Even the most novice plant enthusiasts know what aloe vera is! Its many benefits make it a popular choice of houseplant. It’s no wonder that plant lovers (and health and wellness enthusiasts) want to be surrounded by aloe in their homes.
This succulent is known for its thick, gel-filled pointy leaves with thorns. They are stemless and can grow to about 12 to 19 inches in length. Most of all, aloe is known for its long list of benefits, from treating burns to providing relief from digestive problems.
If you want to make sure you always have some aloe handy, propagating your aloe vera (or a friend’s!) might be a good option. But how easy is it? Very easy.
In this blog post, I discuss step-by-step details on how to propagate aloe yourself — and the benefits you will reap from this mighty little houseplant.
What Are the Benefits of Aloe?
If you only use aloe vera to treat sunburns, you’re missing out on a host of other health perks the plant can provide! (Just make sure to follow a doctor’s advice when using aloe to treat yourself.)
1. Heals Wounds
Since the 1800s, aloe has been used as a topical medicine. It is particularly great for first or second-degree burns and is known to speed up the healing process compared to traditional medications.
2. An Antioxidant and Antibacterial
Famous as a natural skin care product, aloe is known for its powerful antioxidants, the polyphenols. It is also an antiviral and an antiseptic, which makes it ideal for wounds and skin issues. And its collagen content helps fight off wrinkles and increase your skin’s elasticity.
3. Dental Hygiene
When made into a mouthwash, aloe vera can fight plaque buildup. Plaque is responsible for tooth cavities and gingivitis. It can also treat canker sores and oral thrush. Get your mouth extra clean with aloe!
4. Reduces Risk of Illness
Since aloe lowers blood sugar, it can help those who are pre-diabetic or already ill from Type 2 diabetes. It also helps with GERD (gastrointestinal reflux disease) and constipation.
What Are Offsets?
The most common way to propagate aloe starts with offsets. Offsets are baby aloe vera plants. Aloe offsets are also called pups, babies, plantlets, and clones.
A mature aloe vera plant produces offsets, which grow from the stems or roots of the mother aloe plant. For their root system to develop and establish, they depend on the parent plant for water and nutrients.
What Do Offsets Look Like?
How do you spot an aloe offset? They’re the mini versions of the mature aloe vera. The main difference is, the grown aloe plant has thorns or prickles, while the offsets have white spots on them.
As the pups or offsets get bigger, the spots vanish.
How Soon Do Offsets Appear?
Aloe pups normally appear when the aloe plant is 5 or 6 years old. However, when the aloe vera plant is stressed, it won’t produce offsets. So it is important that you take care of your aloe properly if you’re hoping to propagate it.
How Long Does It Take For Offsets To Root?
Aloe babies can take up to four months to grow roots. You might have to use a little patience when it comes to these little pups!
Should You Water Offsets?
Yes, you should water baby aloe vera plants — but only when they feel already rooted in. When they have rooted, pups need to be watered more than you would a mature aloe plant.
It is advisable to water offsets every 10 to 14 days. However, when the offsets get fully rooted in, you must decrease the frequency of watering. During the winter season, pups need less water — just like any houseplant.
Avoid putting your pups under direct sunlight.
Do I Need To Propagate My Aloe?
While propagating aloe is not necessary for the plant’s health, it can be very rewarding.
Apart from reaping benefits from your collection of aloe vera, they can also be lovely gifts to friends and family. The receiver of the gift can also propagate their aloe, and you will be paying forward the plant’s many benefits.
How To Propagate Aloe
The most common way to propagate aloe is through the division method.
To propagate your aloe, you will need:
- A healthy and matured aloe plant with offsets
- A clean, sharp knife (or plant clippers)
- A pot with drainage holes
- Garden soil for succulents
- Rooting hormone (optional)
- A garden trowel
Step 1: Look For the Offsets
Pick aloe offsets that already have their own root system. It is important that you choose offsets that are already showing leaves.
You can find these little guys on the stem of your aloe plant — or sometimes around it. Sometimes, these babies are hiding at the base of the parent aloe plant. It can be tricky to find them, as they are normally concealed.
