How to separate aloe pups

Now is the time of year when Aloe plants start to send out little shoots next to the base of the plant. While it looks like the plant is just growing larger, these are actually baby plants called pups. Today I want to talk about splitting the aloe pups from the parent plant so that you have multiple aloe plants.

Aloe plant in need of dividing

Everybody loves aloe. It's a great houseplant and it's gel is wonderful for burns, so it's one of those must grow medicinal houseplants! Once the pups are split from the parent plant and start establishing their own roots, they make great gifts...or just have a table full of aloe plants like I do! lol 

It takes about 3 years till a plant is big enough to harvest the aloe vera gel from it. Until then though, it does make a great houseplant and helps to purify the air we breathe.

These pictures are of my aloe plant that I bought at Aldi. It's name is Charles. I don't know why but every plant I buy from Aldi gets a male name. The aloe plant is capable of reproducing all on their own and they do this by sending out shoots right next to the stem.

All we're going to need to do is: 

  • Separate the baby plants from the mother plant
  • Let them dry a little
  • Repot them. 

This is what it looks like when an aloe plant first starts to send out shoots.

Aloe plant with plant shoots starting

Charles is a little sunburned looking after it spent a day outside under the gazebo. It was a bit brighter than I had expected. As the plant started to recover from it's sunburn, it started sending out shoots.

After a while it's going to look like the next picture and that's when you want to separate the pups. You're going to need cactus potting soil, a sharp knife, some paper for your work station and several small pots for the baby plants.

Aloe plant removed from pot.

How to separate baby aloe plants

Start by removing the whole plant from the pot. Set it on its side on your work surface (to support the parent plant so it doesn't break) and clear away as much dirt from the roots as possible.

The babies will be attached to the parent plant but many of them will have their own roots. You're going to grasp the baby plant close to the bottom and tug gently to see if it'll pull away from the parent plant. You'll find some will pop right off.

For plants that are firmly attached you're going to untangle their roots from parent plants roots and slice the plant off the main stem, carefully removing it from the parent plant.

You'll also have some pups that don't appear to have their own roots You can cut them off in the same manner but it's going to be a little trickier to get them to grow.

Baby aloe plants, how to cut off mother plant

After you're done cutting you're going to lay all the plants out on newspaper for a few days. The cut areas need time to callus over or the plants will just rot.

Planting aloe pups

I wait at least 2 days before repotting the plants. Once ready, use fresh cactus soil and put the aloe pups in small pots with adequate drainage holes. Put them deep enough in the soil so that they don't fall over. 

They'll be a little unsteady at first as they're not used to supporting themselves with their roots.

I refresh the soil my aloe plant is growing in yearly, so use fresh soil as you repot the parent plant. Aloe doesn't really need much fertilizing, but I find that it grows best if I change the soil yearly.

Wait another week after potting and water lightly this first time. After this you'll be able to water these exactly like you did before they were separated.

Aloe likes to be watered thoroughly when dry but allowed to dry out completely in between watering. Keep in mind this is a desert plant, so frequent shallow watering will cause it to rot.

These are the 3 that had roots, potted a few days later.

Baby aloe plants in small pots

Aloe pups without roots

Some people say that without roots the aloe pup is a lost cause. I have not found this to be true! I have to tell you that some of these won't make it. Others though, will establish root systems and do just fine.

Of the 6 without roots I got from this plant, 4 developed root systems and are doing great. I only lost 2, but you will lose all of the ones that you don't try! Here's how you help them to develop a root system. 

Don't pot the pups without roots just yet! These need a few extra days before potting. This helps them to start generating roots. After about a week total, dust the cut ends with cinnamon to encourage rooting and pot them as described above. Two days later, water them very lightly.

I water this set very lightly every two to three weeks. Water exactly at the base of the plant where the roots will develop, not next to the pot edges. You only want enough water to wet the stem, then dry up within a day.

About once a month very gently tug on the plant. If you feel it sitting loosely in the soil then it has not established roots yet. If you feel some resistance, then it is establishing roots and you can now switch to a regular watering schedule.

After about 2 months it will become evident which ones have developed roots and which are shriveling up and dying. 

If you don't want to mess with these smaller pups, you could leave them on the parent plant and remove them when they are larger. I don't like to unpot my plant that often, but do what works for you!

Separating aloe plants is best done during the growing season. If you wait till winter your plants will have a harder time recovering from the separation.

Want more posts on indoor gardening? Click here for my other posts on houseplants and their care.


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