Tame That Aloe! How to Trim Your Out-Of-Control Aloe

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Has your once clean and tidy aloe turned into an unruly beast? What a difference from when you just brought it home! When left untrimmed¬† for a long bit of time, your aloe can get a bit wild, those long leaves getting even longer, starting to grow low to the ground and perhaps even corkscrewing into a tangled mess. Didn’t think trimming your aloe was necessary? Think about what your hair looks like when you wake up from a night of sleeping with wet hair. Yikes, right? Gotta use a ton of products to get it looking normal again. That is what’s happening here. As your aloe plant grows and grows, you need to take some scissors to that plant. Grooming is an important part of keeping your aloe healthy and beautiful. Prune that plant!

Trim an Aloe Plant: But What Do I Trim?

Hold up there! Before you start removing leaves all over the place, let’s take some time to answer a foundational question: what should you be removing from your aloe to keep it in check? While the extent to which you trim your plant depends mostly on its needs and your own desires (try asking yourself these questions: what does my plant need, or not need, to look healthy? How do I want my plant to look?), here are some plant pointers. Generally, you want to take off:

  • the outer leaves

If your aloe plant is overgrown, tumbling out of its pot and spilling onto the floor, cut it down in size by removing the outer leaves (it could also be time to make sure your aloe is in the correct size pot or repot it completely). Because the outer leaves on your aloe are the oldest, they should be the first to go when your aloe gets a little too big to handle. The leaves on the inside are not only new, still growing and healthiest, but they will also be more difficult to get at with a knife or razor without accidentally snipping the stem or otherwise damaging your plant. Take off the outer leaves to give your aloe the easier and most efficient haircut.

  • dead or damaged leaves
  • dried up leaves
  • brown or otherwise discolored leaves

No matter what causes your aloe leaves to die –whether it be disease, insects, frost, over- or under-watering, too much sunlight or what not–when their life draws to an end, they should be removed. Dead or dying leaves left attached to your aloe will drain your plant’s energy, as it will focus its time and strength on trying to revive long-gone leaves than to maintaining the health of its other leaves and blossoms. Also, be sure regard these symptoms as a sign of poor health. In other words, take them seriously. Try to figure out why some of your aloe’s leaves are displaying the symptoms they are. If you don’t take the time to find out the underlying cause of leave decay, damage or death, you may wake up one morning with an aloe too far gone to save.

  • flower stems and blossoms as soon as they finish blooming

For the same reason you should remove dead leaves, you should also remove flower blooms as soon as they begin to die. You want to give your plant more energy to spend on other things: producing more flowers or thicker, healthier leaves. Whether you are using your plant for medicinal purposes or as an aesthetic decoration, dying flowers will only hold it back. Keep in mind that dead flowers can also attract bugs, especially if they fall into your aloe’s pot, accumulate and become soaked from watering.

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  • the suckers or aloe “pups”

Want to control your aloe’s size? This tip is a big one then. Suckers, sometimes referred to as “pups,” are offshoots of the mother aloe plant that can be removed and repotted to create a brand new plant. Propagating your aloe when suckers appear is a great way to reduce the width of your aloe, increase its energy and get extra aloe plants, either to keep or give away as gifts! Just wait until the new pups get about 4 or 5 inches tall, then untangle their root ball from the mother plant’s and replant away! Before you know it the baby aloe plants will be growing big and strong!

To Trim an Aloe Plant, What Do I Use?

Get out your trimming tools! Try a sharp knife or razor to get a nice, smooth cut when removing aloe leaves, flowers or suckers. Use a blunt tool and you could end up damaging your plant instead of helping it get healthier.

How to Remove Entire Leaves or Flower Buds

You might think that removing an entire leaf from your aloe would harm your overall plant. But exactly the opposite is true: cutting off unnecessary leaves will encourage your plant to grow and be healthy. But you must remove entire leaves and flower buds properly: taking that sharp knife or razor and placing it at the base of the leaf or flower stem to remove it completely. While the removed leaf will not regenerate and grow back, taking it off will allow the smaller, new leaves in the core (center) of you aloe to grow and get bigger.

Nothing Goes to Waste!

Instead of throwing those cut leaves into the trash, turn them into a nice medicinal aloe conditioner, hair oil, cream, etc. If you took off leaves that were dead, dried up, damaged or brown, ditch those. But if you were just removing outer leaves to cut your aloe back a little, don’t toss them so quickly! Recycle, recycle! Slice healthy leaves open to get to their medicinal gel and get working on making something aloe-related. Cream could help clear up your acne; conditioner can give your locks a boost of shine. Not using the aloe gel right away but wish to keep it for later? Take the leaves you removed and store them in a plastic bag in the fridge. Aloe gel is ready for whenever you need it!

