I recently had a chance to "help" a friend whose kitchen-windowsill Aloe Vera plant had vastly outgrown its tiny pot and sent up three daughter plants to boot. I took some pots to their house, raked up some wonderful soil from under their ten-year accumulation of leaves by the side of their house, and repotted the the mother plant while setting the three daughter plants in their own pots. In the end my friend only wanted one of the daughter plants because the mother was "too big for my kitchen now". So I came away with one ancient plant, two young plants ... and at least a dozen huge leaves that we trimmed from the mother plant so that it would fit sensibly in the larger-but-not-ridiculously-large pot we put it in.
In my climate Aloe Vera must necessarily be a house plant, which I want for its first-aid pain-relief properties on minor burns. I don't have much room for houseplants, and one small Aloe Vera will do. But my sister wants the big one, so it has a home. And I am wondering whether it's possible to root all these extra leaves now that I've let them dry and become calloused on the cut ends. I'm sure I could find a good home for extra plants if I had them.
I've consulted the internet. Ten zillion sites say you can't root cut aloe vera leaves at all. Another fifteen zillion sites says you can just bury the calloused leaves about 1/3 of their length in dry, only-faintly-damp soil and they will root. Maybe two zillion sites suggest that rooting hormone will help. And NOBODY that I found was showing any pictures of the process or of successful Aloe Vera plants started that way.
I need first-hand reports. Have you done it? Did you see your friend do it? Do you know a site on the internet that says it can be done in a voice persuasively suggesting that the person talking actually did it, as opposed to reading that it could be done somewhere else on the internet?
I have never rooted leaves, nor have I tried rooting compound on the calloused over ends. I'm kind of skeptical that it would work (because you are cutting the leaf above the growth point).
But why do you have to try and root the leaves when the plant is so good at tossing off daughter plants? Just a little patience is all that you need and soon you will have dozens of little aloes. When I lived in Las Vegas, I had a serious hedge of aloes on the west side of a north-south wall. They got HUGE! And all I did was water them once every couple weeks or so. They were constantly making daughter plants which I could pot up and give away.
Now that I am in a colder and wetter climate, they do need to be brought in and protected from hard freezes, but they are still prolific. I can lift them twice a year, once in the spring before they go outside and once in the fall when they are brought in, and divide off the daughters to pot up. The key to getting it to proliferate lots of daughters is to keep it from getting root bound. I would speculate that if that oversize plant in a small pot wasn't rootbound, you would have had more than three daughters to repot.
John Elliott wrote:I have never rooted leaves, nor have I tried rooting compound on the calloused over ends. I'm kind of skeptical that it would work (because you are cutting the leaf above the growth point).
But why do you have to try and root the leaves when the plant is so good at tossing off daughter plants?
Well, it's not that I have to; I don't even know what I'll do with all the plants I might get. It's just that I've got all these aloe leaves and I had been exposed to the notion they were rootable, so I didn't throw them away, and now they are nicely calloused.
Also the notion that they might be rootable didn't strike me as completely insane. I know that opuntia (prickly pear) cactus will root from the pads if you throw them on the ground, and so I didn't have any reason to misbelieve that an aloe might do the same, at least if encouraged properly. It was only when I started googling for details that I realized I was in one of those quagmires of oft-repeated advice that's never very detailed, and so I began to wonder.
I have rooted leaves, but not dried up ones. I think the trick is to do it while they are still vibrant. Though sticking it in a pot and watering it might work..I have brought back some cacti that I thought were beyond salvagable.
Zach Muller wrote:I have some aloe plants growing in bowls of water. You might try to put some of yours in water and see if any roots pop out.
Now, I would not have thought of that. I have always been told that Aloe Vera rots if it even gets a little bit over-watered, and I've seen enough stems just fall over sideways with black mush at the base that I believed it. I wouldn't have thought they'd survive in water at all. But I have spare leaves, so phaugh! to theory, I'll just try it.
I was thinking more about this and I too have overwatered some of the very same plant and it turned dark and rotty looking. Maybe once it sprouts roots in pure water it is in a different mode than if it is in soil. The way the plant is in the water is it is kind of hanging so barely any of the green leaf touches water, just the plug where the roots come out and the roots themselves. This is such a tough plant, you can ignore it for a long time before it fully dies. Any signs of success Dan?
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