Aloe: Make Cuttings or Will I Kill It?

VonBonLerouxJuly 8, 2011

I have an aloe plant that is thriving on my kitchen windowsill. The problem is that it has gotten too tall for its pot and will soon topple. I read through the FAQs and found a website that has a great tutorial on dividing aloes, but all the info I've found directs one to divide off "pups" or offshoots. My aloe does not have any pups/offsets/babies at the root base. It is just one tall stem. I think it will look bad if I take leaves off, but the other option is to have it topple/break. I don't want to just re-pot it in a larger pot because that will necessitate moving it outside. We get freezes in the winter and I don't want to have to "baby" it through the winter. I've had some nice, big aloes die in the past because of frost. I've started over and I'd like this one or a smaller plant from it to stay inside on the windowsill if possible.

My goal is to cut off "leaves" and start them in new pots. How can I do this? I read I should not simply cut the top off because it will have no roots. Since it has no pups, should I just cut one or two of the lower leaves off? Should I then place those onto the potting medium (cactus mix), secure with gravel, and mist? Or should I lay them out on a dry surface for a few weeks before potting? Options for laying out are a dry, hot garage, partial sun, full sun or a warm room in our house.

Thank you in advance! I really want to learn how to divide and propagate succulents and cacti the right way. And I'm enjoying this aloe specimen a lot; I don't want to kill it or make it look ugly.

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cactusmcharris

You can't - Aloes don't regenerate from leaves. If your Aloe doesn't have pups, I'd trim off the largest leaves and repot it, in fresh soil, in the pot you have it in now.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 6:06PM
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VonBonLeroux

Thank you; I'm not sure how to take care of its height though. I could trim off the lower leaves and put it back in the pot with fresh soil, but it will still be tall and ready to topple. Just to give perspective, all of the leaves are about the same size; there are some smaller ones here and there, but the bottom leaves are about the same size as the top leaves. It's kind of strange that way; not like other aloes that are broad at the bottom. It's tall and skinny. It gets a lot of light throughout the day, but maybe not enough direct light? Maybe that's made it tall and spindly? Thanks again.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 6:18PM
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VonBonLeroux

Also, a little confused because the FAQ on aloes says:

"If it has no roots, let it callus over, place the cut/broken end ON the soil, and support it with top dressing. DO NOT WATER IT-it has no roots, so watering the soil will likely cause rot. Instead, mist it every few days. Roots should start forming within a month. When growth is evident, it can be watered."

Thought this was talking about leaves/cuttings? Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 6:37PM
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paracelsus

If the plant is etiolated, grown tall and spindly from lack of light, the only way to correct it is to cut off the top and re-root. This will require a lot of patience, and willingness to trust that the plant has enough water stores to last until it has time to grow roots, this might take a couple of months. If you don't correct the light problem, it will resume its un-natural growth pattern.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 7:15PM
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VonBonLeroux

Thanks for the suggestions. I'm just guessing it's tall and skinny because of the light. I guess there are thousands of aloe species, but most I've seen are shorter and broader. It's not very old, so maybe that's why there are no pups yet.

paracelsus, if I cut off the top and re-root it, should I let the cutting dry (callous) for a few days/weeks and then put it in cactus mix or should I just set it down on top of the soil surface and secure it with gravel (don't want it to rot). Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 11:30PM
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brodyjames_gw

VBL,

"If it has no roots, let it callus over, place the cut/broken end ON the soil, and support it with top dressing. DO NOT WATER IT-it has no roots, so watering the soil will likely cause rot. Instead, mist it every few days. Roots should start forming within a month. When growth is evident, it can be watered."

This is NOT talking about leaves...Jeff is right about not propagating aloes from leaves...it can't be done.
This quote is talking about the base of the actual plant...where all the leaves emerge from. If there is damage, you cut the base (what might look to you as a giant root) and let that callous over before planting. I did this with mine and I got roots after about 2 months, but I live in WI and it was winter.
What kind of aloe are we talking about? I think we are all assuming Aloe vera, but there are a few tree aloes...just want a little clarification. :)

Nancy

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 9:49AM
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cactusmcharris

vbl,

A picture would enhance our knowledge greatly, and the help rendered thus far would even be more expeditious and to the point, too. We try hard to stamp out unnatural growth patterns, and would like to help you do it, too.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 11:36AM
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norma_2006

Just cut off the stem at the top about six inches down and plant it in dry soil, wait a week and water, this time of the year it can take sun, and lots of air. Air helps prevent rot or molds it also requires good light so it won't grow tall. It does not like living in the house, in a tiny pot. I don't mean to be so frank, but I'm trying to save your plant. It will not grow from a leaf, it will grow from seed, offset, or stem. Norma

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 7:37PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

What Norma said, just don't give it a whole bunch of direct sunlight all at once. Gradually give it more and more light so that it can get accustomed to the difference and not sunburn.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 9:25PM
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serre

got a aloe cutting and i would like to know how to root it the right way only have 1 piece somebody plz help! thanks

    Bookmark   December 15, 2012 at 11:55AM
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cactusmcharris

I'm guessing you have enough for a plant - a picture would help us, but the Aloe FAQ is likely to answer your question.

Here is a link that might be useful: Aloe Facts and Suggestions

    Bookmark   December 15, 2012 at 2:38PM
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