Thursday

Propagate Aloe Vera

keeping aloe plants I get lots of requests for information on propagating Aloe Vera, so here is my take on the subject.

Watch For Aloe Vera Plant Pups

As a succulent, Aloe is easy to keep and grow. It requires well-drained, loose, sandy soil that is low in nutrients. It needs room, lots of it, because it's a fast grower during the summer months. From a central whorl, it sends up small shoots or "pups". Your plant has the potential of becoming huge if you give it enough room to grow, and unlike many potted plants, you don't have to gradually step up the pot size.

Harvest Aloe Vera Plant Shoots (Pups)

Aloe only needs consistent watering during the spring and summer months, after that it can be watered once every couple of weeks or less. If in doubt about watering your plant, don't. Once the pups are at least a couple of inches long, they can be removed from the mother plant and set aside to let the torn end harden off (or callus over). Then they can be placed in their own pots.

Aloe Vera Plants and Frost

The one critical thing you need to watch with Aloe Vera is the temperature. If exposed to a hard freeze, you plant will turn into a dead, soggy mess before your eyes. I put my plants out of doors in spring and leave them out through summer and into fall. After one very bad experience, I now watch the weather reports, being careful to bring them back indoors before the first frost.

If you do suffer a disaster, though, don't throw your plant away. Sometimes enough root survives to make a come back, but it will take a couple of months.

Aloe Vera Plants and Water

As a matter of interest where water is concerned: About five years ago, I placed a pot in a little used guestroom and forgot to water it. It went at least two months without water, and looked fine. I don't recommend this, but it gives you an idea of how well Aloe Vera manages the water stored in its leaves.


43 comments:

  1. Happy New Year to you.

    My Aloe Vera is amazing. I have it in a pot on a sunny windowsill and it keeps getting pups which I re-pot. It's rather like having mice as my apartment is now like a mini aloe farm LOL

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  2. I had aloe-vera plant,which provided lot's of medicinal purposes, it was beautiful in spite everyone use to tear of a piece for cuts, unfortunate I placed it outside and die. I was very upset about it. I am trying to cultivate another one.
    Do you have any recipes to use in drink or lotions?

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  3. Anonymous2:32:00 PM

    My dad farmed Aloe Vera in his last days here on earth. I bought a house that has a bunch of the plants in the front yard. They just bloomed the tall, colorful stalk this November and I really enjoy them. I am going to try and farm them all over my yard because they remind me so much of my dad and are beautiful plants.

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  4. Anonymous,

    Thank you for sharing moments from your past. When I was newly married, a potted aloe vera was one of the first plants we brought into our home together. That plant lived happily for ten years.

    Sara

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  5. Anonymous2:57:00 AM

    I just did some separating and potting tonight, i purchased two plants about three years ago. One i've treated well and it's got big dark green leaves. It just propagated this year. The other, i left outside and thougt it was dead. I tossed it aside and was surprised to find that it had sprouted like ten pups the next spring. So after a quick separation last year, I'm repotting the 50+ plants/pups this year. What a wonderful mess.

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  6. Pups are so adorable. They're almost like little presents. I love propagating aloe vera too.

    Thanks for writing.

    Sara

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  7. I love my aloe plant, I got it a few years ago from a Home Depot, there were only a few on the shelf, discounted because they looked so raggedy (I think too many shoppers pinched the leaves off for fun!) and half dead. It took a little while but it really picked up and now the long lower leaves are probably a good 15+ inches... But it hasn't thrown any little baby aloe I keep hearing about! It's a little disappointing, as I had hoped to gift the little aloe to a few friends who've admired my plant.

    Is there any way to encourage my aloe to create offsets, pups, slips, baby aloe, or whatever else they might be called? I've repotted it twice now, once upon purchase and once again last year when needed. I let it dry out occasionally, and the leaves rarely ever get pinched off for burns.

    Any help is welcome, thanks!

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  8. Anonymous1:24:00 PM

    my aloe are in refridgerator drawers. started out with 4 adn now i also have a small farm. i have given at least 50 away and have at least that many to give again. i think the trick is the sunny windowsill and just time. the babies are just little plants off the main one that come from the roots. just dig around them adn repot the baby. ive noticed that they like to have friends nearby. once they take off, have friends in mind to give them to. i can give gifts for very little cost and people love them.

