How To Trim Aloe Vera Plant? (Step-by-Step Guide)


Aloe Vera is a versatile plant found in most gardens. They are loaded with pulps that contain lots of medicinal properties. This gel helps in various cases like cuts, scrapes, or sunburns. To get that gel, you have to trim the Aloes. But, how exactly? Let’s find out.

For trimming the Aloe Vera leaves, you need to select a healthy leaf from the outer part of a mature plant and cut it close to the base. Avoid trimming the newer growth as it can hamper the overall growth of the plant. Also, make sure you use the right tools to clip the aloe vera plant.

Today, we will be exploring the different steps of trimming an Aloe Vera plant for extracting gel and replanting in this guide. 

aloe vera trimming

Why should we trim an Aloe Vera plant?

There are different reasons behind trimming the Aloe Vera plant:

6 Tips To Growing Aloe Vera
6 Tips To Growing Aloe Vera
  • They are trimmed to extract the gel. 
  • They are pruned to propagate and replant for getting more plants.
  • You can trim an oversized plant to maintain a good shape.

Should I trim an oversized Aloe Vera plant?

Lots of gardeners have Aloe plants because they can thrive on neglect.

But constant neglect can make the plant’s growth out of control, thus making it huge and wild.

They need to be trimmed if ignored for a while.

You should trim these old and damaged leaves because they don’t do any good to the plant.

Instead, they take up all the energy from the plant, due to which the young green leaves don’t get the energy they need for their optimum growth.

The steps of trimming an oversized plant are no different than normal trimming.

Which leaves should be trimmed?

Cut the mature leaves.

Though Aloes are fast-growing plants among the other succulents, they take time to grow and mature compared to other plants.

You can trim them only when the Aloes have matured.

You can identify the mature leaves from their appearance.

The leaves are larger, thicker, heavier, and healthier than others.

Some of them will even bend outwards.

Look for the following features:

  • The outermost leaves on the sides of the plant
  • Hold and understand the density of the leaves.
  • Look for the largest, thickest, and broadest leaves with good density.
  • Remove the dead, dried, and discolored leaves.
  • The dead, damaged leaves are the discolored, dry, soft, and distorted leaves. It causes due to overwatering, underwatering, pests, or diseases. 
  • Removing these leaves from the plant allows the plant to breathe, grow new leaves, and make them look good and fresh.

To understand the damaged leaves more clearly, look for the following things:

  • Leaves turn brown and deepen over time.
  • Brittle-textured leaves break if touched.
  • Leaves drooping and falling over
  • Distorted and discolored leaves due to pest infestation
  • Leaves feel soft and mushy and release a foul odor

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Trimming the healthy leaves

You will have to cut the healthy leaves to replant them or extract the gel.

Cut the leaves on the outer edges of the plant.

Cut off the mature, healthy, and big leaves.

These leaves can give you lots of gel, and you can even use them for propagation.

Cut the leaf close to the stem.

If your hands shake while cutting a thick leaf, use a big cutting tool to prune it off.

Note: Don’t get disheartened to see your plant’s space after removing the leaves.

The empty place will soon get replaced with babies.

How to trim an Aloe Vera plant?

The steps to pruning the Aloe Vera leaves are easy.

You need to know the correct steps for it.

So, let’s start without further delay.

Step-by-step guide for trimming an Aloe Vera plant

Things required for trimming an Aloe Vera plant:

  • Sharp pruners or knife 
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • A cutting board
  • A mature plant with thick leaves
  • A jar with a lid

Now, let’s look at the steps of cutting an Aloe Vera plant:

Step 1: Choose a matured plant

First, you need to search for the right plant.

You must cut a leaf from an adult plant.

An adult plant measures around 16 inches in height. 

If you have a plant smaller than this size, it is not the right time for pruning.

But, if you still want to trim a plant, you have to buy an adult plant from the nursery.

Step 2: Pick the outer leaf and clip near the base

Now, you have to select the mature leaves for cutting.

These leaves will be present mostly on the exterior side of the plant. 

Always cut the leaves from the bottom, close to the stem.

Removing these excess leaves will let the plant breathe.

Step 3: Remove any damaged leaves

Tackle with the damaged leaves too in the process.

If the damaged leaves are inside, move the branches and leaves gently to look at the position of the cutting.

Cut them at the stem portion.

Don’t cut the leaves too close to the main stem.

They must get replaced with a new leaf. Cutting the main stem can stop the growth process.

Step 4: Remove any dried stems or flower

If your plant is mature enough, you will find them blooming.

Over time, the flowering stem and the flowers will fade and die.

Remove these dried stems and blooms. 

Letting them stay can be a problem because they will take up the nutrients which the plants can use for new growth.

Dead flowers and stems can attract bugs and absorb all the water. 

Step 5: Beaware of the yellow latex

Take a bowl filled with water before cutting the leaf.

Now, take a sharp knife and spray some rubbing alcohol to disinfect it.

It will prevent infections.

After you cut close to the stem, the leaf will release a yellow sap.

It is called latex.

Hold the leaf over the bowl filled with water so that the yellow sap drips into that bowl.

