Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

How to Divide Aloe Vera and Other Succulents

By:


This aloe vera is definitely ready for dividing!

If you’ve got happy aloe vera, agave, hens-and-chicks, or other clump-forming succulent plants, you’ll soon find that the plants are outgrowing their space and need to be divided. Many succulents are quite easy to divide or propagate simply by removing and repotting the offsets.

Spring and early summer are the best times to divide desert and tropical succulents, since it’s the beginning of their main growing season. Here’s how to divide and propagate aloe vera and other succulent plants.


Aloe vera plant after removal from pot.

Examine Plant

This aloe vera might not look big, but it took three strong adults to move it. The pot was crammed full, so the first order of business was to get a closer look at this monster.

Gently lay the plant on its side and remove the pot. If the plant is growing in your yard, clear away enough soil to get a closer look at the crown and topmost roots – you may be able to divide it without digging it all up.

What to Look for


    Offsets from parent plant.

  • Offsets: Offsets are new plants coming up around the parent. They can be teased or cut away from the parent and are the easiest to propagate. You can usually dig up offsets without disturbing the parent plant.
  • Natural Divisions: With very large plants, you may find that offsets have sprouted and grown until you have several adult plants packed together. If this is the case, you’ll see several large stems or plant crowns, with roots radiating out from each one. To divide this type of plant, you’ll need to dig it up completely.


And this isn’t even all of it!

Divide and Conquer

This plant had plenty of large natural divisions, along with enough offsets to start an aloe orphanage! I started by pulling the aloe apart in natural clumps (being careful not to break any stems), and dividing it into thirds: one-third to give away, one-third to put back in the original pot, and one-third to plant in new pots.


Each division needs to have its own roots.

There are a few things to keep in mind when dividing succulents:

  • Keep the Roots: Make sure each division has an ample supply of its own roots. It’s very easy to break a stem away from the root ball, so be careful!
  • Minimize Damage: When succulent stems or roots are cut or wounded, they become very susceptible to rot and disease. Take the time to tease the plant apart, to minimize ripping and cutting.
  • Use a Sharp Knife: A sterile, sharp knife is your best tool for cutting away plant divisions. Make one clean cut rather than hacking away at it.

How to Plant Divisions

Once the plant has been divided, it’s time to repot:

  • Potting Soil: The best potting soil for succulents is loose-textured, easily aerated, and fast-draining. Avoid potting mixes that are peat-based, since peat tends to stay moist and soggy. Buy a succulent-specific potting mix, or add gravel, perlite, pumice, or coarse sand to standard potting mix.

  • It’s much less crowded now!

  • Choosing a Pot: Make sure the pot has drainage holes in the bottom. Deep pots work better for large heavy plants, since the soil surface can be farther down in the pot, and the high sides will help prop up heavy stems.
  • Allow Time to Heal: Leaving the roots left out in the air for a couple of days before replanting will allow the cuts to seal and callous over, which helps protect them from disease. As an alternative, hold off on watering the pots for a day or two to give the cuts time to callous over. If you have leftover plant divisions to give away, they should be fine for a few days in a bag or box.
  • Planting Divisions: With large divisions, it’s a simple matter of pouring a little soil in the bottom of the pot, carefully sitting the clump in place with the top of the root ball at least a couple of inches below the rim of the pot, refilling the pot with soil, and tamping the soil down with your hands.


Gently wiggle or cut the offsets free from the main plant.

How to Divide and Plant Offsets

Dividing and planting offsets is much lighter work than dividing an entire plant. If you can clearly see some offsets, then you may not even have to dig up the plant – just brush away enough dirt to see where the offset is attached.

Offsets, or “pups,” start as a shoot off a parent stem, then form their own roots and start looking after themselves. To remove a pup, just use your hands to wiggle it free. Sometimes it helps to make one slice with a sharp knife, right where the offset attaches to the parent, but make sure to include the roots with your pup!

To plant offsets, follow the guidelines above for planting divisions. You can put one offset per pot, or several in one pot. I have better results when I bury the little stems all the way up to the first pair of leaves. If I bury only the tiny root ball, the plant tends to fall over.


These newly planted offsets now have room to grow!

