Small but SPECIAL
by Brody Turner
(Farmington Hills, Michigan)
Hi. I'm 10 & just got a succulent from English Gardens in Michigan.
It's very small, has very pointy leaves that are mostly green at the bases and the very center of each cluster, and then become more mauve or purple-ish as the go up.
The leaves have little teeth thingies along their edges and some lighter white or gray spots closer to the tips. It's not chubby like my aloe or graptoveria (I don't know if I spelled that right.)
Its roots are white and long. Right now, the roots are growing throughout the dirt AND they're starting to circle around the outside of the dirt too.
A few of the outer, lower leaves that look like they're dying off are kind of a peach or orange-ish color. WHAT IS THIS THING? I had a venus flytrap that died and I don't want to kill this one too. Please help me find out what it is and how to care for it. Thank you, Brody
Hi Brody, welcome to the wonderful world of succulents. There are many to choose from that are easy to grow and will thrive with almost no care.
What you have is indeed an Aloe, this one is known botanically as Aloe aristata, which has characteristic thread like ends on each leaf. This one looks extremely root bound, but luckily, as you've described the roots as white, this means that it's perfect timing to transplant it.
Choose a pot a little bigger than this one, and pull the plant out. You should tease or dishevel the roots out while you're at it, because even though they are healthy, they will tend to just keep going round and round in circles, eventually strangling themselves.
I also take this opportunity to make sure there are no black, shriveled or brown colored roots, and trim those off, as they are dead or dying and won't come back.
The soil you use for these plants has to be well drained - this means, don't use your garden soil (which also could have fungus, rot organisms, or other pathogens in it).
Find some good potting soil that is sterilized for house plants, or even better, specifically for cactus plants.
If all you can find is houseplant potting soil, mix it half and half (use a coffee can or something similar to measure it) with some kind of small gravel - turkey grit is a good size, any kind is fine, as long as it doesn't have very fine particles like dust in it.
At this point, with the plant out of the pot, you can also pull off any dead leaves (I say pull them, because they should just detach from the stem, rather than cutting them with scissors which leaves a stub that can rot).
Put a small amount of soil in the bottom of your new pot, and then nestle the plant down into it, filling up the sides with soil. Shake the pot or carefully bang it on the table to settle the soil. Then, don't water it for a day to two to let it heal up any open surface wounds. Once it's looking perky, keep it in fairly bright light until it shows signs of new growth, and you're good to go.
You can see more about Aloe plants and more here. For general succulent care, see this page.
Happy Succulent Growing!