I would recommend wearing gloves while trimming.

If the sap comes in contact with your skin, it will irritate your skin.

After all the latex has dripped off, throw the water and rinse the bowl well. 

Take a cutting board as it is time to remove the skin and remove the gel. 

Step 6: Slit the aloe vera correctly

To properly cut the leaf for taking the gel out, first, cut the base and tip of the leaf.

An Aloe leaf is also called a Penca.

Now, prune off the thorns of the leaves from both sides.

Cut it in a longitudinal direction on both sides of the leaf.

Step 7: Take out the gel and store it correctly

Peel off the leaf’s skin and take the pulp or gel out of the leaf.

Place the gel in cold water for 2 hours. You can use it directly on your skin. 

The part that is not utilized can be stored in the refrigerator.

Take the cut leaf into a glass jar, cover it and store it in the fridge. 

Or, you can collect the gel in the jar by placing the leaf vertically to fall in the jar by gravity.

Don’t put it inside the fridge in such a condition.

Note: You can use these leaves for propagation.

Let them form callous for some days.

Take a container with drainage holes and fill it with the ideal soil mix. 

Dip the cut portion into the rooting hormone and place the leaf in the soil.

Moisten the soil and let the container stay under the filtered sun.

After one month, you can see a new plant.

How many leaves should be trimmed?

aloe vera clipping old leaves

One can confirm how many leaves can be trimmed.

It depends on the size of your plant.

There is a limit to cutting the leaves because removing too many leaves can weaken the plant.

If your Aloe Vera is a medium-sized plant, you can trim at least 8 to 12 leaves.

The plant should remain a minimum number of 6 to 8 leaves. 

Will Aloe Vera grow back after pruning?

Whether the leaves will grow back or not is a bit of confusion.

In some cases, the leaves grow back.

However, don’t worry if they are not growing back.

The empty spaces in the plant will get occupied by the baby plants.

Just because the leaves will grow back or the space after trimming gets filled by pups doesn’t mean you should cut the leaves frequently.

Frequent trimming can make the plant weak and kill them.

If you only trim the damaged leaves from time to time, the plant will stay alive for a long time.

Another situation where the plant will stay healthy is by pruning the older leaves.

It allows the plant to breathe, encourages new growth, and supplies sufficient energy needed by the young green leaves that are still growing.

How many leaves should I cut?

You should cut the whole leaf from the bottom, close to the stem. 

Even if you don’t remove this half-cut leaf, the plant will grow new leaf from some other side.

But then, it doesn’t make any sense to cut the leaf halfway. 

If you cut a leaf at the tip or halfway and think it will grow back, it will do no good.

You are obstructing the plant from growing a new one.

The cut portion will either get sealed or turn brown but will never grow back to become a full-grown Penca.

If you want to cut the leaf from an Aloe Vera, cut the entire leaf from the base, close to the stem.

Otherwise, the cut leaf will not get to grow a new leaf. It will even stop the plant from making a new stem.

How long will the Aloe Vera take to grow back after cutting?

Now that you have finished trimming the Aloe Vera leaves from the plant, you might be thinking about the time it will take to grow back to replace the old one.

There is no perfect answer to this subject.

The time behind the regrowth of new leaves depends on the health and size of the plant.

But, if you should ask, generally, a medium-sized Aloe Vera will take around 3 to 5 months to grow new leaves.

A big plant will take less time, provided it is healthy.

However, you can speed up the process by following certain steps to give them their best-growing conditions.

  • Water the plant once every 1-2 weeks. Let the soil dry before watering.
  • Don’t overwater them as they cannot stand damp conditions.
  • Use well-drained soil because Aloes enjoy dry conditions. 
  • Let the plant get adequate sunlight daily for 5 to 6 hours and warm temperatures between 55 to 70°F. 
  • Whether the sunlight will be direct or indirect depends on the condition of the plant. But don’t let them have harsh sun or dim light.
  • Fertilize occasionally during the months of spring and summer. Don’t fertilize in summer if the temperature crosses 70-80°F as they will go dormant. Avoid during the winters.

By following the above steps, you can increase their growth process and witness new growth faster.

Final thoughts

It is easy to trim the leaves of the Aloe vera plant. You can excel in this work with the right steps and practice.

Always choose the outer leaves first for trimming. Also, remove the damaged leaves in the process. If the damaged leaves are inside, still start trimming with the outer leaves. Then, slowly progress for the damaged leaves. 

The cut should be made close to the stem but not close to the main stem. Always choose the mature leaves from an adult plant. A healthy, old, thick, heavy, and broad leaf is ideal for cutting. Don’t hurt the young leaves that are still growing.

Trimming an Aloe Vera plant will be very easy with these simple steps.

Take care of the plant with adequate sunlight, water, soil, temperature, and fertilizer. Don’t overdo or underdo anything.


Reference: NCBINew York Botanical GardenUniversity of New HampshireUniversity of FloridaWikipedia.

Richa

Hello everyone, My name is Richa and I am here to make you a better gardener by creating an in-depth and helpful resource for all the fellow gardeners out there. If I could help even a few people understand their plants better then I call it a success for my efforts.

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