I live in Cabo, Mexico, six months of the year. I inherited an aloe vera plant that’s too large for its pot. It’s got so many babies growing from it that it’s split the pot. How can I separate the larger one from the rest so I can re-pot it? It’s on my upper deck of the condo.
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Polly in Mexico: Aloes are native to Africa and belong to the Asphodelacaea family. This family contains hundreds of species but they all thrive in the same growing conditions. The most common is the aloe vera that you are growing. When they are happy, they produce pups like yours has done. These pups have their own root systems, so they can be separated from the mother plant and repotted into their own container(s). Aloe, like any succulent, likes to be a bit root-bound in its container. Since your container is cracked, you will want to purchase a new one the same width and then go ahead and purchase another large container or several small ones, depending on how you want to repot the smaller plants. You can put all the babies together or in separate containers. It is best to use clay containers as opposed to plastic ones because they are porous and allow for good drainage. Make sure the containers have adequate drainage holes and never allow the soil to be sopping wet. Less is better when it comes to watering these succulents. Use a good soil mixture specifically made for cacti and succulents. When you have all your supplies and you are ready to repot, gently remove the cactus from its current home, being careful not to damage the roots. A large fork will help to loosen the roots. It may be easier to remove the entire plant, lay it on newspaper, and then begin to remove the pups so you are eventually left with several small plants and one large one. After they have been separated, you can pot them up in their new homes. You may need to adjust the soil level so that the top of the soil attached to the root system is a few inches lower from the top of the new container. They should be planted at the same soil level as they were before. Then back fill with the succulent mix and water well. Remember that aloe likes very bright light and will not tolerate wet soil. It is best to keep them on the dry side. As for fertilizing, these plants are not considered heavy feeders but if you have not fed it in a few months, go ahead and give them a half-strength dose of liquid fertilizer labeled for cacti and succulents.