crucial for a succulent adapted to drought, such as aloe vera.

It is worth noting that plastic pots does tend to be lighter than terracotta or ceramic pots which could be important if you have a large aloe plant that you intend to move outdoors in the Summer.

Aloe vera grow well in plastic pots as they are durable, although it is essential that they have good drainage holes in the base.
Aloe vera grows well in plastic pots as they are durable, although they must have good drainage holes in the base.

Plastic pots are the most affordable, and durable and do work well for growing aloe vera indoors as long as they are not too large for the aloe vera (always plant aloe vera in a pot proportionate to its size) and have good drainage in the base.

What is the Best Colour for your Aloe vera Pot?

I acknowledge that opinions may vary on a stylistic choice for aloe pots but I have noticed that aloe pots grow better in pots that are lighter in colour.

My personal favorite pot for my aloe plants is a clay pot that I painted white. But why is this better?

I used to grow my aloe in a black pot, but because our aloe plants like full sun I found the pot heated but so quickly on a hot summer day and the soil was dried out completely in record time…too quick even fro my aloe plants root’s to draw up the moisture.

This is resulted in my aloe leaves looking hollow as the aloe did not have enough moisture to replenish its reserves.

I did a little experiment and found that the soil in my darker pots dried out a day or so quicker on average than my aloes in the white pots and sometimes dried out in one day if it was a particularly hot day.

I also hypothesized that the excess heat around the roots may be causing the aloe stress because the aloe in the black pot did not grow as fast.

My aloes in my white clay pot seemed much happier and grew more quickly (without getting leggy or stretched) which I attributed to the leaves not experiencing any signs of stress in the Summer.

Good Drainage in the Base of the Pot

Aloe vera is adaptable and can grow in many different types of pots, but whichever pot you choose there must be drainage holes in the base.

Without drainage holes in the base of the pot, water just collects in the bottom of the pot which keeps the soil damp around the aloe vera roots which promotes the conditions for root rot and causes the succulent to die back.

This is a common problem I see people encounter because often, I see aloe plants grown in nice decorative pots that do not have drainage holes in the base.

Of course we need to remember that our pots with drainage holes in the base should complement the well-draining gritty soil used to plant aloe vera to help replicate the aerated soil conditions of the aloe vera’s native environment.

Gritty soil also prevents the drainage holes from becoming blocked with compacted soil, which can slow drainage.

This ensures the soil can dry out completely between bouts of watering which emulates the cycle of a deluge of rain followed by a period of drought typically experienced in the aloe’s natural habitat.

Avoid this mistake!

A big mistake I see when it comes to growing aloe vera is choosing an appropriate pot with drainage holes but placing to pot on a saucer or tray to prevent water from spilling and allowing water to pool in the saucer or tray which keeps the roots damp and causes the aloe to die of root rot.

It is of course okay to use a saucer or tray underneath your aloe pot to prevent water from spilling but it should be emptied regularly to prevent to pot from sitting in a pool of water so that you can prevent root rot which is the most common cause of an aloe vera dying.

Key Takeaways:

  • The best pot for aloe vera is a terracotta or ceramic pot that is 2 inches wider than the width of the aloe plant, with drainage holes in the base. Smaller terracotta pots proportionate to the size of the aloe vera are breathable, allowing the soil to dry out efficiently between bouts of watering.
  • The ideal size for an aloe vera pot is around 2 inches larger than the current size of the aloe vera. A pot proportionate to the size of the aloe vera promotes the development of aloe vera offshoots and allows the soil to dry out quickly, reducing the risk of root rot.
  • Terracotta and ceramic pots are better for growing aloe vera as they are more breathable than plastic or metal pots. This helps the aloe vera’s soil dry out between watering bouts. Metal pots also heat up in full sun, which causes heat and drought stress for the aloe vera’s roots.
  • The most important feature of an aloe vera pot is a drainage hole in the base, which allows excess water to drain freely away from the roots. To prevent root rot, empty saucers, and trays regularly to avoid water pooling around the roots.

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