Like all flowering plants, aloes (Aloe spp.) reproduce sexually through seeds that develop from pollinated flowers. Aloes grown as houseplants or in the garden don't always flower reliably, and their seeds are slow to germinate, so growing them from seed can be difficult. Fortunately, many aloe species reproduce asexually, which means you can grow them from cuttings or offsets.
All of the 400 members of the Aloe genus all have thick, fleshy leaves that grow in rosettes, and in many species, the leaves are spiny. One of the most familiar aloe species is aloe vera (Aloe vera), which grows outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 12 but is more well known as a houseplant.
Flowering and Seeds
Like all flowering plants, aloes reproduce sexually by producing flowers from which seeds develop. Mature aloes growing outdoors will usually flower each summer. Indoor-grown aloes will only bloom if they're given ideal growing conditions and plenty of light.
Aloe flowers are tube-shaped and grow in clusters on upright flower stalks. The seeds develop in capsules at the base of each flower, and they are most likely to germinate if they're allowed to develop and dry in the capsules after the flowers have wilted and fallen off the stalk. Given the unpredictability of flowering in container-grown aloe and the relatively demanding germination requirements of seeds, growing aloes from seeds is challenging.
You're likely to be more successful propagating aloe with offsets, small plants that grow from the base of the parent plant. Left undisturbed, offsets will form around the parent plant and gradually produce an expanding cluster of rosettes as they grow. You can separate offsets easily from the parent plant, and they will grow into mature independent plants when they're repotted.
To separate offsets from the parent plant, gently remove the parent plant from its pot and gently pull the offsets away from the parent. Allow separated offsets to dry and heal for a few days before repotting them in a mixture of potting soil and perlite. The parent plant can be repotted immediately. Always use a container that has drainage holes for any aloe.
About the Author
Evan Gillespie grew up working in his family's hardware and home-improvement business and is an experienced gardener. He has been writing on home, garden and design topics since 1996. His work has appeared in the South Bend Tribune, the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, Arts Everywhere magazine and many other publications.