Propagating Aloe vera plants from pups is the easiest way to create new plants. Use these step-by-step instructions to transplant and grow pups from an existing plant.
There are more plant propagation tutorials here for indoor and outdoor plants.
Propagating Aloe Vera
Aloe vera ~ also known as Aloe barbadensis
The fastest and most reliable way to propagate Aloe vera is by transplanting a pup from an existing plant.
Pups are simply new, little plants that grow naturally near the base of the original plant.
You may see pups also referred to as plantlets, suckers, babies, offshoots, offsets, rosettes, or slips. In this instance they all mean the same thing—the new mini plant or plants Aloe veras so readily create.
It’s common to call the original plant the mother, parent, or donor plant and because pups form from non-sexual reproduction they are genetic clones of the original plant.
It’s so efficient to propagate this way because the plant has done almost all the work for you. Just repot the little plantlet and you’re set.
TIP | If you’re shopping for an Aloe vera plant, try to find one with pups. That way you get two plants (or more) for the price of one.
How To Propagate Aloe Vera
- Aloe vera plant with pup
- Snippers, fine, clean
- Cactus potting mix or regular houseplant potting mix
- Flower pots with drainage holes and saucers
- Garden gloves (optional) – If plant leaves have sharp spikes
- Stones, 2-inch (optional) – To prop up plants in pot until roots are well-established
Prepare Your Pots
Before separating the pup from the original plant, get your flower pots ready with water-moistened potting mix.
You’ll want a small pot for the pup and a medium or large one for the original plant, depending on the size.
I like to moisten the potting mix with water first in a separate container before adding it to the flower pots. Potting mix shrinks down quite a bit when moistened so allow extra for this.
Right Moisture Level
If you can squeeze the moistened potting mix with your hand and form a ball—but it doesn’t drip excess water—that’s just right.
Fill the flower pots leaving just under an inch free at the top. This makes it easier to water the plants ongoing without overflowing.
With your two pots ready, it’s time to prepare the plants.
Remove Plant and Pup From Original Pot
Remove the plant from its pot.
Plastic pots | If the roots are sticking to the inside of the pot, it can help to gently roll and press on the sides to help loosen everything.
Clay pots | If roots have grown into the pot sides, you may need to use a long knife around the inside of the pot to dislodge them. In extreme cases it is sometimes necessary to break the pot to get the plant out.
Want more propagation tips? Use this easy method to grow avocado from seed.
Untangle The Roots & Separate the Plants
With the plant you see above, the root ball is rootbound. To get started, carefully unravel as much of the roots as possible, gradually separating those belonging to the original plant from the pup’s.
From there, with one hand around the pup and its root ball and the other around the main plant and its root ball, gently tease them apart. You may need garden gloves if the leaves are spikey. A few roots will tear but most should stay intact.
Clean Up The Roots
Before planting, check if any roots need tidying up.
Use snippers to remove any dead (shriveled) roots.
For the plant you see here, the old roots were quite long (15-inches) so I trimmed them back by about 1/3.
Transplant The Pup
In the small flower pot, form a hole in the potting mix large enough to accommodate the pup roots.
Plant it at a depth where the roots will be buried but the lowest leaves sit just above soil level. If you bury the leaves, they rot.
Hold the pup in place while covering the roots with potting mix. This is the final growing position so be sure it’s centered in the pot and not leaning to one side.
Cover the roots with moist potting mix and gently press everything into place.
If the pup wants to tip over, you can use a stone or two to help support it until the roots are better established.
Repot The Original Plant
You can return the main plant to its original pot if suitable or repot into a size larger as I did here.
Again, form a hole in the potting mix to accommodate the root ball and carefully arrange the plant.
Just like the pup, you want it centred and vertical in the pot with the roots buried and the leaves above soil level.
Care After Repotting
Both the pup and the original plant will need time to adjust after repotting.
Some wilting or flopping of leaves is to be expected but they should perk up as the plants recover.
Provide indirect but fairly bright light.
Allow potting mix to become dry between waterings.
Depending on the conditions, it may take 6 to 12 weeks for the roots to re-establish. You’ll know things are doing well when new leaf growth appears.
As the plants strengthen, gradually transition to brighter light, and follow the general care tips below.
There are over 600 species within the genus Aloe.
The tips here are specific to the Aloe vera species—a popular, low-maintenance houseplant.
The botanical name is Aloe vera (or Aloe vera (L.) Burm.f. in full). Aloe barbadensis is a synonym.
Common names include medicinal aloe, medicine plant, and burn plant.
Aloe vera is a stemless—or nearly stemless—succulent (not cactus) with leaves and roots. Like other succulents, the fleshy leaves store water in their thick leaves—in this case as a gooey gel.
