Aloe vera re-potting

The Aloe vera plant has been popular for decades as a balm or salve used to treat minor burns, cuts, sunburn and other maladies. Every household should have an Aloe plant as part of their first-aid kit.

You can do your part to spread the good news about Aloe by dividing your plants and giving them away to folks who don’t have an Aloe yet. It’s very easy to do.

As an Aloe plant grows, it forms small plantlets or off-shoots around the base of the main stem. They may or may not have roots. These can be gently pulled apart from the main plant and transplanted into new pots.

In this post I’m using an old Aloe that needed to be renewed. The same process is used for making divisions of an Aloe that might not be this far gone. Here we go…

Start by getting a potting mix together. I like to use  fairly coarse potting mix to which I add sand, fine gravel and other grit to help the mix drain water well.  Aloe doesn’t like to be in a soggy pot.

In this example, where the plant has grown too long between re-potting, the Aloe has developed a long, undesirable stem with a lot of dead leaves.

Fix this by cutting the stem an inch or so below the green active part of the plant. Peel off all of the “onion skin” until you reach the stem itself. Also, remove  any dead or dying leaves. The stem has dormant root buds that will sprout to form new roots to support the newly separated plant. A dormant bud can be seen just below the pencil point. If you rub your finger over the stem, the bumps you feel are the root buds.

Then just fill a pot (be sure it has a drain hole in the bottom) with your potting mix and insert the prepared Aloe cutting into the soil. Water the new plant and that is it.  You now have a new Aloe plant that will soon take hold in it’s new home. Here is An Aloe I transplanted a few weeks ago.  Look how nicely the roots are growing.

This brand new plant  can now be given away as a gift.  Everyone loves Aloe !

To use Aloe as a treatment for an injury, cut a leaf from your plant. Slit the leaf open and apply the jelly-like juice to the affected area. You’ll feel relief immediately.

It’s medicine you can grow right on your window sill!

Bob

86 Responses to “Aloe vera re-potting”

  1. rdluzen says:

    Hi Tracey, I think if you follow the steps your plant should be OK. Keep it in bright light but not in direct sunlight at first. Best of luck to you. Bob

  2. Sara Jonhson says:

    Thanks , I have recently been looking for info about this subject for a while and yours is the greatest I’ve found out till now. But, what concerning the conclusion? Are you sure about the supply?

  3. Melissa says:

    This was so helpful! Thank you so much Bob!

  4. rdluzen says:

    Hi Melissa, I’m glad this post helped. Best of luck to you.Bob

  5. Daren says:

    Hey there! I took over my mothers aloes a few years back and oddly enough they thrived. Doubled in size for the first 3 years, “Each Year!!!” The larger leaves are like the ones sold in some grocery stores, and I’ve had at least one bloom per year. That being said, potting is a nightmare! The root is as large as the plant! 24″ or more! My question is: “Can I cut the roots back?” How would I safely do this if so? Thanks in advance
    Daren

  6. rdluzen says:

    Hi Daren, I have always used the method of cutting the top back and re-potting it. In your case I would be sure to save an off-shoot or two in case the mother plant didn’t survive if you did decide to trim back the roots. Make clean cuts with a sharp cutting tool, use sterile potting soil and keep the plant out of direct sunlight while it is recuperating. Good luck with your aloe. Bob

  7. Laura says:

    I have some medium sized aloes which I have planted as you describe. However, they don’t seem to grow any roots! They don’t die, they just seem to grow over the edge of the pots and then shrivel some of their leaves (like the “onion skin” description you used). Basically, they are jumping out of their pots! I push them back into the soil, but they don’t have roots like you picture here. ?? What is going on? This has been going on for about 2-3 years!

  8. Mary says:

    Bob, Afraid that I am not a good gardener. I tried to repot as you suggested but later realized that it was not as easy as I thought and find that I messed up. I put my repotted plants in the pine straw under a tree where they get a half day of full sun. They look very terrible -gray and shriveled. However after watering them, one now has some green at the top. I didn’t understand the part about cutting about an inch below the green part. The picture showed more than and inch so I only cut a little off the root. What should I do about the long stem that will be left when I peel off the bad leaves? Can I cut it back leaving a only few root buds to develop? the original plant is the only one showing any green. I will continue to watch the others but am afraid they are not going to make it. I live in Mississippi and the temperatures are in the 90s. Should I put them inside the house? I was afraid they wouldn’t get enough sun but as I said, I messed up. Thanks for your site! Mary

  9. rdluzen says:

    Hi Mary, It sounds like your aloe may still recover. The extreme heat in your area may be a factor. Lets try moving your plant to a dappled-shade area. That way it will get good sunlight but not get damaged by the intense sun. Your thought about cutting back the long stem and leaving only a few root buds is the right thing to do. The roots will take some time to form so be patient.Bob

  10. Mary says:

    Thank you. Thank you. I am hopeful!

