Once you have mastered growing your now adolescent aloe vera plant, you may want to start raising another. The good news: you do not have to go to the store to get an additional one of these wonderful succulents. Breeding new baby aloe veras from your original plant is simple and inexpensive. By separating and replanting the bulbs of the plant, you can keep growing aloe veras. Let’s take a look at how you should propagate your aloe vera plant.
The Unique Structure of the Aloe Vera Plant:
Most plants in the succulent family, like cactuses, are best propagated in the traditional method: rooting. The process of rooting involves taking cuttings from a plant and placing the branches in new soil to develop its own roots and become an independent plant. However, due to the aloe vera’s unique anatomy, it needs to be reproduced in a different way.
High moisture content: Because of its high moisture content, aloe vera plants are not built to be breed from cuttings. When trying to reproduce an aloe vera, you leave the main plant alone, instead focusing on the outlying bulbs at the base of the plant. Taking a leaf of an aloe vera plant to root would only result in a dead or rotten leaf. When it come to aloe vera plants, just remember: rooting = rotting.
Rhizome root system: Luckily, biology has equipped the aloe vera plant with a rhizome root system that allows for an alternative way of propagation. Growing horizontally and shallowly, the rhizome is an underground stem that has multiple nodes from which shoots and roots grow. Although not ideal for cuttings, aloe vera plants can be reproduced by separating these bulbs, detaching the offshoots from the main plant. Simply put, instead of rooting an aloe vera leaf, you take the root of the aloe vera plant.
When to Propagate Your Plant
It is important to wait for your aloe vera plant to mature before you can use it to breed additional plants. As a general guideline, when the bulbs are 1/5 the size of your main plant, you can split up and replant them. Waiting until the bulbs grow to this size gives your replanted bulb the best chance at survival.
A Tutorial: How to Separate Aloe Vera Bulbs
Although broken off from the aloe vera plant, the bulbs are not broken. If you follow the steps outlined below, your aloe vera bulbs will develop into healthy, independent plants:
Things you will need: Make sure you have the following supplies on hand when propagating your aloe vera plant: (1) a clean, sharp knife or pruning shears; (2) potting soil; and (3) a new pot for the transplanted bulb.
1. Begin by familiarizing yourself with the structure of your aloe vera plant, working on identifying its bulbs. Remove the dirt around the base of the plant to get a better look. Also, remember that the bulb should have several shoots and an entire root system of its own when removed;
2. Once you have identified it bulbs and signaled one out for cutting, take out your knife or pruning shears and cut the bulb away from the main plant. Make sure the tool you have chosen is clean to avoid exposing your bulb–and future new aloe vera plant–to any diseases or contaminants;
3. After splitting up the bulb and the main plant, replant the detached bulb in a new pot with potting soil. You may want to make a mixture of half potting soil, half sand to mimic the dry desert conditions the aloe vera plant thrives in in its natural environment;
If your pot not does have a drainage system (i.e. hole in the bottom of the container), you will want to line the bottom with rocks to prevent any extra water from rotting or drowning your plant;
4. Press down the soil firmly around the roots; and
5. Water and take care of your bulb as you would a normal aloe vera plant. Sit back, and watch as your plant grows.