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  9. Anonymous11:33:00 AM

    i LOVE ALOE!!!!!!

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  10. Anonymous11:36:00 AM

    I think Aloe is just amazing!!!

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  11. I have to agree with you. I've had nasty burns that stop hurting seconds after I apply the gel from an aloe leaf. It works better than anything I purchased from the pharmacist.

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  12. I am growing my aloe vera indoors and it is doing well so far. My only concern is that some of the pups growing off the center are becoming so big that they can't hold themselves up and are falling over creating a crease in the leaf and I don't know how much damage this is doing. I am unsure if I should cut that pup off, or if them falling over is a sign of not enough sun. Please let me know your thoughts. Thank you very much.

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  13. Hi Kgbelarus,

    Thanks for visiting.

    I haven't had the problem you're describing, but in doing a little research, it seems to be pretty common. I think you would probably do well give your aloe more sun, at least six to eight good hours of light (southern exposure if possible) a day. Cutting back on watering might be a good plan too, at least for a while.

    If you want to start the wounded pups in new pots, remove them and let them harden off in a cool spot for a couple of days and then pot them up using a good cactus mix. Begin with small pots, say two inches larger than the width of the leaf, and work up from there.

    I hope this helps.

    Sara

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  14. Anonymous5:26:00 AM

    hello all- my aloe isan't producing pups- it's huge and wont stop growing but no new offsets to date. It's in my bathroom and doesn't get a great deal of light but we've had it for about 5 years now. I was going to give it away and then realised that was mad. i want to start using it productively but would like to work with the smaller ones (but dont have any). Not sure what to do, does anyone have any hints or tips- your's a pupless jo

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  15. I have lots of pups on my aloe plants but they keep getting such long stems that the whole plant falls over - I've tried using stakes to keep them up - which works for awhile - but I don't know how you can keep them for too many years (stem just keeps getting longer). Perhaps this is lack of sun? They are under a skylight, but don't get full sun especially in the winter.

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  16. clymenuos10:54:00 PM

    we are thinking of buying an aloe vera because I get too many burns from hot oil in my cooking. Is it hard growing it from seed or should I buy it half-mature? I really don't know...

    I would love to get some pups to sprout out on my plant. One of my friends wants to grow some but they can't afford it.

    What should I do?...

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  17. Clymenuos,

    Aloe vera is great for burns, and I'm sure you'll enjoy adding a plant to your collection. If price is an issue, try joining a plant exchange or club in your community. You may be able to trade seeds or seedlings from something you do grow for an aloe vera pup.

    Good luck.

    Sara

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  18. Anonymous7:20:00 PM

    I have a question that I'd love to have answered fairly soon! I just harvested the pups from my great big Aloe vera plant. They had establish roots so I just repotted them. Should I have allowed them to harden over a few days even though they had roots? Also, the mother plant was so top heavy that it toppled over when I repotted it even though I supported the plant with stakes. So this is what I did: I cut each stem (each swirl?)off of the stalk. Can I propagate by waiting for each stalk to harden off then "plant" each in soil? Or did I mess-up and should find some use for 9 fat aloe vera stalks. If the plant cannot be propagated is there a way to harvest the sap and make some useful product out of it. I know that I have asked many questions but would greatly appreciate answers to my questions. Thank you. I'm Susan in NYC.

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  19. Hi Susan,

    I'll try to address some of your questions and maybe well also get comments from others. I have experience with some of your issues and not with others:

    I think the pups will be fine as long as they already have established some roots. Hopefully you didn't do much damage when you removed them.

    If you removed each large leaf at the flat, base portion and it's not torn and gooey, you can plant it right away. If the torn or cut end is wet, let it harden off as you would for a pup. (Just set it aside for a few days before planting.) I've had outer leaves fall over and ultimately just pulled them off the mother plant and potted them in sand successfully.

    If you discover that some of the leaves aren't viable, you can scrape off the interior sap and use it in salve. I don't have a recipe handy, but this link should get you started: http://en.allexperts.com/q/Herbs-Health-3224/2009/3/aloe-vera-salve.htm

    Unfortunately, fresh aloe is pretty is perishable, but you'll be able to extend the life of anything you make in the fridge for a number of days. There are lots of recipes for aloe vera drinks, but I've never tried them. A general Google search should yield lots of interesting results, though.