None of the above information constitutes the best trimming tip, however. More than anything, you need to know that less is more. When raising that knife to your plant, always remember to trim sparingly. You can always remove more. But put a gaping hole in your aloe or give it a bald spot and there is no going back! Gotta wait for it to grow!

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Comments

    • Chris says

      Hi Melissa. As long as the leaf is still good it can be sprouted.

      You will want to take a pot and some cacti soil, or like I do from my outdoor plant some of the natural soil, and plant the leaf just deep enough to hold the leaf upright.
      *make sure your pot can drain well
      *Do not water at this point. All you need to do is just lightly mist the leaf that you are sprouting.
      *Watering it at this point will just cause it to rot and not take root.

      I hope this helps.

  1. jessica says

    okay my aloe vera plant is growing way big and has all kinds of little pups are on it but its outside how am I able to get the whole route out for the pups if its already so big? Without removing the mother aloe plant.

  2. Anyta says

    Hi, and thanks for the info. I have a lovely, large aloe. It keeps growing and growing. I have removed so many leaves from the base over time that I have a strange stem with a heavy aloe plant balancing on top, and leaning against the window for support. Aside from repotting, what can a do to manage the leafless stem? Can I cut the stem down, or would that kill the plant? Thanks!

          • Nik Nak says

            I am not a plant expert at all, but my aloe had a long stem and practically no root system- it was learning so far out of the pot that it was always falling out of the soil and not do very well. I cut the stem and then dipped it in lots of rooting hormone and stuck it dipper into the soil. It grew stronger roots and and even some babies. It also looks way better, not such a long stem. Hope this helps

    • Charlotta says

      OK Nik Nak, I’ll give it a try.That’s what I have also on 2 plants. One is huge and the other not bad. I’ll just try this. THANKS

  3. Brianna says

    Like Anyta, I also have a long-stemmed aloe and has to lean to one side. Is it possible to trim the stem so it fits better in its pot?

  4. Raven says

    Hello! I always use my Aloe for Medical Purposes, but I was wondering if its alright to break off a the tip of a leave to use for medical purposes. Thanks!

  5. Leanne says

    Hi my aloe Vera plant has just finished flowering but I still have the stem on as noticed where one of the flowers was there is a bud like thing that has appeared what is this and what should I do with it.

    Many thank
    Leanne

  6. Irene DiMaggio says

    What can I do with the leaves that are in excellent shape,,..I don not want to plant them? Can I make something….

    • Cassidy Planas says

      Honestly, you can make lots of things from healthy aloe leaves that has been cut off. You can make conditioner for a renewed shine to your hair, you can make a cream for acne control, you can just rub it on your skin as lotion (which feels nice and rejuvinating), you can use the inside gel for making stuff like my examples, but you can also use this gel to help heal and relieve any burns, including sunburn. To find out how to do any of these just look it up and a tutorial should pop up with very detailed instructions. Hope his helped!

  7. Hanna says

    I usually use trimmed leafs like this: I cut them in one inch size pieces and put them in a box in the freezer. When I need moisture in my face or need to treat a cut I take one piece of it let it melt in room temperature and peeles off the green aloeskin and smear the gel over my face or the scar or over my hair, nails, sunburn, wounds etc.

    • Cahlinny says

      Thanks for the tip! I just had to remove many leaves from my aloe as it got sunburned :( and I didn’t want to waste them, but I wasn’t sure how to store correctly. My husband is a surveyor and so often gets sunburned (also), so little frozen “cubes” is a perfect solution!

  8. Beth says

    I’m having the same problem with my Aloe plant just growing and growing and getting totally out of control. I’ve read here, too, that several people have written about this. My plant has this huge, ugly, heavy thick stem and is causing my plant to lean and fall out of the pot. I feel helpless with what to do and need help in how to handle this problem. I’d like to know how to prevent or limit the growth of the huge stem that the leaves grow off of and causes the leaning. I really thank the one person who wrote with how maybe to help, but I am surprised that nobody else has replied. It is a big problem for a lot of us. Anyone out there to help with this problem will be much appreciated. Thanks for any help.

  9. Carla says

    My aloe plant has many pups. The mother plant is in the pot but the pups are on long shoots & are outside of the pot. How do I repot the pups (they are not in any dirt, and are only connected by a long stem?)

    • Mia says

      I am definitely not a plant expert but I would recommend cutting the stem that connects them, but make sure it is not a root because that could hurt the plant.

  10. Cristina says

    Hello, i have a big aloe plant that got damaged from the cold season and me being a rookie in plant care I didnt know that it would get damaged leaving it out, I hardly watered it but now I noticed the leaves are brown have moved it where the sun doesnt hit it directly. I also have noticed that it has a couple of pupps underneath the moms big leaves and new leaves are growing from the brown ones but my question s what should i do, should i cut all the brown leaves off to where the new ones start or should i leave them on since new ones are growing out?

