Growing Aloe Vera
Before you can propagate an aloe vera, you want to ensure that the mother plant is healthy and well-grown. Use cactus potting mix or something similar that will drain very well. Make sure pots have adequate drainage holes. Grow the plant in bright south or west windows and water only when the soil is obviously dry. Fertilizer is rarely necessary; at maximum, feed once a year with high-phosphorus liquid fertilizer.
Aloe Vera Pups
A healthy, well-grown aloe vera will usually begin to produce pups once it is mature, which may take several years. These pups, or offsets, are miniatures of the mother plant and genetically identical. Initially, they draw their water and nutrients from the mother plant, but eventually, they will form roots and begin to grow on their own. They can be removed and replanted at either stage.
Propagating Aloe Pups
Remove the pups by cutting them from the mother plant with a sharp clean knife or by gently twisting free. If the pup has roots, make sure to keep them attached. Plant rooted pups at the same level, unrooted plants about one-half inch deep. Replant in a small pot with fresh, well-moistened potting soil. Do not water for a week or two – it increases the chance of rot.
When an Aloe Vera Plant Won’t Set Pups
Although most aloe veras set pups readily, occasionally a plant does not pup. These might be possible reasons;
- The plant is not yet mature; this could take several years.
- The plant has too much room; aloes tend to pup more freely if slightly pot bound.
- The plant is too “comfortable;” pupping often occurs as a survival tactic.
- The plant is not getting enough light; aloes are full-sun, desert plants.
Propagating from an Aloe Leaf
Aloes can also be propagated from leaves. Cut the leaf at the base and allow it to air dry for about a week. Prepare the pot and water the soil so it’s thoroughly moist. Plant the leaf about one inch deep. Provide support to keep it upright in the pot if necessary. Do not water until the soil is completely dry. A good cutting will remain green and plump.