Will my giant Aloe plant live if we cut off half its root and re-pot it?
August 19, 2016 2:18 PM   Subscribe

I've had an aloe in a large pot for the last 10+ years and it has grown to be HUGE. We want to re-pot it, and upon taking it out of its container noticed that its root is about 2 feet long. Will the plant live if we lob off half the root and re-pot it? If we were able to do that, we'd be able to keep it in the pot it is in now which takes up less space. Somewhat urgent question as there is aloe and dirt all over the front yard!
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: To clarify, it's more like a giant stem that was formed dried aloe leaves, and it was buried in the original pot, it's not just the root. So by cutting off half of the stem, we would be cutting off the whole root at the bottom. Sounds like it could kill the aloe, but who knows, some plants are very resilient!
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. at 2:25 PM on August 19, 2016

To answer the title question simply: Yes.

... provided you are reasonably careful, and treat it reasonably carefully for a few weeks after the surgery. Assuming it is in good health now, wait a while before watering. You would probably also do well to remove some portion of the leaves when paring down the root.

Edit: sorry didn't see follow up comment. If there are fine roots, on the remaining portion, you will be fine. If there are not, you still might be fine, but then this more in the realm of taking a cutting than repotting. A photo may help, but honestly aloes are extremely popular in part because they are so resilient. You can also of course use their juice as a skin product and also eat it, but I don't know how common that is :)
posted by SaltySalticid at 2:39 PM on August 19, 2016

Yes. This is how I got my original office aloe from the person who grew it, and how it made me the proud owner of what are now two aloe office plants.
posted by bearwife at 2:51 PM on August 19, 2016

It is pretty hard to kill an aloe. My husband ran one over with a lawn mower. We repotted the completely rootless mid section. Both halves of the plant lived. The rootless section regrew roots.

So: Yes. You can cut off most of the roots and have it survive, with decent care afterwards.
posted by Michele in California at 3:39 PM on August 19, 2016


You don't even have to give it decent care, just some dirt (possibly optional) and water every now and then. I am overrun in multiple pots and beds from the offspring of a single small mangled pup given to me by a friend who found it on the ground and I stuck it in the corner of one of my planter boxes a year ago. I have a pup that broke off it (when I dumped out the planter box that was completely filled with unwatered sunburnt aloe and shoved the entire mass onto a cutout in my patio that has some dirt but never gets sun or water except when I rinse out the dogs' water dish, which it loves and is thriving and green again) that's been sitting in a ramekin with no water in my kitchen windowsill for six weeks, and it's fine.

I'm considering putting some of it just on a ledge in my shower to see how long it will live. It's basically the cockroach of plants.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:49 PM on August 19, 2016

I had an abundance of aloe vera several years ago. The rather large "mother" plant put out endless babies that I repotted. One day, I moved the mother, and she fell out of the pot. She had no roots whatsoever, and was just resting there on top of the soil. I suspect that the root mass under her was putting up the baby plants. But she didn't seem to care. Stuck her back on top of the soil and she continued to grow and thrive.. Eventually I gave it away.
posted by yesster at 4:21 PM on August 19, 2016

I have an aloe that fell out of its pot about 8 months ago. It's been sitting bare on its ass on my balcony through this whole Austin summer. At points it's turned entirely brown. We just got a bunch of rain and it turned back green again and looks fine.

I'd be MORE surprised if you killed your aloe by doing this than if it lived. Go for it.
posted by fiercecupcake at 5:14 PM on August 20, 2016

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