  11. viveka says:

    Hi! bob!

    I have an aloe that I’ve had since 08/09, and I only just replanted it and its pups. My problem is that the big aloe has a long stem, looks kinda like a tree, and is very unstable. It has root, but they’re very far away from the leaves since the stem is so long that even a part of it is visible above the soil. What should I do? I’m terrified of cutting the stem down and killing my precious aloe =(

  12. rdluzen says:

    Hi! I know what you are describing. I had an aloe just like that. It sounds scary but the stem will have to be cut. Gather up your courage and cut the top off of the long stem and re-pot the top as I described in the article. The roots will take hold and the plant will re-establish itself. Good luck with your aloe. Bob

  13. viveka says:

    Hi again Bob!

    So, I’v been working up the nerve to actually go ahead and cut the stem of my aloe, only to realize two things, first, right now my aloe is planted in regular soil for potted plants, do I have to buy for example expanded clay pebbles and mix with the soil? and second, my aloe seems to have yet another baby, which is TINY at this point, do you think it’ll survive if I cut the stem, or do I have to wait until it’s bigger?

  14. rdluzen says:

    Hi, You can use regular potting soil for your aloe but, you have to be more careful when watering. The regular mix holds too much water. Aloe likes well-drained soil which is why the coarse soil amendments are recommended. I have had some quite small aloes do very well — they have a will to live! Good luck. Bob

  15. Lynda says:

    Hi I’ve just bought my 1st Aloe Vera plant. As I live in the UK I’m worried that it will not get enough sun. Also, when watering, what amount do I give. I’m wondering if I’m giving enough. Advice would be appreciated. Thankyou.

  16. rdluzen says:

    Hi Lynda, Your aloe will adapt to the light level in your area, so it should do fine. During the summer, water it much like your other house plants. Just be sure to allow excess water to drain away. Best of luck to you. Bob

  17. Lynda says:

    I just transplanted aloe Vera’s. I trimmed the roots back, even a big root. Do u think I killed it? It was beautiful, I hope not

  18. rdluzen says:

    Hi Linda, Aloes are pretty tough plants. You probably didn’t do permanent damage. The plant will grow new roots if it needs to.Thanks for stopping by my site. Bob

  19. Suzy says:

    My aloe has pups growing off the side of the main stem, through the adult’s leaves. What can I do to keep these from killing the main plant? There are no roots as it looks like a three headed aloe.

  20. rdluzen says:

    Hi Suzy, Those pups will not kill the main plant. They really are just a growing part of the plant. As they get larger, you can re-pot them to grow new plants. Best of luck to you. Bob

  21. Suzy says:

    Bob,

    If they are growing out of the side of the main plant with no roots – how would I be able to repot them? This plant is 10+ years old and I don’t want to risk losing “momma.” She normally gives me 30+ pups a year and I have not had an issue thus far separating them from the main tap root.

  22. rdluzen says:

    Suzy, That’s good that you have not had problems removing those extra side shoots. They don’t have actual roots at this stage but they do have dormant cells from which the roots will develop. So after removing them, take off the lower leaves to expose those cells and place the plant into a pot with potting mixture. They will eventually root themselves. You may not even have to take off any leaves. In the future, you should have plenty of aloes to give away.

  23. Anna says:

    That’s NOT an Aloe VERA – it’s some other Aloe species.
    I have one myself that looks pretty much like yours and I’m trying to figure out what kind of Aloe it is. Please let me know if you ever find out which it is ;-)

  24. DigitalDave says:

    For “Daren” June 17, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    I have successfully cut the entire root off. Then removed any dead parts from the “Shaft”, then re potted. ( from a 10 inch clay pot to a 16 inch plastic pot in the summer of 2012) This is a plant that is potentially about 80 years old. It was in the same sized 10 inch clay pot for 30 years or more. So, it grew a long shaft that I wanted to reduce, since it was toppling the pot over. After doing this, the plant widened and leaves got thicker. It is about 3 feet wide now ( in 2 years ) And to my surprise … it has it’s 1st flower bub I have ever seen a few days ago. Like mentioned before, these thrive in the window during winter. Which I have been doing for over 40 years. But, this year I moved the plant out of the direct light, to partial light ( behind a tree in the same window )… This seems to have triggered the flower. However, I have moved these plants around in the window for years, ans never getting a flower. This may be because I live rather north ( in Chicago area ). These are hearty plants. Just keep them watered so the leaves don’t “wither”. Clay pots are better, they keep water longer.

