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3 Ways to Deal with An Overgrown Aloe Vera Plant

If you take care of an Aloe Vera, it can grow like crazy and quickly spread out of its pot or container, needing your help soon. Aloe’s a great thing because the thick, juicy leaves hold much of the healing gel. However, one can have too much of a good thing!

Overgrown Aloe Veras can be brought back to productivity by being divided into new plants, trimming its offshoots, or having its entire top lopped off. When done right, this pruning doesn’t hurt the plant and can even be used to start new plants.

How To Fix Overgrown Aloe Plant

The Aloe Vera plant is safe for pruning, so feel free to trim it back to size whenever necessary. All the adult leaves can be plucked twice a year from plants grown commercially for the health and beauty industry without harming the plants.

Of course, you don’t have to be cruel with an Aloe plant that has grown too big for its pot, but it shows how strong they are and how easy it is to keep them in check.

[1] Pruning And Trimming Overgrown Aloe Vera Plants

The simplest solution is to prune back the overgrowth causing your Aloe to spill over the side of its pot. Then, you can remove it, as you would any other plant. If you do it right, there is no danger to the plant.

You will need the following:

  • Clean Shears
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Clean Cloth
  • Powdered Cinnamon
  • Gardening Gloves (optional)

Step One: Gather Your Tools

First, get everything you need ready. Then, clean and disinfect your knives after each use. It seals the wound so harmful bacteria and fungi cannot get in and destroy the Aloe.

In addition, I recommend having a clean cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol handy as you prune. When aloes are cut, they exude a luscious, transparent gel.

Although it won’t harm your skin, it will gum up your tools. Cleaning your shears regularly with a damp cloth will keep them in good working order, protecting you and your plant from harm.

Finally, if you’re dealing with a genuinely monstrous Aloe, wear gardening gloves (Amazon link). While I haven’t experienced severe injuries from my Aloe Vera plants’ leaves, I have noticed that the larger they get, the more aggressive their leaves become.

Wearing gardening gloves will make the entire process much more comfortable for you.

Step Two: Cut the Dead Leaves First

Begin by removing any dead or dying leaves. Then, soft and squishy spears turning brown or shriveled at the tip can be removed. I’d also advise any leggy offshoots to leave at this point.

Step Three: Plan Aloe’s Size and Shape

Take a moment to consider whether or not you need to continue. Once dead or dying growth is removed, the whole Aloe will seem smaller and much more manageable.

Think about what shape or size you’d like at the end of the process, and examine the areas you’d like to cut. 

Step Four: Remove the Outer Leaves

Now start working from the outer edges of the Aloe inwards, removing excess growth. Cut through stems for preference, producing more minor wounds that heal more effectively.

Step Five: Clean it Up

When you’re satisfied with the look of your Aloe, it’s time to clean it up.

Powdered Cinnamon can be sprinkled over the exposed tissue of your Aloe if desired. In addition,

Cinnamon has antifungal and antibacterial properties that can help prevent infection when applied to new cuts.

Clean your tools and store them once they are dry. You can compost any dead or dying leaves.

However, Aloe Vera stems can propagate even without roots and can be grown in water. It doesn’t take much to multiply one Aloe Vera into several.

[2] Repotting An Overgrown Aloe Vera Plant

If you want to enjoy the vitality of your massive Aloe Vera, consider moving it to a larger pot with a fresh growing medium, which will allow it to continue growing to even greater sizes.

You will need the following:

  • New Pot
  • Potting Soil
  • Small shovel or trowel
  • Garden shears
  • Gardening gloves
  • Clean water

Choose a New Pot for Overgrown Aloe Vera

Select a pot no more than two inches wider than the current one. This will keep stale water from accumulating beyond the root mass’s boundaries.

Terra-cotta or unsealed ceramic is the best material. These materials wick water away from the pot’s most remote corners, protecting the Aloe from over-watering.

Whatever material you choose, make sure the new pot has adequate drainage. The more drainage holes there are in the pot, the better.

Best Soil to Repot an Overgrown Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera plants are succulents native to arid regions of Africa and require dry, sandy soil. Therefore, it must be free draining and not prone to retaining excessive moisture.

I make my own by combining one good-quality potting mix with one part of coarse sand and a good handful of gravel for texture.

This improves drainage and helps to prevent root rot. If you prefer to avoid the hassle, a commercial succulent and cactus mix (Amazon link) will suffice.

Step One: Add 1-2 inches of potting mix at the bottom

Add an inch or two of potting mix to the bottom of your new pot, with a small amount in the center to receive the Aloe.

Step Two: Lossen the Root System

Allow the Aloe Vera to breathe and examine the roots. Overgrown Aloes are likely to be root bound, so gently loosen any too tightly packed roots.

Remove any old potting soil as well. You’ll want as much of the new medium as possible to reach the root system.

