How to propagate aloe

Wondering how to propagate aloe? Fortunately, these lovely succulent plants are very easy to propagate at home.

Basics for propagating aloe plants

Before propagating your Aloe plant, there are a few things you need to know. For example, the plant needs to be established before propagation. In addition, while you can propagate most houseplants from stem cuttings, Aloe plants propagate quicker by propagating with offsets. 

Offset potted up in planter pot
Here is a baby aloe plant. This plant grew as an “offset” off the side of mother plant. It was carefully separated off the side of the mother plant and replanted into its own planter pot.

Methods for propagating aloe plants

There are three main methods for propagating Aloe plants: offsets, stem cuttings, and seeds. That said, Aloe plants are almost always propagated from offsets, as this method is by far the easiest and is generally the most successful. Let’s look at each method briefly before getting into the details about how to propagate Aloe via offsets.

Aloe plant ready for propagation
This established potted aloe has some offsets growing off the sides of its base. These offsets (or “pups”) can be split off the main plant and repotted on their own.

1. Offsets

Sometimes called “pups,” offsets are lateral growing shoots attached to the mother plant and eventually develop root systems. Once offsets reach a quarter of the mother plant’s size, you can propagate them to grow new Aloe plants. If your Aloe plant isn’t ready for propagation, make sure it receives plenty of sunlight and let it grow until it fully matures (this can take a few years).

2. Stem cuttings

Most houseplants propagate well with stem cuttings. However, Aloe plants do not propagate with stem cuttings as well as they do with offsets. Offsets produce roots almost immediately, whereas stem cuttings take longer to establish roots. On the other hand, if your Aloe plant doesn’t have any offsets and you want to propagate, you can try using stem cuttings. Keep in mind; stem cuttings do not have a high success rate for propagation. 

3. Seeds

You can grow Aloe plants straight from seeds; however, succulent plants like Aloe take much longer to grow from seeds than they do from propagating with offsets. The seeds themselves sprout quickly, usually within 2-4 weeks. After that, however, the plant itself takes years to grow. 

Propagating aloe plant

Propagating aloe from offsets

Propagating Aloe plants from offsets, or baby “pups” that grow off the side of the mother plant, is a great beginner gardening project. Here are the supplies you’ll need and the basic steps to follow.

Supplies for propagating aloe from offsets

  • One healthy, well-established Aloe plant with offsets (“pups”) around its base
  • A sharp, clean knife or snips to cut with (make sure to disinfect your knife or clippers before use to prevent bacteria from rotting the offset)
  • One or more small pots or containers with drainage holes
  • Well-draining garden soil, preferably a succulent blend
  • A trowel (optional)
  • Rooting hormone (optional)
How to propagate aloe
Look at the base of the mother plant and make a plan for where to split the offsets off the side of the mother plant.

Instructions for propagating aloe from offsets

  1. Tilt the planter pot to the side and carefully pull the mother aloe plant out of its pot. Make sure you do not yank the plant as this can damage the roots. If your plant is not coming out, take a trowel and carefully cut around the roots to break up the soil. 
  2. Brush away as much outer soil as possible to look at the root system.
  3. Find a pup at the base of the aloe plant’s crown. Brush away the potting mix to get a look at the base of the offset.
  4. Cut the offset/pup away from the plant. The pup should include its underground stem and root bits. Make sure to carefully detangle the roots as you pull the freshly cut pup away from the mother plant to prevent breaking the roots. 
  5. Let the separated pup offset sit on a dry surface for a couple of days for the cut to dry/seal/callus over. This step is optional; however, allowing the offset to dry out and callus prevents bacteria from entering the offset and rotting it.
  6. Fill the bottom 1/3 of a planter pot with moist high-quality potting mix. Make sure your pot is at least 4-6 inches wide and has suitable drainage holes at the bottom. Succulent potting soil works well for propagating Aloe plants. You can also add rock grit, sand, or perlite to regular potting mix to increase drainage and prevent the soil from becoming too wet. 
  7. Set the base of the callused pup in moist potting mix to root, making sure to gently press the soil down so that the plant doesn’t fall out. 
  8. Move the planter to a location with bright indirect light that is not too close to the cuttings to avoid foliage burn.
  9. Monitor the plant every few days, watering before the soil becomes too dry. Aloe offsets grow best in moist, not soggy, or muddy soil. However, don’t water right after you plant your offsets to allow the roots to settle. After a few days, water your new plants. 
Established aloe vera plant
Propagate established aloe plants in the spring when they are actively growing.

When is the best time to propagate Aloe plants?

The best time to propagate Aloe plants is in the spring when the plants are actively growing. Actively growing plants are more likely to survive when divided than when the plants are not growing as quickly. 

Can I propagate an offset even if it doesn’t have roots?

Yes! Aloe offsets develop roots very quickly and will do so even if no roots are present when planted. When planting offsets without roots, make sure to mist the soil to promote root growth. 

Aloe vera growing in field
Aloe plants thrive in dry soil. Don’t try to root them in water alone.

Can I root my aloe offsets in water?

Because Aloe plants grow in dry, arid conditions, replanting offsets in a water container will likely kill them. Aloe offsets thrive much better in mostly-dry soil and will propagate quickly. 

Do I need rooting hormone for propagating Aloe plants?

Although not necessary, dipping offsets in rooting hormone powder before potting them can help with root development. If your offsets look healthy, you can skip this step. However, if they look damaged or don’t have roots, the rooting hormone may help significantly. 

What happens if I don’t propagate my Aloe plant?

If you don’t propagate your Aloe plant, it can outgrow its container. The larger your Aloe plant grows without being propagated, the higher the risk of decay. Propagating keeps the plant’s shape and also promotes new, healthy growth. 

Repot the mother plant in its planter
Repot the mother plant back in its planter after the offsets/pups have been removed from the sides of its base.

What do I do with the mother plant when I’m done dividing it?

Clean out the mother plant’s pot with warm soapy water to remove any bacteria. Then, replant the mother plant with fresh, moderately dry potting soil. Water it later in the week if it feels too dry.

Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a quintessential Canadian gardener. An engineer by trade, she tends to an ever-expanding collection of plants. In her world, laughter blooms as freely as her flowers, and every plant is raised with a dash of Canadian grit.

Mary Jane is a certified Master Gardener and also holds a Permaculture Design Certificate. She's also a proud mom of three, teaching her little sprouts the crucial difference between a garden friend and foe.

When she's not playing in the dirt, Mary Jane revels in her love for Taylor Swift, Gilmore Girls, ice hockey, and the surprisingly soothing sounds of bluegrass covers of classic hip-hop songs. She invites you to join her garden party, a place where you can share in the joy of growing and where every day is a new opportunity to find the perfect spot for yet another plant.

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