Aloes and other succulents use up the resources of their potting soil every year or so. They produce a great deal of dead matter at the base which may be removed at transplant to keep the plant from picking up diseases. They become root-bound and grow much faster after the roots are properly trimmed and replanted in fresh medium.
Use Cactus mix composed of 50% organic compost and 50% fast-draining ingredients such as coarse, sharp sand or fine white pumice. All available at nursery supply stores.
Choose a pot that is slightly larger than the current pot.
Photo 1) Bulbine prior to repotting. Note dead leaves and weedy species in pot.
Photo 2) Depot, free roots to full length, free plant from weeds, remove all dead leaves from around base of plant and compost old potting soil.
Photo 3) Cut back roots to the point where they begin to bifurcate. Don’t worry if they’re a bit long, you want to stimulate, not crew-cut.
Photo 4) Put a small amount of cactus mix in bottom of pot and dangling the plant inside the pot, place newly cleaned and trimmed roots back on top of that.
Photo 5) Put more cactus mix in on top of the roots. This is the part that separates the excellent gardener from the ho-hummer. The crown should be VERY LOW to start. Push the soil down at the sides around the plant and as you firm it in, gently lift the crown of the plant up until it is even with the rim of the pot. This maneuver will straighten the root system and frankly it is the key to the secret of transplanting succulents. Now that the root system is straightened out the plant is going to be unstable and wanky. Stabilize by filling in all around with cactus mix, firming gently, leaving the crown of the plant about 1/2 inch down from the rim.
Photo 6) Put white pumice around the plant and fill all the way up to the rim, even heaping is good. The pumice will keep the crown dry, make it very easy to water the plant without spilling water over the sides of the pot, dissuade weeds, and look really cool.
Aloes at transplant are best not watered, as it can cause them to rot. You can water them in 2 weeks, after their roots again begin to delve.
At www.strictlymedicinalseeds.com, you can find a wide range of Cacti and Succulent seeds and plants including Aloe arborescens, Peruvian Torch Cactus, Dragon Fruit, Cactus grandiflorus and many more.
6 thoughts on “Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Transplant Aloes and Other Succulents”
Hi, Richo! I’m excited about growing aloes, but I’m afraid I’m not very good at it yet…. my “babies” are still tiny, though they’re about a year old – I keep waiting for them to do something, but they seem stuck. I’ve been careful not to over-water them, but I think they may be getting too much light (natural, southern exposure during the summer, 18″ under LED, 12 hours/day for overwintering indoors. They never greened up, remaining fairly bronze – can I send you a pic or two? THANKS
hi Joe, you don’t really have to send a photo unless you really want to. Bronze means either too much moisture or too much light and I think you’ve hit on the issue, too much light. The fix is: depot, remove all dead roots (which I bet there are plenty) and callus for 2 weeks (leave on your desk, no dirt, just let them sit). Then, repot in cactus mix, make sure to use small pots (small aloes in big pots = big mistake) and water once after 2 weeks and then occasionally in winter and more frequently in summer. That will hit the reset button. Meanwhile order some more aloes of different types at strictly medicinal seeds. Not everyone is as googoo on aloes as I am and this has left me with scads of rare aloes that are quite well sized up. richo
Would you use the same steps with Rhodiola?
Yes, they are both succulents and transplant similarly.
Thank you so much !