Aloe Vera is a cactus-like succulent that grows in hot, dry climates that has many medicinal uses. There are currently at least 500 different species of Aloe that are cultivated in subtropical regions around the world. Aloe vera specifically refers to the Aloe barbadensis Miller plant, which is the most common species used in Aloe-based products.
Aloe Vera plants will not produce pups for several reasons. Overwatering, improper lighting, improper soil drainage, incorrect pot size, fungal infections, and age of plant are all factors that could be preventing your aloe vera from producing pups.
Since Aloe Vera has so many beneficial uses, it is a great plant to have in your home. Below we will go over plant care, reasons why your Aloe Vera may not be producing pups, and how to propagate these pups when your Aloe Vera produces them.
Aloe Vera Plant Care
Since Aloe Vera is a cactus-like succulent, it grows best in dry conditions. Aloe Vera cannot tolerate standing water, so it needs to be planted in a pot with plenty of drainage. Aloe Vera needs to be watered every 10-15 days when the soil is completely dry.
You should plant your Aloe Vera in cactus potting soil mix, or in regular potting soil that has been amended with additional perlite, sand, or gravel to provide space for the water to escape and the soil to dry.
Aloe Vera generally does not need to be fertilized, but if you decide to fertilize your Aloe Vera, you can use a phosphorus-heavy, water-based fertilizer at half strength once a year in the Spring.
Aloe Vera also needs plenty of bright light to grow, so be sure your Aloe Vera is placed where the entire surface of the plant can receive direct sunlight for most of the day. You should also expose the lower area to light as often as possible.
If your Aloe Vera seems to be getting too much sun, you can remove it from the direct sunlight for part of the day as Aloe Vera can be grown in partial shade, but it should still be exposed to light at a minimum of 6 hours a day.
Why your Aloe Vera May Not Be Producing Pups
Now that we have gone over some basic plant care for your Aloe Vera, let’s investigate some reasons why your Aloe may not be producing pups. Aloe pups are the primary source of new plants. These pups, or offsets, emerge on the base of a mature mother plant and share its root system until they grow large enough to develop their own roots.
Many species of aloe grow offsets, but there are some types that will not. A few of these non-pup types include coral aloe (Aloe striata), tiger tooth aloe (Aloe juvenna), and fez aloe (Aloe peglerae). So, you may want to make sure your plant can produce pups.
Size of Pot
Along with proper drainage & watering, the size of your pot is also an important determinant of how well your Aloe Vera will grow. Aloe Vera needs to be planted in a pot where roots take up 2/3 of the container. Since Aloe Vera roots grow horizontal and shallow, opt for a pot that has a large width, but that is not as deep since the roots will not reach the bottom of the pot. This will leave the soil unused and will allow water to sit. Additionally, if your Aloe Vera is growing in a pot far too large for its root system, your plant may think there is no competition or pressing need to worry about its survival, and in turn not produce pups.
Fungal problems can happen when humidity arises and will cause your Aloe Vera to put all its energy into fighting these external factors instead of producing pups. Overwatering and poor drainage are the most common reasons that lead to these issues. So, again, be sure your Aloe Vera is receiving proper drainage. Also, be sure your plant is receiving enough light & airflow.
If you’re still having these issues after making sure your Aloe Vera is receiving optimum care, then you may need to use fungicides to control the fungal attack and consider repotting your Aloe Vera. Also, check out our article on controlling fungus with essential oils.
Age of Your Aloe Vera
The most common reason for an Aloe Vera not to pup is immaturity. Aloe Vera will start producing pups after 6-8 months of the initial growth period, but will sometimes take longer depending on growing conditions, soil mixture, sunlight, watering, etc. In the meantime, you can continue providing the same care to the plant and just wait a little longer!
If by chance you have a mature Aloe Vera that has previously produced pups, don’t expect it to continue producing the same way it did in its early years. As your plant continues to grow older, it might need more time to produce, or it may just be too old to produce pups.
Aloe Vera will also hibernate in the winter, so you can expect to see little to no growth at this time.
Your Plant Is Under a Lot of Stress, or Needs It
If your Aloe Vera is getting all the things it needs, you will have a greater chance of seeing new pups. If you are doing everything right in caring for your mature Aloe Vera and it is in good condition, you may need to experiment by placing your plant under stress.
Stress is one of the biggest factors in producing new pups for the Aloe plant. Some stress is beneficial for Aloe Vera, as it will cause your plant to go into survival mode and produce pups.
The best way to stress your Aloe Vera is by providing it with less water. You can also try disturbing the roots or placing it in a shaded area for a few days. This will put your Aloe Vera into survival mode and may stimulate pup growth.
Nevertheless, if there is too much stress, the plant will focus on saving itself rather than producing new pups around it.
Propagating Your Aloe Pups
Once your Aloe Vera has produced pups, you can remove them by a few different methods. You can use a knife and cut them from the mother plant, you can also twist them free with your hands, or you can dig up the entire aloe plant, remove the pups, and repot.
You can remove both pups that have developed roots and those that have not. If the pup has already developed roots, be sure to keep these attached.
Tip: You can water the plant’s soil a day before to help loosen these roots for easy extraction.
Replant your pups in a pot with fresh, hydrated potting soil. Be sure to plant the rooted pups at the same level you retrieved them, and unrooted pups about one-half inch deep. Unrooted pups will need to be supported in an upright position with something until they take root. Do not water the pups for two weeks.
Aloe Vera is a very beneficial succulent that is a great addition to any plant collection. Now after going through some basic plant care and reasons you may not be seeing your plant-producing pups; you have a better understanding on how to take care of and propagate your Aloe Vera so that you may continue to enjoy it, and its pups, for years to come.