How to Repot Aloe in 3 Easy Steps

Does your Aloe plant need to be repotted? While this may seem easy, there a few things you'll want to be mindful of when repotting your plant. In this article, gardening expert Madison Moulton walks through three basic steps for repotting your Aloe plants, with a few tips along the way!

Gardener pulling Aloe plant out of black plastic pot

Contents

Aloe is an expansive genus of succulent plants with more than 500 species. Most are native to the Southern parts of Africa, including the islands, but Aloes have become naturalized in many countries around the world. They are known for their spiked, juicy foliage and their gorgeous flowers that attract birds and other pollinators during the cooler seasons.

Despite the wide variety in the Aloe genus, there is only one species most recognized and grown around the world – Aloe vera. Known for its medicinal qualities, Aloe vera is one of the most popular succulents around the world. In Latin, it literally translates to ‘true aloe’, indicating its high value in the plant world.

Luckily, it’s also quite easy to grow in the right conditions.

Aloe’s ease of care has made it popular for indoor growers who may struggle with more compact and geometric succulents. They don’t suffer too much when lighting conditions are not ideal, as opposed to others that immediately stretch and lose their shape without full sun.

If you’re planning on keeping your Aloe alive long-term, harvesting the gel from the leaves as the plant continues to grow, you will ultimately need to repot at some point. Follow this complete guide to help you get it right.

How Often Do Aloes Need Repotting?

Close-up of transplanted aloe vera in a black flower pot on a wooden table. A small Aloe Vera pup with bare roots lies next to the pot of the mother plant. The plant has a beautiful large rosette of long, succulent leaves, bright green in color, with pale green spots on the surface and small sharp pinkish spikes along the edges.
Aloe Vera should be repotted no more than once every 2 years to speed up its growth and give more room to the roots.

Although Aloes can grow to be impressively large, they also don’t mind being confined to a container. In fact, I’ve kept an Aloe ferox in a tiny terra cotta pot for about two years before deciding to repot and it showed no signs of struggle, growing just as well once it gained some more space.

You only really need to repot if you want your Aloe to grow larger or if it really begins to outgrow the pot, with roots taking up more space than the soil does. Repotting to refresh the soil is a rare requirement as these plants are generally happy in low-quality soils, as long as they drain well.

Aim to repot around once every 2-3 years on average. If you want to speed up growth or if your plant is young you can repot sooner, but avoid repotting too often. While these plants are tough, they can suffer transplant shock and stress after repotting, so wait until it’s absolutely needed before getting started.

Signs Your Aloe Needs Repotting

Close-up of Aloe with pups in need of repotting for more room to grow. Plant in a black plastic flower pot. The succulent has several dense rosettes of thick, fleshy, long, erect leaves, bright green in color with pointed tips and white spots on the surface. The leaves have small sharp white spikes along the edges.
Repotting Aloe is necessary if the plant’s roots have started to grow through drainage holes or there is no new growth.

In order to limit your chances of transplant shock, wait until your Aloe shows signs of needing repotting. There are a few things to look out for that will indicate repotting is required soon.

The first issue, consistent between all houseplants, is roots growing through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. That means they’ve used up all available space in the container and are looking for more room to expand.

Repotting soon is important in these cases as the roots will block the drainage holes, preventing water from draining out and leading to rotting.

Depending on the size of the pot, your plant may also become too large to stand upright, falling over due to being too top-heavy. This happens more often in plastic pots that can quickly fall over under the weight of the long and heavy succulent leaves.

Lack of new growth is another sign that potting is needed. In the right conditions, young Aloes can grow quite quickly, needing extra pot space to add new leaves. Sizing up the pot and loosening the roots will give them the space needed to expand below the soil and grow further above the soil.

Finally, if you leave repotting far too long, you will likely begin to notice growth problems. Lower leaves will likely turn yellow and the plant will struggle to draw up water due to soil degradation. If you notice any serious growth issues, make sure you repot immediately.

What You’ll Need

Top view, close-up of Aloe Vera with bare roots in a clay pot, ready to be transplanted into a new larger pot with fresh soil. The Aloe Vera plant has a large root ball and a beautiful tall rosette of long, fleshy, blue-green leaves with pointed tips and sharp thorns around the edges.
Choose a container two sizes larger, with drainage holes, and potting mix for cacti and succulents.

The first step to repotting is finding a new pot. For younger plants, you can choose a container two or three sizes up to accommodate the greater growth they experience.

For established mature plants, a container one size up is plenty. If you’re only wanting to change the soil, you can even repot back into the same container, trimming the roots to provide some more space.

Any pot or container is generally suitable for Aloes, as long as it has enough drainage holes. However, it’s best to opt for materials that draw moisture away from the soil to avoid rotting in these sensitive succulents. Use terra cotta or even fabric pots for the best results.

Next, you’ll need something to fill the pot with – new soil. Garden soil or regular potting soil is not suitable for container growing as it usually holds onto too much moisture for succulent plants to survive.

Look for cacti and succulent potting mix at your local nursery or online. You can also amend regular potting soil with sand and perlite to create the gritty texture these plants love.

If your plant has pups of excessively long roots, grab a pair of pruning shears too. Clean them before you start with soap and water to remove any harmful bacteria.

How To Repot An Aloe

Once you’ve prepped your plant and everything you will need, you’re ready to repot. Lay down some newspaper to catch any old soil to make clean up simpler.