Aloe vera is a hardy perennial in zones 9 to 11. In cold climates, we grow it as an indoor houseplant with (optional) outdoor growing in the summer months.
As houseplants, flowering is rare. With intense sunlight outdoors, Aloe vera may produce long stems with yellow, tubular flowers.
- Light: Full sunlight —but make any transitions gradual over days or weeks.
- Soil: Use (well-draining) cactus potting mix.
- Water: allow to dry between waterings.
- Planting depth: do no allow leaves to touch soil.
- Indoor temperature: 70°F (21°C).
- Pests: aphids, mealy bugs, spider mites, scale insects.
- Propagation: transplant pups, root stem cuttings, or sow seeds.
For an easy way to keep track of individual houseplant needs, see my houseplant care tagging system here.
Frequently Asked Questions
When is an Aloe vera pup ready for transplanting?
I like to wait until the offset (pup) has several sets of leaves and I am confident it has established its own root system. At this point the leaves will be at least 2 to 3 inches long.
Some gardeners will remove the pup sooner and encourage it to form roots on its own.
Both approaches can succeed.
When is the best time of year to propagate Aloe vera?
In general, it’s best to transplant pups or propagate stem cuttings when the donor plant is actively growing but not flowering. This is usually in spring or summer when daylight hours are the longest.
Should I air dry the pup to let it callus over before planting?
The idea behind this is likely that any open wounds are susceptible to disease and should be healed over before planting. If your plantlet (pup) has roots and does not have open wounds, it can be planted right away.
Should I use rooting hormone?
If the pup has roots, there is no need for rooting hormone.
If the pup does not have roots, rooting hormone might help.
Can I propagate Aloe vera from leaf cuttings?
This is often misunderstood with Aloe vera. You cannot propagate leaf cuttings on their own. They do not have what’s needed to form roots and will just rot instead. You can, however, propagate cuttings if they include stem tissue. It’s the stem tissue that can form new roots.
Can I propagate Aloe vera cuttings in water?
No, Aloe vera rots with prolonged water exposure. You can propagate stem cuttings in moist potting mix to avoid rotting.
Can I grow Aloe vera plants from seed?
Yes, you can grow Aloe vera from seed. It is rare for Aloe vera houseplants to flower or to produce seed since pollination from another plant is required but you can purchase Aloe vera seeds and try germinating them at home.
The lower leaves on my Aloe vera are dying—is this normal?
Yes, it’s not unusual for the lowest leaves on an Aloe vera to die off as the plant grows. Just be sure your plant is getting adequate, bright light or this may become extreme as they can become leggy when they are continually straining to find better light.
How big do Aloe vera grow?
As houseplants in containers, Aloe vera leaves can reach 1 to 2-feet long. Some may get as long as three feet.
Do Aloe vera plants clean the air?
No, this is a myth. Contrary to popular folklore, it would actually take an incredible number of houseplants to have any affect on indoor air quality.
Are aloes desert plants?
No, aloes trace back to tropical and sub-tropical regions in and around southern and eastern Africa. Although not certain, Aloe vera is thought to have originated in the Arabian Peninsula. Warm and arid regions, but not deserts.
Today, aloes have naturalized in other regions including North and South America, Australia, the Mediterranean, and India.
What are some uses for Aloe vera?
Historically, both the clear gel and yellow latex within Aloe vera have been used medicinally, both internally and externally, as well as in various cosmetic products. Aloe vera gel is best known for relief from minor burns. However, many health and medicinal claims about the benefits of Aloe vera are unsubstantiated and dubious at best.
More Houseplant Tips
- How to Bring Houseplants Indoors For The Winter
- How to Keep Houseplants Watered While on Vacation
- Easy Houseplant Tagging System to Simply Care
- How to Grow Christmas Cactus From Cuttings
- 4 Easy Ways to Overwinter Geraniums
- How to Make African Violets Bloom & Rebloom
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛
How To Propagate Aloe Vera From Pups
- 1 Snippers
Supplies & Materials
- Fill flower pots with water moistened potting mix leaving just under an inch free at top of pots.1 bag Potting Mix for Cacti
- Remove Aloe vera plant and its pup(s) from pot.1 Aloe vera plant with pup(s)
- Untangle roots. Gently pull original plant and pup apart into two separate plants tearing as few roots as possible.
- Trim away any dead roots and cut back excessively long roots by one third.
- Plant pup upright in center of small flower pot. Bury roots and keep lowest leaves just above soil level. If plant needs support, use 2-inch stones on soil surface at base of plant until roots are established.1 4-inch Flower pot with saucer
- Repeat for original plant using a medium or large flower pot.1 8-inch Flower pot with saucer