rooting Aloe plicatilis

sheloolieSeptember 9, 2012

Reposted this from an older inactive thread:

Posted by loolie So Cal, z10 (My Page) on Sun, Sep 9, 12 at 15:27

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!


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In my limited experience trying, this is one of the tougher species to root... I would clean the roots super well, douse in anti fungal powder, dry the plant out a week and then put in a pumice only and see if it roots (NOT watering it). I water my Aloes in the summer, but this one it particularly unfond of heavy soils. I have killed several by planting them in my clay. These definitely want very well draining soils. But it does seem to benefit from summer waters to keep it from looking like crap all summer (tends to go through more leaf loss than most species unless watered now and then).

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 10:46AM
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Thanks very much, lzrddr. I already cut the branches off the main trunk of the plant, so will be starting fresh with them, trying to get them to root. Main trunk still has roots attached. After reading on an older thread, I thought I'd let the branches begin to show root buds before putting in a rooting medium. Will use pumice. Maybe I can try to root the main stem as well, getting rid of the bad roots and proceeding as you suggest. Some roots still look sound to me. Might as well give it a try.

I have killed several of these aloes before, but always because I didn't take care of ant problems soon enough. There is a tall (7 foot) aloe thraskii in the same area as the plicatilis was, in the same heavy, clay soil. It looks quite healthy, though it started leaning over last winter and is now being supported by a tall garden wall. I do give it occasional summer water. I have to check all my aloes every month for signs of mealybugs and their ant overseers.

Thanks again, appreciate the advice.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 12:31PM
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If you can provide bottom heat it will help the rerooting process - putting it on warmed-by-the-sun cement is ideal.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 12:56PM
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Thanks cactusmcharris, I know just the spot.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 1:01PM
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I've had the opposite experience. Very easy to root, no bottom heat, no fungicide. Just cut, let dry and place in my regular potting mix and in a 3mo or so they are established. My plants are outdoors year round, no protection from rain and cold or from summer heat.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 1:54PM
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What is the climate like where you are, caudex1?

Our climate here is quite mediterranean, with very little (if any) rain from April to November. Not normally humid except for morning fog in summer.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 2:07PM
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Nor Cal zone 9

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 2:55PM
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hijole(9 Sunny California)

Loolie, Well you've received a few responses already but hey one more wont hurt especially if you end up going with the majority.

I too was a little concerned with rooting my Plics which I received my first one from a cutting & I wondered if it would take root. Well what I did was just let it sit for a couple of days and then placed it in well draining soil and the rest was easy, it was all patience after that.

Well my experience is that they are S L O W growers at least in my care and they did root, and I think maybe 3 Or 4 years later Bloomed for me too.

I too was wondering about watering because I tend to be used to regular plants that need water at least every other day so I have to restrain myself from watering to much.

Succulents as thick as these A. Plics have water stored up in their leafs and need water even less frequent ( I'm reminding myself as I write this.) so they need less water but just how much or How little only experince and experiments can tell so good luck and stay on the dry side, as they say , it's better to err on the dry side with these plants than to give them to much water and watch them rot. :(


    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 7:09PM
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hijole(9 Sunny California)

Pictures paint a thousand words.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 7:24PM
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Thanks, Greg and everyone else. I think I'll leave two of the cuttings out til I start to see root buds, and plant two of them in cactus and succulent mix at the end of the week. And I'll do my best with the main trunk that still has a few good-looking roots. And I won't expect anything to happen very fast.

I know these plants are quite slow growing--but starting from a rooted cutting that was about six inches tall with one small fan of leaves, this plant had grown to over two feet tall with four big branches, ten fans in all, in about seven years. That actually seemed pretty fast to me! I'm not impatient.

Okay, wish me luck! Hopefully I'll write back in a few months to say four new plants are alive and kicking.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 7:27PM
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