    I think the prognosis is pretty encouraging. Aloe vera is very hardy and this is a good time of year to separate the plant into smaller segments.

    Good luck,

    Sara

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  20. Anonymous11:16:00 PM

    Greetings Sara,
    Thank you wholeheartedly for your prompt response. I am encouraged. I actually cut each leaf off; I have about nine leaves. I am going to spread them out on sheets of paper towels;put them in a spot that is well lit but does not get direct sunlight;and hope that they "harden off" in a few days. I will then place each leaf in Miracle Grow potting soil(the one that is specifically for cactus and citrus) that I just purchased. Then I'll pray! Again, thank you for your kind attention. I'll keep you posted.
    Thank you.
    Susan (actually in the Catskill)

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  21. Anonymous6:52:00 PM

    Several years ago my big beautiful Aloe vera was sacrificed to heal my husband after a motorcycle accident. He had cuts and scrapes all over his body. We used the gel every day. Not only did it heal his wounds but he is without scars! The Aloe survived but never thrived again. About 8 months ago I bought a new one. She has been outside all summer. I repotted her today because she had 3 pups. I've read that when Aloe veras become rootbound it forces the mother plant to send them up. She was definitely rootbound & in only 8 months. Hope this helps those of you not having babies.

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  22. Thanks for contributing. Aloe vera is really an amazing herb -- and so easy to grow and keep. It doesn't ask much and gives back a lot in return.

    I'm glad your story has a happy ending. Don't be a stranger.

    Sara

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  23. Anonymous12:21:00 PM

    Hi, I have an large aloe that is blooming. Most of the bloomes have fallen off now but under a few of them some sort of bulb looking things are coming up. Do you know what these are? Will they produce a flower? Also, some of the leaves at the bottom are turning a yellowish brown color and are not firm. Do I need to cut them off? All of the leaves were standing up but all but the top crown seem to be laying down now. What is wrong with my baby?

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  24. My best guess is that you may have over-watered your plant. Since your aloe vera has stopped blooming, withhold water for a while and see if the base firms up and turns green again. If you did accidentally over-water your baby, a little judicious neglect may take care of the problem.

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  25. Anonymous6:51:00 AM

    Did you know that the juice that comes out stains?

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  26. My name is Nitin from Toronto. I am interested in your writing. Some of your posting are good, I can say, best. Can you please tell me how to subscribe to your blog post online?

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  27. Hi Nitin,

    Thanks for writing. Right now, you can subscribe to my blog as an email notification or an RSS feed. Both links are in the upper left corner of the page under the welcome paragraph. Again, I really appreciate the feedback.

    Cheers,

    Sara

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  28. Very informative post.. thank you.. Peace and love

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  29. Anonymous6:06:00 PM

    I have an aloe plant that is not producing pups anymore, but i do have these pod like things that are coming up. Do i need to get rid of these, are they hurting my plant?

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  30. I think you might be referring to the flowering stalk. You can find a photo here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/48747546@N08/4481252211/

    S

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  31. Anonymous9:39:00 PM

    I've pulled aloe from the pot and tossed them in a basket and left them on a shelf for a year. All they did is shrink until I remembered them and re-potted. They're growing fine now. I also over-watered a large one to the point that the base rotted at the top of the root. I twisted the plant off, leaving the root and let it alone for a few weeks; ten more grew back.

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  32. Anonymous6:46:00 AM

    I've always planted my aloe plants in over-sized pots which tends to produce pups. Pups that I don't need I give as presents.

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  33. Anonymous9:00:00 AM

    I have a Very BIG Aloe plant had it for wow about 10 years repotted 2 years ago and doing get in my bed room. I have never proagated the pups i just let them keep growing with mom. haha
    Is that ok she is so beautiful and i use her leaves on my face. Just wanted to share.

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  34. Anonymous1:46:00 AM

    why is my mom aloe vera a solid green while my pup has stripes. I've noticed this with other people's pups.

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  35. Hi My late husband had several aloe plants. The mother of the others I still have. Its huge, and I mean huge! He had it over 30 years! I have repotted it. I really lost a lot of it when I did. But, I shared and started many new ones from it. Other than using it on my constant son poisoning in the summer, I'm just not sure what else to do with it. I would love to find a soap recipe if there is such a thing. Does anyone know how to use this in soap or even in shampoo?