How to Care for Replanted Succulents

  • Water: After a day or two, give your newly potted plants a drink of water. Remember that overwatering is the number one cause of death for succulents! Water no more than once a week (I barely water mine once a month), and make sure that water never sits in the drainage tray.
  • Light: Put your new plants in a bright, protected spot – such as a lightly shaded bed or porch – for the first few weeks to give them a chance to become settled.

Further Information



Please Leave a Comment

10 Comments on “How to Divide Aloe Vera and Other Succulents”

You can follow comments to this article by subscribing to the RSS news feed with your favorite feed reader.

  1. carla aubineau Says:
    April 30th, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    This article was entirely what I was looking for!! It was thorough including the pictures and the writing!! Thank you so much for assisting me. I now feel extremely confident in seperating and transplanting the beautiful succulents in my back yard. Honestly this article didn’t miss a beat!!! It is also the only time I have been so pleased that I am compeled to take time to write in gratitude for sharing your knowledge.

  2. Virginia Says:
    May 8th, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    My house is never without the Made from Earth Aloe Vera Skin Treatment and I’ve tried many kinds. Most of what has been available has been in gel form – which is full of chemicals! To make it gel-like, carcinogenic preservatives are used, as well as artificial colors, scents, etc. All I want is 100% aloe vera.

    Since finding the Made from Earth Aloe Vera (including the Aloe & Jojoba for the body), I keep one bottle on the frig door at all times for a more immediate cooling, soothing effect. One bottle is in the bathroom medicine cabinet and one in the bedroom. Its not a gel – its a real aloe vera cream that is potent.

  3. Alyssa Says:
    August 4th, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    I need to echo Carla – this article was exactly what I was looking for and exactly what I needed! I am a novice with a large aloe to separate and these instructions are idiot-proof. Thanks so much!

  4. R M Says:
    October 3rd, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    Thanks for the article. I have been taking root divisions from a huge clump of Aloe Veras in my yard to put in pots for my desk at a new job. I wanted to put some pretty oxygen-producing plants on my desk, something that would survive indoor lighting and frequent neglect. I took the Aloes out of my backyard because they were free, and I can’t wait to see my baby potted aloes grow up as I continue to work at my new job! Thanks for giving me the information I needed to start them!

  5. Andreas Says:
    January 18th, 2012 at 6:58 am

    Hi, Julie.

    very nice article and beautiful photos.

    I live in Greece and I love Aloes. They are really hard and produce a very nice flower in the summer. South Greece is a little bit too hot for planting them in the open without providing any shadow. Even though they get sometimes brown because of the sun, they survive and produce flowers. When they are in pots, it takes them much more time to produce flowers.

  6. Bex Says:
    August 18th, 2012 at 8:29 am

    Hi
    Thanks for the article, I am a total beginner and not at all competant or confident, this article is very helpful as i have a young aloe with pups that needs dividing
    thanks again
    best wishes

  7. Erin Says:
    October 22nd, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    Help…help… my Granny had a big huge aloe plant..until my sister-in-law. She got mad at my brother and threw it out my granny died in 1983. He tried to fix it but he has managed to kill all but one stalk. What do I do? Please I have to save it.

  8. Nancy Says:
    August 1st, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    Thanks, Julie, for the simple language on how to propagate and/or separate the mother aloe vera plant. My niece was good enough to give me your email address. The internet is really great for transmitting information on all subjects. It beats going to the libary and searching through tons of books on a given subject.

  9. Nancy Says:
    August 1st, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    Julie, earlier today I sent you my comments about your article on the propagation of aloe vera plants. I failed to say that you can use only my first name and also not mention the email address. Thank you for giving this your attention.

  10. casey medrano Says:
    October 17th, 2013 at 9:23 am

    THANK YOU! For this information. My mother inlaw found a huge aloe vera in the trash. She rescued it. Its so big we need to separae it. We didn’t know how to do it without killing it. We’re giving some of it away as gifts this year.

We want to hear from you! In addition to posting comments on articles and videos, you can also send your comments and questions to us on our contact page or at (800) 946-4420. While we can't answer them all, we may use your question on our Today's Homeowner radio or TV show, or online at todayshomeowner.com.

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.