How to Root an Aloe Plant

About 400 species of plants make up the Aloe genus, including the common houseplant medicinal aloe (Aloe vera) and torch aloe (Aloe arborescens), a shrubby species that may grow to a height of 9 feet.

Aloe species are succulents with fleshy leaves, and most are not tolerant of cold temperatures. Medicinal aloe is winter-hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 12, and torch aloe is winter-hardy in USDA zones 9 through 11.

Growing an Aloe plant from a seed can be challenging, but many Aloe species can be easily propagated using vegetative techniques.

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Propagation with Offsets

In many Aloe species, the plants produce new, small plants -- called offsets -- at their bases. When left to grow undisturbed, offsets increase in size and create a gradually spreading clump around their parent plant. If separated from the parent plant and transplanted, however, the offsets take root and mature into independent plants on their own.

To separate offsets from a parent plant, carefully remove the parent plant from its pot or dig it up from its spot in the garden. Gently pull the offsets away from the base of the parent plant, cutting them away with a sharp knife if necessary; before and after you use the knife, disinfect it with rubbing alcohol and let it air-dry. Allow the offsets to dry for several days to one week so that any injuries from the separation have time to heal.

After the offsets have dried, pot them in potting soil that contains perlite, using one pot per plant and ensuring each pot's bottom has drainage holes. Plant the offsets so that the base of their leaves are just above the level of the soil, and firm the soil around them. Wait one week before watering the soil.

Propagation with Leaf Cuttings

Aloe may also be propagated from leaf cuttings. Use a sharp, disinfected knife to cut leaves from a parent plant, cutting at the base of each leaf you desire. As with offsets, the cut end of every removed leaf needs time to heal before it is planted; a freshly cut leaf is likely to develop an infection if it's planted too soon. Allow each cut leaf to dry for about one week, during which it will develop a callus at its cut end.

When the leaves are dry, dip each one's cut end in rooting hormone. Put a small amount of the hormone in a dish or on waxed paper, and dip the leaves' cut ends there rather than directly in the container of hormone.

Plant each leaf with its cut end downward in its own pot of pre-watered potting soil that includes perlite, ensuring the pot has drainage holes in its bottom. Pack the soil firmly to support the leaf. Allow the planting medium to dry out completely before watering again. Not all leaf cuttings take root. When leaf-cutting propagation is successful, though, the cuttings should produce roots within four to six weeks.

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