Step 1: Remove the Plant From its Container

An Aloe Vera plant taken out of a flower pot for transplanting into a new pot. Close-up of a woman's hands holding a bare-rooted Aloe Vera seedling against a wooden table. The roots are thin, long, matted, brown. The plant has several rosettes of long, fleshy, bright green leaves with white spots on the surface.
Remove the Aloe from its pot and remove the old soil from the roots.

Firstly, start by removing the Aloe from its current pot. This may be the easiest or the hardest part, depending on your container and the size of the plant. If your hands are sensitive to the sharp edges of the leaves, make sure you wear gloves before you start.

For overgrown plants in rigid containers, it can take a bit of shaking and a gentle hand to free them from the sides. If it remains stuck, run a knife along the edges of the pot and turn the pot on its side, pulling the plant out from the base. Never grab the leaves as the soft growth can snap off easily.

In malleable containers like plastic pots, simply squeeze the sides to loosen the plant. Keep going until the soil is free, turning it slightly and sliding the entire plant out. Watering a day or two before you start can help make removal easier, but should only be done if the plant actually needs water to avoid rotting.

Loosen any roots circling around the bottom to free them. You can also remove some of the old soil if it has degraded, making way for new and healthy soil to take its place. Finally, if the roots are too long and will crowd the new pot, trim them with your pruning shears down to a more manageable size.

While you shouldn’t remove too many roots, don’t worry about hurting the plant with this trim. They will come back bigger and stronger in their new containers when trimmed correctly.

Step 2: Seperate Any Pups

Close-up of female hands separating the young from the Aloe Vera mother plant on a wooden table. The plant has several rosettes of beautiful, succulent, elongated leaves with pointed tips and small sharp spikes along the edges. The leaves are bright green with white spots on the surface.
Separate the pups from the parent plant so they don’t get energy from it and eventually you will be able to grow more Aloe.

This step is optional but certainly recommended to improve the health of your parent plant. If there are any pups growing around the base of your Aloe, especially large ones that are taking up lots of space, it’s best to remove these now.

Not only will you be able to grow even more Aloes, but these pups will stop drawing energy from the main plant by growing on their own. Ultimately, both plants will grow better if they are separated now.

Smaller pups can simply be pulled apart from the parent plant. They should be a few inches tall with enough roots to grow on their own without support. Larger ones may need to be cut off the plant with your pruning shears or even a sharp knife.

Close-up of three Aloe Vera pups separated from the mother plant at transplantation, on a wooden table, indoors. The pups have a small rosette of elongated, fleshy green leaves with white spots on the surface, and long brown roots with soil residue. The leaves have small sharp spines along the edges.
To better see the areas of separation, it is necessary to rinse the roots with water.

If you can’t see the areas of separation clearly, rinse off the soil around the roots with water. This will give you a better idea of what the base of the plant looks like, preventing any damage.

If you do make any cuts below the soil, it’s best to leave the plant out for a day or two on a piece of newspaper before replanting.

Giving the wound a chance to heal will prevent rotting when planted in soil. This practice is used for most succulent plants that hold onto water and are prone to rot in wet conditions.

Step 3: Replant

Close-up of a woman's hand transplanting Aloe Vera into a new pot. A girl lowers a succulent with bare roots into a black plastic pot. The plant has a rosette of succulent, thick, long, bright green leaves, covered with white spots and pinkish small sharp spikes along the edges.
Place the plant in a new pot, spread out the roots and fill in the gaps with potting soil.

Lay your plant (or plants) to one side and bring in your chosen container and soil mix. Use the previous container to measure the height of the bottom soil layer and fill in until the top soil line is the same as was previously.

Lower the plant into the pot to rest on the bottom layer of soil. Try to spread out the roots as you lay the plant down to encourage them to expand outwards.

Holding the plant upright, fill in the empty gaps around the plant with more soil mix until the soil is just below the rim of the pot. Keeping this extra bit of space prevents any soil from spilling out of the container when watering. Make sure the soil line is where it was previously on the stem, not any higher, to prevent chances of stem rot.

Gently press around the base of the plant to anchor it in place and keep it upright tightly. Make sure you don’t press too hard to avoid compacting the soil. Once the plant is strong and standing on its own, you can move it back to its previous spot to continue growing.

Follow the same process with any pups, filling a container and making a hole with your finger to plant in.

Aloe Care

Close-up of Aloe Vera in a black pot, on a wooden table, indoors. The plant is transplanted into a new pot with fresh and moist soil. The plant has a beautiful rosette of long, fleshy, thick bright green leaves with white spots on the surface. The leaves have minor damage in the form of stripes and cuts.
After transplanting, provide your Aloe with the proper care and conditions as before.

After planting, you can water if the roots look like they need it, or leave the plant to settle before watering. Although watering your succulent after repotting is standard practice, it can negatively impact succulents that won’t draw up much water while they try to settle into their new homes. Use your intuition to determine which is best for your plants.

Then you can treat your Aloe as you have previously, giving it the same care and conditions as before. The less you change about their environment after repotting, the better.

Make sure they have plenty of direct light and avoid overwatering while the roots establish themselves again. After a few weeks, they will have recovered and should grow as normal.

Final Thoughts

Aloe is a fairly low maintenance plant and can withstand a lot of neglect. They don’t have many common issues and are a popular indoor plant to start with if you are a novice houseplant owner. You may not need to repot your Aloe very often, but when you do, following these easy steps will make the process simple and trouble-free.

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