Repotting (& rerooting?) Ailing Aloe Vera with Perlite

minnesota_flo(4A)March 8, 2012

I read on a message from 3-16-08 originally from neuva_gardener and answered by xerophyte_nyc on 3-17-08 on an Aloe sick from overwatering rot. Perlite was suggested, without watering, until the leaves were growing again.

My plant is a baby off of my mom's humongous one that is no longer around. My sister has the other baby that is doing very well. They're both in the original sand from my mom's pot. Mine is losing it's color and going limp. I bought some African Violet soil (I found advice somewhere on that) and am thinking of checking out the roots and using the perlite to nurse it back to health (if there's any chance left). The advice said NOT to water it until growth resumed. I was wondering if you ORIGINALLY WET the perlite before not watering it. I don't know if the roots are all rotted, or not, but wanted to have the materials and know-how on hand before digging around in it.

My windows are mainly east and west and it hasn't seemed happy in either area. My Christmas cactus, a Hoya and a hyacinth are all happy in the basement under a full-spectrum fluorescent light. It must've been too cool for this little guy because he didn't like it down there, either. I DO have a little southern exposure but it'd have to sit on the dryer.

Any advice? I'd really like to keep this little guy alive. My mom had the original for probably 30 years. She passed away in 2004 so it's kind of in memory of her to keep it. Thanks!

P.S. I couldn't get the search feature to work. I hope I'm not repeating something recently mentioned.

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No, don't wet it.

There's an FAQ which will help you out.

Here is a link that might be useful: Aloe FAQ

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 10:36AM
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Thank you cactusmcharris! I did see that FAQ but still don't understand. If the roots ARE mostly rotten, would I cut those off and just put the entire (small) plant in straight perlite without water until it decides whether to recover or not? Do I nick it to give it a place to start to root? I really am a NEWBIE at indoor plants. Usually I stick with the outdoors variety. Thanks, again!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 10:47AM
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Yes, you'd cut off the rotted roots, and push the base slightly into the soil/perlite mix. Don't water it, just mist it every few days - in two months or less, you should have roots, provided it's warm and sunny where the pup is. This plant would grow best out of doors (in the summer) if you can, but it will begin rooting inside until it's warmer out.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 11:29AM
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Thank you, cactusmcharris!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 11:51AM
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If rot is in the main stem above the roots, it will be necessary to completely transect the stem until the cross-section shows no dark infected tissue. Then dry the cut in the air for several days and plant as described above. Do Not water until you see signs of growth indicating that roots have formed. This may take several weeks or more.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 1:12PM
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Thank you, paracelsus! So -- when you say dry the cut in the air for several days, do you mean that the plant is just cut off totally and not in anything for all those days?

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 1:21PM
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Yes. Aloes have plenty of water reserves, and can survive for months without roots or water. Just lay it on its side and let the cut callous. Then plant in dry soil that is at least 3/4 inorganic particles like perlite, pumice, gravel, etc. Then do nothing and wait for roots.

No roots, no water. Let the succulent do what is designed to do, survive long periods without water. Succulents thrive on benign neglect. If in doubt, Don't! In this case, don't water until you are certain the plants has roots.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 1:55PM
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Again, thanks, paracelsus! So...even if my poor thing is ailing pretty badly (due to me not dealing with it while being distracted by life in general) and already a bit 'flat' -- this is the way to go, right? At least my sister's is healthy if I've left this one too long. least it's a succulent! :-)

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 2:14PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

FYI: (I know it wasn't your doing but) in future, don't use any kind of sand on these, it makes things worse as you're discovering.

Also after cutting & before putting in perlite to root, you could sprinkle cinnamon (yes, like used in the kitchen used for baking, etc). It's an anti-fungal & helps stave off rot.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 4:48PM
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pirate_girl: Thank you for the advice with the cinnamon -- it sounds like a good idea that I'll want to try! Thanks to ALL of you for your help!

I hadn't connected the sand to its problem, though. My mom's was in this very sand for about 30 years and my sister has a baby still in it that is thriving. Mine isn't, for some reason. It certainly needs a change. I must have some other element that sent it over the edge. Perhaps the temperature, lighting or heat PLUS the sand did it in. Thanks, again!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 11:07PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I have rooted aloe cuttings by letting them hang out in a shaded spot ands misted till they form root buds and THEN I put them in the soil. They can't take moisture till they have roots. I just put a tiny cutting in the soil that I had forgotten ALL winter. It is growing now. I just took 8 more cuttings off of various aloes ( aborescens, X spnosissima, glauca and a mystery hybrid) and I stuck them in a pot of large limestone gravel. I water the rocks occasionally. That keeps a humid atmosphere and a dark place. I find that helps the succulent cutting and echeveria, sedum, pacheveria, etc. to develop roots quicker. I have about 15 pots of rocks out on my deck with all sorts of surprises.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 12:33PM
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I'd like to get this thread started again--have an A. plicatilis that was in the ground growing pretty well for 7-8 years, though it has been looking a bit scraggly the past six months or so. I thought it was mealybug infestation, which is a constant problem here with aloes, and have been trying to control those (and the ants that herd them around).

Plant was about 2 feet tall with four main stems, each of them divided into two or three smaller stems (10 fans of leaves altogether). My gardener knocked it over when trying to remove old leaves, which was actually a lucky thing because then I was able to see that the roots are black and soft and the whole plant was loose in the ground. So I have cut off the branches, which seem very firm and free of rot, and am just leaving them outside on a table in the shade to root. My question is, should I cut each individual branch with its fan of leaves into a separate cutting, or is it okay to root a bigger branch that includes 2-3 smaller branches?

And one more question--should I not water this aloe at all in the summer (once it's rooted and in a pot or the ground again)? Is summer watering always a bad idea for this species? I have tended to water it deeply once a month or so when the weather is dry. It was planted in rather heavy soil. Other areas of the garden have much better draining soil.

Thanks a lot for any guidance!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 3:27PM
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