Aloe species are quirky-looking plants that every gardener should try at least once. These succulent plants are great for beginners because they thrive on neglect. Aloes also help clean the air and are highly medicinal, particularly the well-known aloe vera.
Perhaps one of the most overlooked benefits of aloes is that they’re very easy to propagate. Not only is propagation an exciting project, it results in lots of plants and saved money. Whether you’re propagating aloe vera to fill out your garden or make gifts to share, we guarantee you’ll have fun!
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Aloe Plant Propagation
What makes aloe propagation so easy? The answer is simple: offsets, or baby plants. While wild growing aloe vera or other aloes like aloe brevifolia may propagate by seeding, they mainly propagate through their offsets.
Offsets, also called pups or offshoots, are clones that grow from the stem or roots of the parent plant. Aloe pups rely on the mother plant for water and nutrients until their own root systems are established. The result is a single parent plant growing outwards into a clump of many connected plants. Each is a baby plant with its own roots.
Aloe plants usually don’t produce offsets until they’re a few years old. In general, the older and healthier the plant is, the better it will grow pups. To encourage your plant to offset, give your aloe plenty of direct sunlight, and a good cactus mix. You may also give your plant some succulent fertilizer in the spring or early summer.
To propagate aloe vera from pups, you simply have to divide the plant. This is by far the easiest propagation method for aloes. Aloe vera propagation can be done any time of year but is best during the growing season (spring and summer). Now, without further ado, let’s go through the propagation process, so you can have a brand new aloe plant.
Necessary Equipment & Materials
Before you jump into propagating aloe and making new aloe plants, have the following supplies on hand:
- One healthy aloe plant with pups
- A clean, sharp knife or clippers to cut with
- A pot or container with drainage holes
- Well-draining garden soil, preferably a succulent blend potting soil
- A trowel (optional)
- Rooting hormone (optional)
The Division Method for Propagating Aloe
Step 1: Search for the pups on and around your aloe plant’s stem. Not only will they be at the stem, pups may be hiding at the base of the mother plant. They may be fully obscured by their mother’s large leaves. Each offset should have at least a few leaves and its own root system.
Step 2: Take the entire plant, pups and all, out of its pot and brush away as much soil as possible. If planted in a garden bed, use a trowel to carefully loosen the soil and remove the aloe plant and its pups. Be careful not to disturb other plants growing nearby. Be careful of the root systems for both the parent aloe plant and its offsets.
Step 3: Gently untangle the pups from the mother plant. If needed, use a knife to cut them free, but don’t cut the roots. Take your time with this step so that you cause as little damage to your aloe vera plant as possible.
Step 4: Now that it’s separated, examine the offset’s roots for any damage. Cut free rotten or unhealthy portions, keeping as much of the root intact as possible. You may want to check the mother plant’s roots for damage as well.
Step 5: For offsets with few or damaged roots, dip the ends in rooting hormone to encourage new growth. While this is not always essential, rooting hormone does help with development of root systems.
Step 6: Repot the offset in its own pot in dry, well-draining soil. The roots need to breathe, so don’t pack down the soil line tightly. While the pups from the mother plant are small, they still need to adjust to the fresh soil around their root system.
Step 7: Put the mother plant back in its pot. You may also use this chance to upgrade its pot for a larger one. Whether you’re doing aloe vera repotting or another plant, it’s the same process. Plants should be at the same depth they were growing at in their old pot. The same is true if your aloe plants were in a garden bed.
Step 8: It’s tempting to give your baby aloe plant some water as a housewarming gift. However, keep it dry for a few days. The roots need time to heal from the move, which is best done while the soil’s dry. Gradually begin to water your plants again after a few days to a week have passed. Now you’ve successfully accomplished propagating aloe vera!
The Alternate Method: Using Leaf Cuttings
This method has a much lower success rate in creating new aloe plants than division. If you have the option to propagate aloe vera with pups, we highly recommend it. However, you may want to give leaf cutting a try if you have a healthy leaf that broke off or if your aloe doesn’t have offsets.
Step 1: With a clean, sharp knife, cut off a portion of a leaf from your chosen mother plant. Unlike most succulents, the leaf doesn’t have to be removed at the joint. You can remove just the top few inches or almost the entire leaf. Make sure the cut is clean and neat, not jagged.
Step 2: Let the cutting dry out for a few days. The area where you cut it will scab over as it dries out. There’s a good chance that instead of drying it will simply rot. Unfortunately, this means that the cutting isn’t going to grow and you’ll need to start with a new cutting.
Step 3: Fill a container with well-draining potting soil and stick the cutting upright in it. You can also just lay it on top of the soil, especially if it’s a large cutting. Rooting hormone isn’t necessary for cuttings of leaves, so you won’t need it here. They’ll take root on their own.
Step 4: Mist cuttings with water, keeping the soil constantly damp, but not soaked. Offset them from direct sunlight. Indirect light is best. Once your aloe plants have established roots & new leaves and are reliably growing, adjust back to a water schedule that suits your plant’s needs. Remember that the soil should drain off excess water easily for healthy plant and root development.
You can also propagate via stem cuttings, as long as your stem cutting has multiple root nodes forming around its base. However, this is a risky method for propagation. It’s best to use offshoots or leaf cuttings to make more aloe plants.
That’s all there is to propagating aloe plants! Now you can expand your aloe collection without spending a dime, or share them with others. No matter your gardening level, we recommend you give it a try – aloes are lovely in the garden!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can you grow aloe vera from a cutting?
A: Yes, you can grow baby aloes from a stem cutting. As long as you cut a stem that has several root nodes, you should have no problem with successful Aloe barbadensis propagation. Leaf cuttings are easier for propagation.
Q: What is the best way to propagate aloe?
A: The easiest way to propagate aloe vera is to support your current plant and remove the offsets when they grow at the base of aloe plants to be planted elsewhere.
Q: Can you replant a broken aloe leaf?
A: You can make new plants this way, but it’s the riskiest way to propagate your aloe with the lowest success rate. Be sure to let the cutting dry before you plant it in substrate.
Q: How do I start a new aloe vera plant?
A: Leaf cuttings, root cuttings, and pup propagation are all viable methods for starting a new aloe plant. Some are better than others, and all are easier to accomplish than planting seeds.
Q: Will aloe cuttings root in water?
A: While you can root aloe leaf cuttings in water, this is risky as the roots are more susceptible to root rot than they are if you root them in succulent or cactus potting mix.
Q: Can I cut aloe vera leaf and use it?
A: You certainly can! To use the aloe leaf for its gel, cut as close to the leaf base as you can, and remove.
Q: How long does it take for an aloe cutting to root?
A: You’re looking at 4 to 6 weeks for rooting aloe cuttings in potting mix. Then you have new plants!
Q: What is the lifespan of aloe vera?
A: Each aloe plant will live for about 12 years.