Pruning your aloe plant allows you to remove dead and diseased leaves and shape the plant’s form. I always aim to prune during the late winter or early spring. It’s important to use sharp and sanitized tools, and never remove more than a quarter of the leaves at once. Here’s everything I do to successfully prune and shape Aloe plants at home.
The Role Pruning Plays in Plant Health, Growth, and Care
Pruning is a way to help remove dying, diseased, or discolored plant tissue. Removing these leaves allows the plant to direct its energy to healthier leaves. With due care and attention, aloe plants can thrive for years.
Pruning can also be helpful when a plant becomes overgrown (whether you’re growing aloe plants indoors or outside). Removing excess growth can help plant branches or leaves from rubbing against each other and also help improve airflow.
Aloe plants typically max out at about three feet tall and three feet wide indoors.
Their growth rate depends on environmental factors such as sunlight and temperature. That said, aloe typically grows at a moderate rate.
Best Time of Year to Prune Aloe Plants
The best time to prune aloe plants is the late winter or early spring. At this time, plants are just beginning to resume rapid growth. Therefore, after they’ve been pruned, they can quickly recover.
However, it is okay to prune aloe plants at other times of the year. This is especially true if the plant has developed disease issues that demand immediate action.
Essential Tools for Pruning
The proper tools are essential for pruning your aloe plants. Using your hands or a dull knife may harm your plant more than you help it.
The best pruning tools are both sharp and sanitized.
A sharp blade ensures a clean cut, which minimizes the damage that occurs to the plant during pruning. This increases the likelihood that your aloe plant will heal without issue.
Sanitization is important for preventing the spread of disease. You should sanitize your pruning tools both before and after pruning.
To sanitize, begin washing your tools with hot and soapy water. Next, create a solution of nine parts water and one part bleach. Place your tools in the solution and allow them to soak for 30 minutes.
As far as what tools to use, a sharp knife or a pair of pruning shears are suitable options.
Whilst aloe plants offer a host of uses and benefits, the latex layer between an aloe leaf’s skin and flesh is considered toxic, so it’s generally prudent to wear protective gloves when performing these types of plant care activities.
Best Times to Prune
In many cases, you do not need to prune aloe plants. Healthy plants can be left alone and allowed to thrive.
Pruning healthy plants can actually be more harmful than helpful since pruning is an innately stressful process.
So, when should you prune your aloe plants?
You may choose to prune if you notice your plant isn’t looking quite how you would like. Perhaps offset leaves are causing the plant to lean to one side, or some leaves have become yellow or diseased.
In these cases, pruning can help your aloe plant return to a healthier shape and state.
You may also want to prune off leaves so you can use them for skin conditions or in beverages.
If you decide it’s time to prune your aloe plant, follow these steps.
- Gather a sharp and sanitized knife or pair of pruning shears.
- Take a good look at your aloe plant and note any leaves that you would like to remove. Some things to look for are discolored, diseased, or dying leaves. You should also take note of any large leaves that are causing the plant to bend over.
- Once you’ve identified the leaves you’d like to remove, note where they connect to the rest of the plant.
- Using your pruning tool, cut the leaves as close to the base of the plant as possible.
- Next, look for any dead or brown leaf tips (or brown spots on aloe leaves). Trim the tips of these leaves to remove the damaged parts.
When you prune your aloe plant, remember to note remove more than a quarter of the plant’s leaves at one time.
You can also move small aloe plantlets, or pups, that appear at the base of the larger aloe plant. To do this, simply cut the pups just below the soil surface.
If the pups are very small, you may also be able to remove them by gently tugging on them with your hands. You can then dispose of the pups or repot them in a new container.
Shaping Aloe Plants
When it comes time to prune your aloe plant, you should start with the other leaves. Removing these older leaves will allow smaller and younger leaves to grow.
If you find your aloe plant is lopsided, you can trim leaves off of the side that the plant is leaning towards. You may also want to insert a wooden stake and tie the plant to the stake to help support it.
Another issue that can occur with your aloe plant is that it develops an elongated and floppy form. This may occur if your plant does not receive enough light.
If this happens, it may be best to cut off the top of the aloe plant and then repot it. This will give this plant a chance to develop a sturdier structure.
Post Pruning Care
After you prune your aloe plant, continue to care for it as usual. Do not overwater aloe plants, and ensure it receives plenty of sunlight and position your aloe plant somewhere with warm, ambient temperatures throughout the majority of the day.
Aloe Plant Pruning FAQs:
How Often Should I Prune My Aloe Plant?
If your aloe plant is healthy, you can prune it once a year. However, you may need to prune it more often if the leaves become diseased or discolored.
Can I Cut Off the Excess Leaves from an Aloe Plant?
Yes, you can cut off excess leaves from your aloe plant. However, you should not remove more than a quarter of the plant’s leaves at once.
Should I Cut the Brown Leaves Off My Aloe Plant?
Cutting the brown or yellow leaves off of your aloe plant will allow your plant to direct energy to healthy leaves. Removing the brown leaves will also help prevent any disease from spreading.
How Do You Make Aloe Plant Leaves Bigger?
Aloe plant leaves will only get bigger on their own. You can provide lots of bright light and warm temperatures to encourage the leaves to grow.
Does Pruning Speed Up Aloe Plant Growth?
Pruning off dying or diseased leaves can encourage an aloe plant to send energy to healthy leaves. This may help these leaves grow more quickly.
Aloe Plant Pruning – The Final Word
Pruning your aloe plant can help you remove dead or diseased tissue and also help you shape your plant. Just remember to never remove more than a quarter of the leaves at once! With a little care and attention, these symbolic plants will thrive for years to come.
For more, see our in-depth guide Aloe plant care guide.
Briana holds a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Penn State University. She manages a small market garden where she grows vegetables and herbs. She also enjoys growing flowers and houseplants at home.