    https://picasaweb.google.com/112000388773612428971/Aloe?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCIeJvIz9h9D9aw&feat=directlink

    This is a link to my Aloe plants and the new bud. You can see the original clay pot the “80 yr old mother” plant has a off shoot I started last summer. I will add more pics as the flower develops

  25. Liz says:

    Hi, Bob and everyone:

    I have a similar situation to some of the others who have posted–a HUGE aloe that is now on a leaf-less shaft/stem and is extremely unstable. I have it propped up with various items.

    It seems the advice here is to actually cut off the stem just below the leaves and re-pot, yes? Like the others, I am nervous about doing his but would live to stabilize my plant and perhaps get it to bloom (which it has never done in the 6 years I’ve had it).

    Please check out my post with pics on Gardenweb (link below) and let me know your thoughts. Thanks in advance!

    http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/cacti/msg0310472830941.html?1

  26. rdluzen says:

    Hi Liz, I finally had a chance to look at the photos of your aloe plant. This is a typical aloe after several years of growth. The thing this to do at this point is to renew it following the instructions in my blog post. I know it seems drastic but it will root itself again. Actually, if you peel back some of the dried leaves near the green ones, you can often see the small bumps on the stem that eventually will grow into roots. Take a deep breath and go for it! Best of luck, Bob

  27. Liz says:

    Thank you, Bob, for confirming what I thought might be the case. Once it gets warm enough to do this outside, I’m going to attempt it. Thanks again for the info and advice!

  28. DigitalDave says:

    I have a Aloe Vera ( confirmed yellow flower today )
    … And a sibling of the 80yr old plant has a flower developing now also.

    I don’t understand why after all these years I have flowers now.
    Having read some history of this plant, I learned they have not produced seeds in over 100 years or so.
    So, do I attempt to pollinate these flowers ? Seems this type of flower is expecting a humming bird ( or an insect of some type ).

    I’m sorry my previous link is not working. It was a private album. But, I moved it to the public space now. Here is the new link.

    http://picasaweb.google.com/112000388773612428971/AloeFlower

    Enjoy

  29. rdluzen says:

    Hi Dave, I looked at all of your photos. They’re great! You did a marvelous job chronicling the growth and development of the flowers — well done.I encourage everyone to follow the link to your photo album. It’s a nice addition to our blog. Thanks for sharing.
    Bob

  30. DigitalDave says:

    Hi Bob,

    Thanks for the Kudos.
    I have been using my electric tooth brush to pollinate about 4 days ago.
    Today I noticed a new growth from under one of the flowers.

    https://picasaweb.google.com/112000388773612428971/AloeFlower#6001055522540462530

    Have you seen this before? Maybe a seed sack ?

  31. DigitalDave says:

    Hello again,

    3 year old sibling plant of the 80+ yr old mother plant is now photo chronicling. Photo published today show the flower bud shaft just shy of one foot tall.

    https://picasaweb.google.com/112000388773612428971/AloeVera2

    The mother plant is being pollinated every morning. Some small growths don’t seem to be producing anything at the moment. The lower flowers are dieing and falling off the plant now.

  32. rdluzen says:

    Hi Dave, If that is where an old flower was attached, it is most likely the seed ovary with new seeds forming inside. Thanks for sharing your photos with us.
    Bob

  33. rdluzen says:

    Dave, Great photos, we enjoy seeing the progress your plants are making. Bob

  34. Pam Hunter says:

    Hello,

    I just bought a small aloe vera plant at Ikea and planted it immediately in Miracle-Gro potting soil. My question is that the plant doesn’t want to stand upright in the soil……it is listing to one side. I keep mushing it down into the soil but to no avail. Am I stressing over this for no good reason? Will it take root and stand up at some point?

    Thank you for your advice and support.

  35. rdluzen says:

    Hi Pam, No need to worry about your aloe. As you guessed, it will root and eventually grow in the right direction. I like to see aloe planted in a soil mix with a bit more grit in it than the Miracle-Gro. If you like, you can add some coarse sand, some unscented kitty litter and/or fine gravel to the mix and then replant.
    Best of luck to you. And thanks for visiting our blog. Bob

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