    Yes, It's so helpful to sun poisoing.

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  36. Thanks for your post on propagation! But just how long does it take an aloe plant to form one "pup", or offset? Thanks again!

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  37. Drew,

    I think the aloe vera is stimulated to produce pups once the plant becomes root bound. Aloe grows quickly in good light, so don't repot your plant -- and wait for the magic to happen.

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    Replies
    1. Hi i live in England. I BROUGHT my first aloe vera plant 4 /5weeks ago from the local Zoo. It was root bound so i placed it in a larger pot. However it keeps producing pups but is now way now root bound! Dose this mean it a very healthy and happy Aole :-)????

      My other question is. I brought another aloe 2 weeks ago upon repotting this i had found a pup grown down into the pot not upwards! It in its own pot but the stalk of the plant is bent on its side. (No damage but its just how it has grown) I m too scared to move it as it seems very solid steam and will snap, baby leaves that are about 3 inches and are being towards light but not the stem HELP PLEASE!!!

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    2. I recommend replanting your aloe vera, removing any immature plants or pups in the current pot for transplantation into other pots. Cut away any dead growth and replant the central stem as vertically as possible, with a wooden stake support if necessary. You can remove most of the root to get the shape stabilized. Aloe reroots pretty readily. Off-kilter plants can be the result of sun direction (rotate the occassionally), overwatering (leaves can get heavy and begin to list to the side, becoming fixed that way. Plants can also become contorted when they're kept in small quarters (small pots) too long. Consider repotting aloe vera every year or two. Spring and fall are good times.

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    3. You might also want to visit my post: How to Repot an Aloe Vera Plant: http://theherbgardener.blogspot.com/2014/09/how-to-repot-aloe-vera-plant.html

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  38. Anonymous9:19:00 AM

    I found out that the aloe will produce "pups" or offsets if the plant is root bound. I had one to get really big and added more soil to top it off & not repot it & in a few weeks it was producing...I haven't repotted it in 2-3 yrs. & the pot is a virtual thicket with lots of babies....

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  39. I have a gigantic Aloe that has spread out so far I don't have a good place to put it in my small apartment. I got it as a gift about 2 years ago, already a medium sized plant in a small pot, the plant being about a foot high and in diameter. I repotted it about a year ago in a slightly bigger pot, as it was getting too big for the original pot, but it has never produced pups and is now so tall it is falling over. Honestly, I put it in my bay window and stopped watering it at all.. well maybe an occasional cup of water now and then, out of pity... or is in hope of finding a way to cut it back and keep it...a smaller version of it. Sadly, much of the outside shoots are turning brown, but there are several center shoots that are green and look healthy, despite the rest of the plant's sad condition. I'm wondering if there is a way to take the center shoots out and plant them as a starter plant? Also, is there a way to keep these plants from getting out of hand, getting too big?

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  40. Hi Caroline,

    Here are my recommendations:

    Take the plant out of the pot and remove any side shoots (offsets) that have roots attached. If they're in okay condition, start them in their own pots.

    Cut away leaves that have no roots and are showing signs of decay. Use a sharp knife. Discard these.

    Cut away any additional leaves that are in good condition but make the plant too large for your needs. Set these aside in a warm, dark location for a day or two for the cut ends to heal. They can also be planted into new pots if you're interested in starting a whole colony of aloe vera plants -- or giving them away as gifts.

    Take a look at the root system of the center portion of the plant. Trim longish or dead roots and other debris. You can get aggressive here. The base of the plant can grow new roots quickly and has a store of water in reserve in the meantime. (A good grooming will help control regrowth and discourage problems with mold and bacteria.)

    Replant the groomed plant in a somewhat smaller pot than the original. Aloe likes to be root bound, and a smaller pot will be a better fit. It will also curtail future growth somewhat. You'll see little root buds at the base of the plant that will produce a new vigorous root system. Bury the plant stem until it's slightly above the topmost root buds.

    You can do this annually in the fall to help keep the plant's size manageable.

    After repotting the original plant, offshoots or leaves, the aloe vera may turn brownish or gray. This is temporary. After a week or possibly two, the plant will revert to its original color and upright habit.

    Give newly potted plants one good watering and then leave them alone for a few weeks to encourage root development.

    I hope this helps.

    Sara

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