(I'm new to planting) Can I use native soil from a nearby grass field? Should I also add some plotting mix?


Never use garden soil, soil from out of doors in pots for potted plants. Hard and fast rule. Use only sterilized potting soil, potting medium. There is rarely any 'soil' in a potting mix. The key is sterilization. You do not want any disease or hibernating insect to find a great vector to grow and multiply.

Use just plain cheapo sterilized potting soil. Do not buy any potting soil with gimmicks such as water holding gels and sponges! Make sure that absolutely no fertilizer has been added to that soil either.

You need to be in total control of fertilizer. Less is Best, More is Death and None is Dumb...a little ditty about fertilizer to go by.

No gravel or rocks or packing peanuts should be used beneath the soil. Use just soil above the drainage hole. Prop the pot up off the surface it sits with 1/4 inch tiles or 'pot feet'...

For your aloe vera make sure the pot is not too large. A cactus or succulent plant 6" high 6" wide should be planted in a 6 to 8" diameter clay pot. 3 to 4 inches in height. More shallow than tall. 1" from soil to rim. Too much wet soil will kill these desert plants. Water ONLY when very very dry. Use a bit of fertilizer (Osmocote 14-14-14 extended release 1/2 the amount the directions suggest). Great lighting...south window be careful with direct sun through the window. Never take the plant out side and put it in direct sun either nor take a plant indoors used to no sun and put it in direct sun from the kitchen window.... without acclimation.

Use ONLY potting medium (soil) for ALL plants planted in pots, planters. Never use garden soil for any potted plant. If you want more information about why this is necessary we could talk more...

Note: Yes, Walmart will have a garden aisle where you can buy a pot, the fertilizer and the potting soil.

Potting soil can be found in grocery stores, I kid you not. Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, Nurseries...some countries are unable to get potting soil of any kind so I've learned. No gimmicks or fertilizer!

Look for a small bottle of Osmocote All Purpose fertilizer 14-14-14 extended release. That will be good for ALL plants. Use half of the recommendation amounts. When my Aloe Vera grew up and matured to have leaves 3 to 4" in width, then that aloe gell stuff became phenomenal on cuts and open sores. Stinks very very badly but your cut or oweee turns black like a scab in half an hour! Amazing plant. Keep it in one spot only unless you have a covered patio you could take it out for the summer. No direct sunlight. Have fun!

I went out to find I am right about the needs of succulents. Potting soil with water holding gimmicks is very bad. Here is a fairly good article with solid information.

cactus and succulent needs

  • Thanks! Where can I find sterilized potting soil? Walmart? Jan 12 '19 at 17:23

You don't say where you are located in the world so it's hard to know what your soil is like. Succulents in general prefer a fast draining, open, low-organic potting media. Bagged brown potting soil or high-organic, clay soil is not the best choice. Anything with peat will make it very difficult (impossible) to re-wet once it dries out. There are several commercial cactus and succulent potting mixes available either in stores or online. Supplement that with pumice, pearlite or a calcined clay product to create open spaces and a reserve of moisture.

Any nonsense you read about putting succulents in tiny pots is just that; nonsense. The pot size needs to be appropriate for the size and mass of the plant. The growth habit of your plant will also help determine the best pot size. Is this a plant that offsets prolifically, like many Aloe do? You might need a larger pot.

Depending on your climate you can use either terra cotta or plastic pots. I prefer lower profile pots, sometimes called "tulip" pots. Any pot should have at least one drain hole.

Don't bury the plant too deep, the root/stem junction should be just small bit below the potting media level. You can cover the top of the potting media with fine gravel (3-6mm) generally referred to as top dressing, it's optional, but widely used by cactus and succulent growers. This keeps things neat and clean and keeps moisture away from the base of the plant.

Now, you can pot your plant in a tiny pot with peat-based soil and it will probably survive, if you want it to thrive it needs a potting mix closer to habitat.

Good luck!

  • @Tim Nevins Peat, such a great medium is now a no no to use because Peat has become an endangered resource. Coir, Cocofiber is a good substitute. But I don't think cactus and succulents are accustomed to acidic soils. Acidic soils are in high rainfall areas. High Organic matter in native soil is only found in warm, high rainfall areas, not deserts. Only makes sense anyway. I'll go look this up...Nice answer btw. You are walking them through the steps, putting the steps in order. Plants in pots should never be planted in any garden soil ever. Potted plants need sterilized medium.
    – stormy
    Jan 12 '19 at 21:40
  • @Tim Nevins Check out the article I posted in my answer...let me know what you think...
    – stormy
    Jan 12 '19 at 22:53

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