Why, When, and How to Prune Aloe Plants [ Easy 3-Step Guide ]
Aloe plants have a ton of benefits and their leaves can be used in many ways. Even if you don’t plan on using aloe leaves, pruning them will help the plant grow bigger faster.
Here’s everything you need to know on why, when, and how to prune aloe plants.
40+ Interesting Types of Aloe Plants with Pictures
Should You Trim Aloe Plants?
Aloe plants have a better than average growth rate than most succulents. Most people grow aloe vera to harvest the gel in their leaves. If you want to grow tall, juicy leaves, pruning your aloe plant from time to time will help you achieve faster growth.
Even if your aloe plants are purely decorative, pruning them will help keep them healthy. Cutting away the mature and dying leaves will make way for healthy, fresh growth.
When there are a lot of leaves, the aloe plant uses up a lot of energy in maintaining them. Especially the old leaves, as they take up more energy while trying to survive. Pruning them helps direct energy towards growing young leaves.
You should be careful while pruning aloe plants because every leaf is chock full of nutrients that the plant needs to survive. Pruning it too much or too often will be harmful to your aloe plant.
When to Prune Aloe Plants?
The beginning of spring is the best time to prune aloe plants. Pruning your aloe plant once or twice a year is sufficient unless you’re trying to harvest the gel from aloe vera leaves.
You should prune your aloe plant whenever you see any dry or damaged leaves. If pests or diseases have damaged leaves, it is best to prune them immediately to project the rest of the plant.
If the leaves turn yellow or brown and develop blemishes, you should prune them away. It is a result of either overwatering or prolonged exposure to sunlight. There is no way to revive these leaves, so it is best to prune them before they start rotting.
Removing the damaged leaves will help revive the aloe plant while you adjust its environment to help it thrive again.
How to Prune Aloe Plants
Aloe plants are fast-growing succulents, but that doesn’t mean that they grow fast. Their growth rate is fats only when compared to other succulents. If you compare them to herbs or other potted plants, they grow quite slowly.
You can’t play fast and loose with the pruning shears because the leaves of the aloe plants store the water and nutrients required by the plants.
Each leaf you snip off means loss of nutrition for the plant, so you need to be careful to prune only when the plant needs it.
Follow the steps below to prune your aloe plant the right way:
Step1: Identify the Leaves
If you haven’t pruned your aloe plant in a while, it is possible that your aloe plant is overgrown and has a lot of overlapping growth. It can be difficult to determine where to start.
The leaves on the outside of the aloe plant are the oldest. However, there can be dead or dying leaves on the inside too, so you’ll need to work your way in.
There are 3 kinds of leaves you should be looking for—dead or dying leaves, dry or shriveling leaves and yellowing or blemished leaves.
These leaves are using up the energy that should go towards fresh and healthy growth, so they need to be pruned away.
Step 2: Gather Your Tools
You can use scissors or pruning shears to prune your aloe plant. Using a knife or blade is not wise as the leaves will be quite thick and you might hurt yourself in the process.
Stay away from serrated scissors. You need a sharp blade that makes a clean cut. It is also a good idea to wear a clean pair of gloves since the leaves might be leaking gel.
Once you have the right tools, you need to sterilize the equipment. One of the biggest reasons for the spread of diseases in plants is using unsterilized equipment for pruning and transplanting.
If you plan on harvesting the gel from the aloe vera leaves, it is even more important that all your equipment is clean.
Step 3: Prune Away
Now carefully cut away all the leaves you identified. You have also picked out the leaves that are not viable anymore, so you don’t need to worry about where you make the cut.
Just cut as close to the base as possible. The part that is left over will wither away on its own. If you want to harvest the aloe from the leaves later, let the yellowish liquid drip out of the leaves first before you cut them open to access the aloe gel.
Does cutting aloe hurt the plant?
It depends on the number and quality of the leaves you cut. Cutting away dying, withering or yellowing leaves will help with robust and faster growth of the aloe plant.
However, the leaves are where the plant stores water and nutrients. Cutting or pruning too many healthy leaves will damage the plant.
Do aloe plants grow back after you cut them?
Ideally, you should cut aloe leaves as close to the base as possible. They will not regenerate, rather they will wilt away.
Aloe leaves cut at the middle or close to the tip will heal and form calluses within 3-4 days. These leaves also do not grow back. However, the plant will grow new leaves as long as you continue to care for it.