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How to Transplant Aloe Vera
As we transition into fall and the end of the growing season, we may start to think more about our indoor garden than our outdoor one. And what better way to keep a little green in your life than with an easy-to-care-for and useful houseplant like aloe?
If you’ve had one for any length of time, you’ve probably noticed the little aloes growing alongside the main plant, which are adorably called “pups.” Once these aloe vera pups are large enough, it’s a good idea to split your new plants and repot them. Here’s how to transplant aloe vera!
Knowing When to Transplant Aloe
Aloe plants generally don’t mind living in close quarters, so don’t rush to transplant them as soon as a pup appears. Look for multiple pups to appear that are roughly 3-4 inches tall, then think about transplanting. Even once they’re larger than that, the mother aloe can still live happily in its current container for several years before a lack of nutrients and overcrowding takes its toll.
Similarly, if you only have one large aloe plant so far and it appears to be too big for the container, you don’t need to transplant it immediately. If it starts tipping over in its pot, it’s probably time to transplant. Otherwise, wait until it’s clearly unhealthy even after getting sufficient light and water.
Basically, you should watch for any signs indicating that your mature plants or the little plants are unhealthy. If the parent plant or baby plants around it show signs of stress, then it’s the best time to learn how to transplant aloe vera and get them moved into their new containers.
What You’ll Need
The first things you’ll need are a suitable number of pots with drainage holes, along with a high-quality cactus/succulent potting mix. You can use regular potting soil if you don’t have access to a succulent mix, but a specially formulated kind of soil will always be best for them.
As far as how large the pots should be, it all depends on how big you want your aloes. A small pot will keep the plant on the smaller side, while a larger pot will allow it to grow much bigger. Any pot can be the right pot if you want it to be! If you’re unsure, try to use a pot that’s at least as wide as the plant is tall – typically 4 inches in diameter. Ceramic pots, like these terra cotta pots, are a great option, but plastic pots work well too.
Of course, the most important thing you’ll need is the original aloe vera plant. The new pups should be at least 3 inches tall before you attempt to transplant them.
Replanting Aloe Vera
First, gather your supplies and prepare your workspace. Repotting outdoors is ideal, but if it’s rainy or cold, just put down some newspaper and work indoors.
Gently remove your aloe vera plants from their current pot. If there are just a few smaller plants, you might be able to pull them out at their base without damaging the rest of the plant. If they’re large, or if you want to repot the mother plant as well, take the whole mass out of the pot.
Working carefully, pull each plant’s roots apart from the main root ball. If a few break or have to be cut with clean scissors, the plant should be fine, but try not to break any that you don’t absolutely have to. This helps prevent disease.
If the roots completely break off of one, you can try to get it to grow new roots by following this method:
Waiting Period – Or Not!
Once all your aloe pups are separated, you have a choice. You can either leave them out to dry and heal for up to a week, or you can immediately repot them in the new container. Leaving them to heal for at least a few hours may help them grow healthy and strong, since it reduces the chance of them picking up a disease or getting transplant shock. However, I’ve directly transplanted mine for many years and never had one die, so it’s all up to you and how much risk you want to take.
To leave it to heal, brush as much old soil off the roots as possible and leave it in a warm area with full sun for up to a week. A south-facing window is an excellent spot. Otherwise, brush off as much of the dirt as possible and proceed immediately to the next step.
When you’re ready to repot (whether that’s immediately or after letting it sit), fill your new pot about halfway with well-draining soil. You can add a few rocks to the bottom of the pot to help with drainage and to save on how much new soil you use.
Adjust your pup to make it stand upright in the center (some have grown sideways) and add soil around the outside. Don’t plant it deeper than it was growing before. Pack the fresh soil in tightly to keep the plant upright. By the end, your soil level should be close to the rim of the pot.
After you’ve transplanted, you don’t need to water for two or three days. New aloe transplants need time to settle into their new home before receiving too much moisture. When you do water, always let the plant dry out before watering again to avoid root rot. Stick your finger in to see if it’s still damp first. If it is, wait longer before watering. Aloes always prefer dry conditions to getting too much water, especially when they’ve been recently introduced to a new environment. (Check out the full guide on watering aloe vera plants and fixing an over or underwatered plant.)
Keep your new aloe in a warm location with indirect sunlight, and watch it grow for a long time to come!
Enjoy Your Aloe!
Aloes are incredibly easy to transplant and keep alive. They’re almost foolproof – I have one that only gets watered occasionally, has lived in indirect light all its life, and was transplanted in regular garden soil (gasp!) rather than potting soil because I didn’t have any at the time. And guess what? After at least four years, it’s still here. Not super huge or super green, but it’s alive and has even grown a few pups!
So while I’ve given you tips on how to transplant aloe vera for long-term success, try not to stress too much. Chances are good that your spiky green friends will be just fine, no matter how you choose to replant them. Overwatering them is pretty much the only way you can kill them.
And if you’re like me and have WAY too many after transplanting all the pups, consider giving some away or putting them in unexpected places. They make excellent inexpensive gifts for friends and family, especially for those who enjoy plants but don’t think they have a green thumb. You can also take your spares to work – either enjoy them as office plants or leave a few out for coworkers to take.
Geraniums make great indoor plants as well – here’s how to overwinter them inside!