Potting Up Indoor Plants and Dividing Aloe Vera

In the cold days of winter going outside into the garden is not high on everyone's agenda, but there are really a lot of very useful gardening jobs to do in winter, especially on a sunny afternoon. For such a long time I have been meaning to repot some of my indoor plants, and today was the day. First I collected the pots. I am still not buying anything this year if I can possibly avoid it, so I fossicked through my dwindling collection of terracotta pots and found some the right size. I then prowled around the house to see what else I could find, and took down these blue and white Chinese porcelain pots from the top of my bookshelf. They have been up there doing nothing but looking pretty for years, so now it's time for them to do some actual work.

I have a collection of pieces of broken terracotta pots that I keep to use as covers for the drainage holes in pots. These stop the potting mix from falling out of the pots, and also slow down the water as it drains out of the pot, to keep the soil damp for longer.

This is my poor aloe vera plant. I bought it two years ago when I moved to this house, and it has been in its tiny nursery pot ever since. Luckily aloe vera thrives on neglect, and it has grown several babies. It really is time to separate them now though, so I carefully pried the plantlets apart.

Now I have four aloe plants instead of one! I love plants - they are so generous! Two of these plantlets also have tiny babies, so in a year or so I will be able to divide them again. If you are doing this, make sure that each piece has some roots attached.

Here are my potted babies in their new cosy blankets of fresh soil. I love the shiny leaves of the fiddle-leaf fig. It too was living in its tiny nursery pot for over two years, so should make enormous growth as spring comes along. The two devil's ivy plants came from cuttings from my friend Carla. She cut the stem just an inch above and below a leaf. I left them to root in a glass of water, then potted them up in potting mix for a few months. One is now growing a new leaf, and both had roots sticking out of the bottom of their pots, so I knew it was time to pot them on. I gave one back to Carla, one to my friend Lillian who is making a jungle in her bathroom, and kept two to drape down from high shelves. Devil's ivy drapes beautifully in long, leafy vines. Carla's cat kept chewing her plant, which was why she had to trim it. I use about half potting mix and half compost in my indoor plant pots. I find that all potting mix dries out too much.

The aloe vera I potted up in succulent mix, which drains extra well, and is more bark-like than regular potting mix. Ok, so when I said I am not buying anything, clearly I bought potting mix and succulent mix. I would love to learn to make my own. It's on the list. That would eliminate more plastic bags from my life. But it's food really, isn't it? Not things. Plant food..

 I watered all the pots with a solution of seaweed concentrate. Three capfuls of seaweed concentrate to a nine litre watering can full of water. Seaweed concentrate stimulates root growth. While the pots are draining I get out my seashell collection to make a decorative mulch for the aloes. My seashell collection is the result of many years of family trips to the beach, and all those buckets-full that come home with the children. When they get tired of the shells (two days on average) I store them in a big pot in the shed. They make a very nice mulch for indoor plants.

Now to find new homes for the plants indoors. If you bring terracotta pots indoors it is important to remember to use a glazed saucer as terracotta saucers are porous and will ruin the surface you have it on. I have a stack of plates in the back of the cupboard that are chipped or cracked and use them as plant saucers. I am so happy to have repotted my plants at last. It may have taken two years, but it did happen in the end, and now they should all be happy for another two years at least..


Pam in Virginia said…
Hi, Jo!

What a perfectly wonderful idea of using shells as aloe mulch. A two-fer for sure; Beauty and function.

GretchenJoanna said…
I also never thought of using shells as mulch - I recently ran out of little stones to put around my ever multiplying succulents-in-pots, but now I know to use some of my many shells, and reduce clutter (even if it is beautiful clutter) at the same time!
Hazel said…
I've just divided my poor neglected aloe plant too. I use collected stones and shells on outside tubs for mulch, but for some reason have never thought to do it on inside plants- looks beautiful.
Beznarf27 said…
Lordy it has been cold out here! Steve and I scurry outside, do "something" in the garden or shed for the least amount of time that we can possibly take to do it and then scurry back inside to bask near Brunhilda. I have a garden that needs building to plant out my strawberries (wicking beds aren't that great for strawberries), some blueberry shrubs and a couple of kiwifruit that I want to plant along the fence and it aint gonna make itself! We tried burning off debris yesterday and watched as the most joyful and hopeful little firelighter burned it's little heart out attempting to ignite dead garden debris to no avail. The pile is still on the driveway where we left it with the lifeless husk of the little firelighter inside the pile. We are going to put aside our plans to burn things till it gets a bit drier than "MUD" which is the current state of our "soil" here on Serendipity Farm. Kudos to you repotting your indoor plants. I did away with indoor plants and thus can bask for a bit longer in front of Brunhilda ;) I made the most awesome boozy sweet sourdough rolls the other day. They were magnificent! Herman sends hugs by the way. He has put on a LOT of weight living here but whatchagonnadoeh? ;)
Jo said…
Pam, 'two-fer' - love it. yes, beauty and function all the way , if at all possible :)

Gretchen Joanna, aren't succulents embarrassingly prolific? Well, all plants are, really. Since I have started propagating plants I don't know where it will end. I think I will have to start a nursery..

Hazel, it won't be long before I run out of the years' worth of collected shells. The girls don't return home from the beach with buckets of shells anymore.. I may have to start collecting my own:)

Fran, two things, one, when are you posting that potato bread recipe on your blog? And two, when are you opening your sourdough bakery??
Meg said…
O-oh! Now I'm feeling pretty bad about my forever neglected aloe in the big pot downstairs that sorely needs some attention. I walk past it always thinking, "Soon ... ". Amazing one can do that for years! Yours look great with the shell mulch, an idea I may steal when guilt does finally get the better of me and I turf the aloe out of its big pot. Meg:)
Hazel said…
Jo, I'm at that stage too. I even had to collect my own hag stones last time I visited my brother on the coast!

By the way, I did it ;-) www.diaryofnumber13.blogspot.com Nothing earth shattering but I decided I just needed to start and see how it goes. I think I'll find what I want to say as it goes along. Well I hope so!
Jo said…
Meg, I wouldn't feel too bad. Aloes love to be neglected. Mine was still in its tiny 5cm pot from the nursery, and I had to prop it up as it was so top heavy it kept falling over on the kitchen bench!

Hazel, squeeeeee! I love your new blog!!
Amanda said…
I love the idea of using shells to mulch around your plants. I would never have thought of that. It's very pretty. I'm off to the beach next week so may have to collect some.
Anonymous said…
I would like more indoor plants, but my track record with them is not great. I often overwater them, and some have cooked because of being in too sunny a spot. Succulents are very forgiving, though. I had some nice earthy little pots and bowls from op shops, and drilled drainage holes in the bases. I wasn't sure if they would shatter, but they are just fine, and I like them grouped together.
Linda in NZ
Jo said…
Amanda, it is pretty, yes, and it is a good way to show off your favourite shells. Very easy to re-use too, I pick them out and wash them off when I repot a plant.

Linda, even though I do a lot of gardening it has taken many years to come to terms with indoor plants. I still kill some, not as many as I used to! It is a very artificial environment, keeping plants indoors, and I have found it is critical to put the right plant in the right place. Your succulent collection sounds delightful. Like you I have been getting my builder to drill holes in pots for me. Seems to work well doesn't it?

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