Step Three: Place Aloe Vera in New Pot

Fill around the roots of the Aloe in the new pot so that they are well covered and the plant is stable. Tap the pot on the ground to help the soil fill in around the roots.

Step Four: Water the Aloe Thoroughly

When the pot is full, water the Aloe thoroughly and allow it to drain. Water will carry the mix deeper into the root mass, so you may need to top up the soil level.

Return the pot to its original location once all the water drains.

[3] Dividing Overgrown Aloe Vera Plant

Dividing an overgrown Aloe Vera allows you to split a single, healthy plant into two by cutting it in half, root ball and all.

Although it appears drastic, Aloe Vera responds well to division. They will return with care, providing you with two or more lovely new plants.

To do this, you will need the following: 

  • Clean pruning shears or pruning knives.
  • Gardening gloves.
  • Small shovel or trowel.
  • Rubbing alcohol.
  • Clean cloth.
  • Clean water.
  • At least two pots are slightly smaller than the original.
  • Appropriate potting mix for succulents or cacti.
  • A tarpaulin or sheet.

How to Divide an Overgrown Aloe Vera Plant

Step One: Gather the Supplies and 

Prepare ahead of time by gathering your supplies.

Set up a tarpaulin or sheet large enough to hold the Aloe once removed from the pot. I also use a large tarpaulin to keep my work area clean.

Check that your tools are in good working order. Allow them to dry after sterilizing them with alcohol.

This will keep any nasties away from the cuts you make. Wet your cloth with rubbing alcohol if you need to remove the gel during the process.

Make sure the tools are also sharp because blunt tools require more force, which can result in injuries to you and your plant.

Finally, put on your gardening gloves. You’ll need to handle the roughest, spikiest parts of the plant, so if yours is large enough to require division, protect yourself from the sharper elements of the leaves.

Step Two: Trim off the Dead Roots

Remove the Aloe from its pot gently and inspect it from root to tip. The health of the root mass is critical to the success of the plant division, so look for brown or black roots that are soft or slimy.

This is a sign of root rot, which must be treated before dividing the plant.

However, you can proceed if the root mass is in good condition. This is also an excellent time to remove any dead or dying leaves.

Step Three: Remove Aloe Pups

Remove most of the soil by brushing or washing it away, and look for multiple stems emerging from the root mass.

It’s also an excellent time to remove any pups by clipping them and a small number of their roots.

Step Four: Divide the Plant in Half

Carefully cut through the root mass with shears or a pruning knife, ensuring that all emerging stems have an equal share of the roots.

Arrange the plants on the tarpaulin. Allow about 24 hours for the wounds to close and callous over. It may appear harsh, but it will keep soil-borne pathogens from entering the plant through wet, injured tissue.

While you wait, prepare your new pots by layering potting blend on the bottom.

Step Five: Repotting

Finally, repot your new plants as usual.

Things To Do After Pruning and Repotting

It’s tempting to relocate a recently refreshed Aloe by moving it to a brighter location or increasing its watering or fertilization. However, it is unnecessary and may be harmful to your plant.

Before watering a newly repotted or divided Aloe, allow it to dry completely.

That first deep watering after they’ve been planted in new soil is more than enough to keep them going while they heal. Excessive watering around damaged roots increases the risk of rot and disease.

Newly pruned plants also require little support, and it is critical to keep them dry.

For the same reason, you let the roots dry and avoid getting the calloused points where you cut wet for some time. This will protect against rot and allow healing.

They, too, do not require more light. However, a sudden change in light level can burn the leaves or stress the plant to the point where it stops growing.

Just carry on as usual, and your Aloe will be fine.

How to Care for Overgrown Aloe Vera Plant

Giant Aloes don’t need much more care than small ones. They need the same amount of light, don’t need to be watered as often, don’t need much fertilizer, and need to stay warm.

You must keep an eye on their soil. Larger pots hold more water, increasing the risk of root rot. Water only when the medium is dehydrated.

Aloe vera also grows best when the medium is completely saturated each time it is watered.

I’m always reading depressing advice like giving succulents ice cubes or measuring out small doses of water in teaspoons. It’s far from enough to get enough water down to the roots.

Soak an Aloe Vera thoroughly, allowing every grain of medium to become sopping wet. Then, allow the soil to drain completely after it has been absorbed.

Depending on the season, you may only need to water the Aloe once a month or more or more frequently in the winter.

This method is especially beneficial to giant Aloe. It provides them with the ample water required to keep those larger spreads of leaves hydrated while protecting the roots from over-watering.

Can You Cut Off the Top of An Aloe Plant?

Cutting the top off an Aloe Vera is an excellent way to keep it from growing too large. It will encourage the Aloe to grow laterally and produce new shoots out the side of the stem if done correctly. It does not affect the plant.

Even after you cut the top off, the Aloe is still alive and well. I’ve grown many Aloe Vera plants from such trimmings, and it’s a great way to build a collection. It’s an excellent way to ensure you always have one of these helpful healers for an Aloe.

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