By Bonnie L. Grant
Aloe vera is a popular houseplant with medicinal properties. The sap from leaves has wonderful topical benefits, especially on burns. Their fabulous smooth, glossy, plump foliage and ease of care make these houseplants ideal additions in the home. Often, people want to share their aloe plants with friends and wonder how to start an aloe plant. Let’s take a look at rooting an aloe vera plant from a leaf cutting and separating aloe pups.
About Aloe Plant Propagation
Many people ask, “Can I grow an aloe plant from a leaf cutting?” You can, but the most successful method of aloe plant propagation is from offsets or “pups” with resulting plants almost immediately.
Aloe vera is a succulent and, as such, it is related to the cactus. Cacti are fairly easy to propagate from cuttings, but aloe vera cuttings, with their high moisture content, rarely become viable plants. Rooting an aloe vera plant leaf seems like it should work, but all you will get is a rotten or shriveled leaf.
As a result, aloe vera cuttings are not the most reliable method of plant propagation. A better way to share this delightful plant is by removal of offsets.
How to Start an Aloe Vera Plant
Separating aloe pups, also known as aloe offsets or aloe offshoots, is a simple process that even a nervous home gardener can undertake with few tools and just a little knowledge. Aloe pups are essentially baby plants that share part of the root system of the parent plant, so all you need to do to start an aloe plant from a pup is to wait until it is big enough to remove from the mother plant.
The removal size of the offset will depend on the variety of aloe. As a general rule, wait until the offset is at least one-fifth the size of the parent plant or has several sets of true leaves.
Very old, large aloes can have their pups removed from them when they are small, but they must still have enough leaves (at least three) to produce their own plant sugars for survival. The pup must be mature enough for rooting an aloe vera plant successfully.
Steps for Separating Aloe Pups
Once the aloe pup is the right size, remove the dirt from around the base of the pup. Examine the area and determine where would be the right place to cut to remove the aloe pup. When the pup comes away from the mother aloe plant, it should have a complete root system attached.
Use a sharp, clean knife to cut the aloe pup away from the mother plant. Clean tools are important for separating aloe pups, in order to prevent contamination by disease and pests and produce a clean surface that will mesh quickly with the planting medium.
Plant the newly removed pup in dry cacti potting mix or make your own with one part potting soil and one part sand. Allow it to sit for one week, then water the soil. After this, you can care for the aloe vera pup as you would a normal aloe plant.
You may then pass along the freshly started succulent to devoted gardeners and friends.