How to prune an aloe plant

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How to prune an aloe plant
Aloe vera. (Anna Ivanova/iStock/Getty Images)

Aloe plants come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some are known as tree hybrids and can grow to well over a metre high, while other varieties such as aloe vera can be grown in pots on windowsills. Prune aloe vera to obtain the thick medicinal gel out of the leaves. Aloe is very hardy and taking leaves off now and then will not harm the plant. Large aloes in pots have to be pruned to prevent them from falling over. Always remove dead or diseased leaves so the plant can reserve its energy for healthy new growth.

Things you need

  • Knife
  • Pruning shears

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    Pruning smaller plants

  1. 1

    Take off an outer leaf. Healthy green - or other natural colour of the aloe - leaves can be taken off the outside of the plant to keep it from growing too large. Aloe vera leaves can be pruned for the aloe gel inside. Take care not to nick or cut adjoining leaves as this will slow their growth. Pull an outside leaf down and away from the other leaves and slice or snip the leaf as close to the base as possible.

    Aloe gel is used on a wide variety of skin ailments including minor burns, insect bites, sunburn, sores, rashes, conjunctivitis and others.

  2. 2

    Prune dead and dying leaves. Leaves on the outside that are turning yellow can indicate that the aloe plant has outgrown its pot. Remove these leaves to relieve crowding.

    Dead leaves on the inside can also be an indication of overcrowding, disease, or insect infestation. Remove these as carefully as possible and consider treating the plant or repotting it in a larger pot.

  3. 3

    Remove offshoots. Offshoots spread out from the base of the parent plant and look like miniature aloe plants. Offshoots are one way aloe plants naturally propagate. Each offshoot will mature into an adult plant so they should be removed to prevent overcrowding the parent plant. Offshoots can be replanted in another pot.

    Pruning larger plants

  1. 1

    Remove dead or dying leaves. Cut the leaves as close to the base as possible. Larger leaves may require a bow saw.

  2. 2

    Remove the offshoots. To keep your outdoor aloe from taking over the rest of the garden, you have to remove the offshoots. Cut these free from the main plant and remove them completely, including the roots.

  3. 3

    Remove the rosette. Large outdoor varieties of aloe like the American aloe, also known as the century plant, produce giant flower stalks known as rosettes. These can be up to nine metres (30 feet) high and the rosette will die soon after flowering. The rosette will fall over and can be a hazard unless it is removed carefully.

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