People have used aloe vera plants for various medicinal and cosmetic purposes--from smoothing complexions to treating burns and blisters--as far back as 4000 BC, according to Diane Gage, author of “Aloe Vera: Nature’s Soothing Healer.” You can use an aloe vera plant to soothe mild burns, cuts and scrapes by simply cutting off one of the leaves with a knife and gently rubbing the sap against the irritated skin. Whether you plan to share your aloe vera with friends and neighbors or you simply want to have several more of your own plants, the process of starting new aloe vera plant slips is simple and easy. All you need to get your plant slips is a mature aloe vera plant, a sharp knife and a bit of time.
Care for your aloe vera plant until it produces shoots. To do so, allow your plant to stay in bright sunlight most of the day. Soak the soil completely when you water it, but let it dry out completely in between watering sessions since it’s a succulent (a plant that retains water and is adapted to dry soil conditions). After just a few months, you should notice side shoots growing off the main aloe vera plant.
Harvest the aloe vera plant slips. Wait until the plant slips (also called “pups”) are about 3 to 4 inches tall before you detach them from the mother plant. Using your bare hands, gently disengage the pups from the mother plant, pulling gently but firmly. Each pup typically has its own system of roots. Most of the aloe slips should detach easily; if you have any pups that are directly attached to the mother, just use a sharp knife to slice them off.
Allow your sliced aloe vera pups to heal. Let each pup sit with the cut exposed to the air so the end can dry out and heal. This keeps disease organisms in the soil from infecting and killing the young plant. According to Arizona Cooperative Extension’s “Backyard Gardener,” 2 to 3 days should be long enough to allow the open cut to scab over and heal sufficiently for you to plant the pups.
Plant the aloe vera plant slips. Make sure the pots have drainage holes to keep the plants from getting waterlogged. Place 1 or 2 handfuls of small rocks or pebbles in the bottom of the pots to promote drainage. Fill the pots with regular commercial potting soil and insert the roots or the bottom 2 inches of the cut ends of the aloe vera pups into the soil, pressing the soil around the base of the plant to help secure it in place in the pot.
Care for your new pups in the same way that you care for your mature aloe vera plants.