Did you know succulents like those from the genus Aloe are very easy to multiply? With a bit of patience you can turn one plant into a whole collection! Propagate Aloe to give to friends, further greenify your home or even sell.
Keep reading to find out how to propagate Aloe, including the popular Aloe vera, to get more plants for free.
How to propagate Aloe using pups
The most common and easiest way to multiply an Aloe plant is to use pups. Basically, a mature Aloe plant will naturally produce copies of itself that will pop up in the soil around it. These are referred to as pups or offsets.
Pups are attached to the mother plant. However, they’re actually self-sufficient. You can propagate Aloe by separating them and potting them up into their own container. Most of them will even already have their own root systems, but if they don’t, they’ll quickly grow one.
Here’s how you do it:
- Take an Aloe plant that has some pups growing around it. They should be at least around 1/3 of the size of the mother plant for the best chances of success.
- The easiest time to separate pups is when you’re repotting the mother plant, as you’ll already have it out of its planter at this time. It can technically be done at any moment, though!
- Take a clean pair or scissors or a knife to sever the pup’s connection to the mother plant.
- Pot the pup into its own little container. It should have a drainage hole and be filled with a well-draining and gritty soil type.
- Place the planter in a spot that gets bright but indirect light. Full sun is a bit too intense at this point.
- If the pup already has its own root system you can resume watering as usual. If it doesn’t, try misting the soil a few times a week. You’ll know you can start a normal watering schedule when you feel resistance if you give the plant a slight tug.
Did you know? On some mature Aloes, you may find offsets growing along the stem. You can carefully break these off and pop them into soil as described above. They won’t have their own root system like most soil offsets, but they’ll grow one in no time.
Aloe propagation from a leaf
Succulent propagation is possible using just a single leaf for many species. Unfortunately, this doesn’t really include the genus Aloe.
A quick Internet search will reveal plenty of advice regarding Aloe leaf propagation, but you’ll notice there aren’t really any photos. If there are, it’s usually a hybrid species like x Gasteraloe, which is not a ‘real’ Aloe.
The reason that leaf cuttings from Aloe don’t work is that the leaves simply don’t have the ability to regrow. If you try, you’ll find they just rot away. Too bad! Aloe propagation from offsets just works best, although there are some other options we’ll discuss below.
Propagating Aloe from stem cuttings
Depending on the exact species and the way your Aloe was grown, it may feature a good stem to take cuttings from. There are actually arborescent (‘tree-like’) Aloe species, like Aloe excelsa, which make prime candidates for this.
Taking an Aloe stem cutting is the same as taking a stem cutting from any other houseplant species. You just find a good point on the stem and make the cut using a clean knife or gardening shears. No worries about the beheaded mother plant: she’ll just grow a new “head” from a different growth point.
Leave the cutting for a day or two so it can callous over and then pop it into a planter prepared with well-draining succulent soil, as described in more detail in the succulent propagation guide. The great thing about succulents is that they’re very vigorous when it comes to rooting, so you should have no problem coaxing roots out of it.
Tip: Not sure what kind of soil and planter your new Aloe plants will need? Take a look at the guide to planting succulents indoors.
Propagating Aloe from rhizome
If you have a large Aloe mother plant, you may be able to multiply her using the rhizome propagation method. If you dig up these adult plants, you’ll find a thick clump of underground stem (the rhizome).
Even if there are no pups attached to this rhizome at this time, you can still cut it up and replant it. It should sprout one or multiple new Aloe plants eventually. Obviously this is not really the easiest way to go about things, but it’s a method you can use if your Aloe is really getting too large. It’ll yield loads of new plants!
Growing Aloe from seed
If you’ve been growing Aloe for a while, you might have noticed that many varieties flower pretty abundantly. A well-cared-for Aloe can produce a huge flower spike that really is a joy to see.
So, can these flowers be used to propagate Aloe by growing new plants from seed? Indoors it’s usually not an option, since the flowering plant won’t have been close to other Aloes and the flowers therefore will not have been pollinated. However, if you do have multiple flowering Aloes, you might be lucky enough to find some seeds once the flowers have faded.
Growing Aloe from seed is not the fastest way to propagate this species, but it can be a fun project if you want to try something a little different. Here’s how you can do it:
- Remove the seed pods and crack them open to reveal the small black seeds. Your plant has to be a few years old to reliably produce seeds, so if there are none even though the flowers were pollinated, just try again next year.
- Fill well-draining containers with a loose and sterilized mixture suitable for succulents.
- Spread the seeds and cover them with a thin layer of the growing medium.
- Carefully dampen the soil; it’s easiest to use a sprayer for this so you don’t disturb the tiny seeds!
- Place the containers in a light place (without direct sunlight) and keep them nice and warm. A heat mat can come in handy here.
- Moisten the soil daily and be patient. It can take up to a month for these succulents to sprout and they’re really small once they finally do.
- Once the baby Aloes begin to sprout, you can slowly switch them to a normal succulent watering schedule. This is the trickiest part, since it’s a fine balance between drying and drowning. No worries if it doesn’t work out, though: you can just try again next time your Aloe flowers.
Water or soil?
For succulents like Aloe, propagation is generally done in soil. They root so easily that there’s really not much reason to pass the cuttings through a water stage first.
This being said, if you love the look of houseplants in vases and glasses, you can definitely pop your Aloe pups into one. They do just fine when grown in water as long as only the exposed stem is submerged.
You can leave the plant in its vase indefinitely or eventually transplant it to soil once you feel like it. It might sulk for a bit in reaction to being moved, but the species is hardy enough that it should usually adjust without too many issues.
Now that you’ve got a brand new Aloe plant, you might be wondering how to care for it. Luckily, most species in this genus are pretty easy to keep alive, even for beginning houseplant enthusiasts. They’re hardy and will forgive the occasional beginner mistake.
Aloe care is pretty similar to that of most succulents. If you’ve grown them before, you know the drill: excellent drainage is the key here. For most succulents, lots of direct sunlight is also vital. Aloe likes plenty of light as well, although it can turn a brownish red when exposed to bright sun. This is referred to as heat stress and it’s usually not damaging, though it can be a bit strange to look at.
To figure out the ins and outs of Aloe care, you can check out the Aloe vera care guide (the species is also referred to as Aloe barbadensis). The tips in there can be applied to other Aloe varieties as well!
Buying an Aloe plant
Unless you have a friend or family member willing to gift you an Aloe offset, you’ll need a mother plant in order to start propagating. There are loads of different species in the genus Aloe: it goes way beyond just your regular old Aloe vera. There are even crosses between Aloe and other genera, such as x Gasteraloe.
You’ll be able to find the more common Aloes in your local garden center or plant store, since they’re one of the most popular types of succulents. For more specific varieties you can also try buying online. Get your Aloe vera or go for a more exotic cultivar like ‘Pink Blush‘!
If you have any more questions about how to propagate Aloe or if you want to share your own experiences with this popular succulent, don’t hesitate to leave a comment! 🌱
Cover photo: © Marina on Adobe Stock.