Step 2: Uprooting The Aloe Family
Remove the whole plant, including the babies, from its pot. Brush away the dirt until they are all soil-free. But please be gentle. You would not want to disturb the root system of both the parent and the offset.
If your aloe plant is in a garden bed, remove the entire plant family, including the pups, by using a garden trowel to loosen the soil.
Step 3: Separate Mom and Baby
With very delicate hands, separate the offsets from the mama plant. If it’s impossible to remove them by hand, you may use a clipper or a knife to cut the offsets free. Just be ultra careful to keep the root systems of the parent and the pups intact and undisturbed.
Step 4: Remove Damaged Roots
Now that they are all out of the soil, check the root system of the offsets. If you see rotten parts in the root, cut them off. Remove rotten roots from the parent plant as well. If your pups are left with few roots, dip the ends of the root in rooting hormone. This will help with regrowing roots.
Step 5: Repotting Offsets
In a dry, well-draining soil, repot the pups. Make sure that you don’t pack down the soil tightly. You need to allow the root system of the pups to adjust to the new soil.
Step 6: Bigger Pot For Mother Plant
While the offsets are now established in their new pot, you can return the parent plant back to its original pot. But it is better if you find a bigger pot to become the new home of the parent plot. It is important, however, that repotting the mother plant should have the same soil depth.
Step 7: Keep Baby Aloe Dry
As soon as you give the pups their new home to grow, do not water them. Keep them dry for a few days. Dry soil will allow the roots of the offsets to heal.
Alternate Method: Leaf Cuttings
Another way to propagate aloe is with leaf cuttings. With this method, you no longer need an offset. It’s as simple as cutting off from your parent plant.
Step 1: Cut the Leaf
From your mother plant, select a leaf and cut off a few inches from the top. As an alternative, you can cut almost the entire leaf — just don’t pull from the joint. Use a clean and sharp knife for a perfect cut. Do not simply snap it off using your hand.
Step 2: Dry the Leaf
Dry the cut leaf for a few days, until the “wound” or the cut has scabbed. The scab is your sign that the cut leaf has completely dried out.
If your cut leaf rots, though, you can’t use it to propagate. To cover your bases, you should go ahead and cut a couple of leaves to save time. Then if one rots, you still have another to use to propagate if it has successfully dried.
Or, you can dip the cutting into honey, which is an excellent rooting hormone and antiseptic. This will prevent the cutting from acquiring infection and rotting.
Step 3: Plant the Cut Leaf
Get a well-draining potting soil and pour it over a pot or container. Stick the dried leaf into the soil in an upright position. Then wait until it takes root. When it’s a large leaf, you don’t have to stick it upright into the soil; it can still take root.
Step 4: Moisten Soil
The soil must be constantly damp (not overflowing or soaked!). Your pot should be draining excess water. Additionally, mist the leaf cutting with water. Your plant will grow only if it has established roots and you see leaves actually growing.
Aloe Propagation FAQ
Can I grow an aloe plant from a leaf cutting?
Yes, that’s one way to propagate aloe. Cut off a leaf with a knife, dry out the cutting, then plant it in well-drained soil.
Can I replant a broken aloe vera leaf?
Yep! Stick the broken leaf one-third of the way into well-drained soil, damaged side down. Then water the soil until damp (not wet). Continue doing this for a month. Don’t be surprised when the leaf shrivels — it’s a good sign. It means it’s developing roots.
Should I trim my aloe plant?
Yes, trimming your aloe plant will help it look great. Prune leaves that are turning pink or brown; the color means they are dying. By trimming them, you keep the plant healthy.
Trimming or pruning is also a harvesting method if you want to get the gel inside the leaves. Cut only green leaves if you’re using the gel.
Easy, Sustainable Process
Propagating your aloe is easy and satisfying, helping you keep your aloe healthy and grow more for your own home or to give as gifts. Happy propagating!
Want more propagating fun? Here’s tips for propagating monstera plants!