  11. jemi says

    Peace abd Greetings. Please help. I have been growning my aloes for years now without major problems but now aomeyhing seems to be killing them one by one. I had four oversized aloes i love and two are now gone. Id like to save the last 2. The problem atarted with one of them seemingly outside of nowhere the plant seemed to have collapsed on itself. Root seemed rotten when i gotta it out. I tried to save the second one displaying simiar symptoms of browning leaves that were weak at stem point. Pruning and even dug up root. I cut the root to see if it was rotting and hollowing out like the first one. It was not so i was hopeful. I put the root and top plant back into the soil hopefuls it would be ok. I even got a miticide thinking i might have a mite. I think i shoud try to put the third one outside a few days now that the weather is nicer. I am in zone 7. Please help!

  12. Danielle says

    I have a 18 year old aloe plant that was given to me. It has grown so big I don’t know what to do with it. It leans really badly and I have to support it with large rocks or risk breaking the stem. The leaves are huge and drooping. I have it in aloe soil, and it seems to like where I put it where it gets just the right amount of sun. Do I need to print it? Or put it in a deeper pot? Or is this normal for an 18 year old aloe plant? It’s leaves are over a foot long!total width is about 3 feet. Help!!

    • Laura says

      I have cut my aloe off at the dirt twice now. I have had it for many years and it grows fast! I move the cut off crown to a new pot (strip the bottom few leaves to expose the inner core) and it grows brand new roots and grows thicker and healthier. I leave the old roots and stem in their original pot and they sprout all new pups within a couple of months.

  13. Amanda C says

    Hello,

    I was given an aloe vera plant from a friend who knew I was interested in purchasing one. I removed two “pups” from the plant with no problem. But, my issue is the stem! I am unsure how old this plant is, the mother plant I’ll call it. It is sort of bending one way and then at the top of the plant, it is bending another way so it’s not really leaning to just one side. It doesn’t have tons of leaves on it so it’s not really top heavy I’d say. I don’t know tons about these plants, but I feel like if I could cut the stem and re-pot the plant so there isn’t just tons of stem sticking out of the soil that this would really help it a lot. Can I do this? Will it harm/kill the aloe vera plant? Killing it is my biggest fear! This is the first aloe vera plant that I’ve had.

    Thanks for your help/advice!

  14. Virginia says

    My aloe is huge, all pups are snipped, lower leaves have died and been cut off. I need to take it from its huge pot (been repotted at least 4 times into bigger pots) and plant it outside in the ground. How deep do I plant it? Will the areas where dead leaves were cut off need to remain above the ground? HELP!

  15. Chris Taphorn says

    Hey gang,
    I was recently given a nice bunch of aloe plant from my neighbor who has a huge overgrown pot of the stuff. He told me just to lay it on my soil (sunshine mix #4 in a 3 gallon pot w/ great drainage) and water it in. His was in his sun-room, and the bunch given to me was under a 50 watt 5000k cob led in my basement with some other veggie seedlings and cuttings. It was sustained, but certainly didn’t thrive by any means. It is summer here now (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) and I have placed it outside for the last 70-80 days. It has taken off!! New shoots everywhere. The old plant that was laid on top of the soil has now become a laid rooting system for a huge amount of new shoots. I have trimmed off all the old dying growth to make way for the nice, new growth. Some of the new shoots are standing 7″ tall.
    Here is my question/observation:

    I recently had a minor burn and decided, “hey, I’m gonna take a chunk off ol’ Herb there”. The piece I took off was a nice healthy shoot, the tallest at the time. But now 2-3 weeks later I notice it is no longer growing vertically, but filling out horizontally and becoming a very stocky, broad, fat, succulent leaf.

    Also, our growing season is very short, the time to bring in the aloe will be soon. If I were to “top” all of the “fingers” that are growing vertically, would that promote the broad growth I have witnessed above? I do not want all this nice healthy growth to die slowly over winter due to poor lighting indoors and flop out of it’s pot. I figured if it were a nice squat plant it would be able to hold itself upright a bit better.

    Thoughts or similar experience anyone?

    Thanks Much!

  16. Gloria says

    Would it be ok to put a plastic bag over my plant for the winter? This would be the first year for having it in the ground and we sometimes have snow during the winter. I live in southern Illinois across the river from St Louis.

    Also I thought of bringing the plant back into the house but I am concerned that it will bring bugs in with it. What do I do to protect from this happening?

  17. Stacie says

    Please help! I’ve had this main aloe plant, Mama Cleo, for about 8 years! It has been through many pups and has survived many years of improper care. I put it outside on my patio this summer and she revived herself and grew another baby! However, there were many damaged leaves I had to remove once I brought her back inside due to the chilly weather (see the bare spot on the stem?) While outside on the patio, it was leaning against the railings, now inside, I have to lean it against the wall or else it will flop over to either side! I’m so afraid if it falls it will break and I will lose my Mama Cleo! Any suggestions to help?

    PS how do I post a picture?

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