Aloes are quirky-looking plants that every gardener should try at least once. These succulents 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 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. 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. Pups rely on the parent for water and nutrients until their own root system is established. The result is a single parent plant growing outwards into a clump of many connected plants, each 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 sunlight. You may also give your plant some succulent fertilizer in the spring or early summer.
To propagate 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.
Necessary Equipment & Materials
Before you jump into propagating, have the following supplies on hand:
- One healthy aloe plant with pups
- A sharp, clean knife or clippers to cut with
- A pot or container with drainage holes
- Well-draining garden soil, preferably a succulent blend
- A trowel (optional)
- Rooting hormone (optional)
The Division Method
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 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 root development.
Step 6: Repot the offset in dry, well-draining soil. The roots need to breathe, so don’t pack down the soil tightly. While the pups 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 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.
Alternate Method: Leaf Cuttings
This method has a much lower success rate than division. If you have the option to propagate with pups, we highly recommend it. However, you may want to give leaf cuttings a try if you have a healthy leaf that broke off or if your aloe doesn’t have offsets.
Step 1: With a sharp, clean 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 leaf cuttings, 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. Once your 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 development.
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!