If you’ve ever seen someone with an aloe plant in their front yard or garden and then saw what looked like tiny little green tentacles coming out from underneath its leaves, you might be wondering how those things work.
Aloe is known for having long fleshy “tentacles” that can stretch up to several feet away from the main body of the plant (called corms), and we often see people using these as decorative additions to gardens or houseplants. But are all aloes this big? And if so, why don’t they just die off? The truth is that there are many different types of aloe plants that differ greatly in size and appearance, which means not every type of aloe has tentacle-like structures on top of its leaves. Some even look more like small bushes than actual plants!
The real question here isn’t “why does my aloe seem bigger than usual?” It’s much simpler — does your aloe need trimming at some point during its life? If yes, should you use scissors or clippers to do it? We spoke with two experts who gave us insight into one of nature’s most interesting phenomena: After being trimmed, some parts of the aloe may regrow themselves within days while other areas remain dead tissue. This process is called apical dominance, where certain branches or stems exert control over others around them because they’re larger. In short, if a stem gets pruned too severely, another part of the same plant will start growing instead. Aloe doesn’t always follow this rule though, but keep reading to find out what causes it.
How Do You Cut An Aloe Vera Plant Without Killing It?
In general, it’s safe to assume that any plant that grows back after being chopped down definitely needs care taken when clipping it. However, the exact reason behind why your aloe seems to get bigger after getting clipped varies depending on the species. One thing remains true across the board, however: Cutting a healthy aloe plant can kill it outright, especially since there aren’t very many instances where an aloe can simply drop dead after receiving injuries. So, before taking action, make sure that the aloe in question is well hydrated and hasn’t recently experienced harsh weather conditions. You should also consider whether the aloe in question belongs to a vulnerable group that could possibly become infected by disease.
Once you’re confident that everything looks good, check out our next tip. Depending on what kind of aloe it is, you have three options regarding tools used to perform the necessary maintenance. For example, if your aloe is a succulent variety, such as the common aloe ferox, then you can choose between sharp gardening shears or plastic kitchen utensils. A third option would be something like a pair of regular scissors, although this method requires less precision. On the other hand, if you own an aloe spiny variety, such as the popular aloe arborea, you’ll want to go with either a dull knife or specialized pruning shears. As far as timing goes, it usually takes about a week for the aloe to fully regain strength once its wounds heal. When you notice buds starting to appear, clip off any excess growth until the newly formed leaves show signs of health. Once the leaves begin to develop properly, remove any extra foliage that appears above the normal height range. At this point, you can stop worrying about keeping track of how tall the plant becomes.
What Happens To Aloe Plant After Cutting?
After performing all the aforementioned steps, you now know exactly what you need to do going forward. Now comes the time to prepare yourself mentally for what lies ahead. Yes, you read correctly. While it may sound counterintuitive, you shouldn’t worry about removing the tips of the aloe’s leaves before trying to sever the connections that allow them to communicate with each other. These tendrils act as pathways through which nutrients pass directly from roots to fresh leaves, which is an important aspect of maintaining a healthy plant. Removing the tops of the leaves first will only slow the flow of water and sap throughout the entire plant, causing it to wilt sooner rather than later.
As mentioned previously, it typically takes a few weeks for the aloe to recover once the cuts close enough for proper healing to occur. During this period, you can expect to observe changes happening under the surface of the soil, including a buildup of mucilage (similar to slimy ooze) in places where the new leaves connect together. Eventually, a layer of skin will form over the wound itself, making the connection nonfunctional again. Afterward, the original leaves will no longer receive any nutrient supply from the ground below, causing them to eventually fall off and decompose. Meanwhile, other sections of the aloe will continue to thrive thanks to the added oxygen and moisture brought forth by the newly created space beneath the soil.
It may help to imagine that the aloe’s outer covering acts as a protective shell similar to a turtle’s carapace, giving the plant a chance to rest safely inside its shelter until it feels strong enough to return to its previous state. Of course, turtles don’t lose their shells overnight, and neither will the aloe following removal. Instead, the whole recovery process will likely last somewhere between five days and four months, depending on the specific case. To prevent further complications, never try to dig up the aloe yourself unless you absolutely must. Doing so can damage the root system and cause additional harm to the surrounding area. Lastly, remember that the aloe’s lifespan can vary widely based on factors like temperature, sunlight intensity, and humidity level.
Will A Broken Aloe Leaf Grow Back?
While breaking or otherwise damaging an aloe leaf can potentially lead to its death, the chances of it returning are still pretty low. That said, if the leaf was damaged due to poor handling techniques, it may experience difficulties regrowing. Also, if the aloe didn’t receive adequate amounts of food prior to the breakage, this could result in slower overall development. More severe cases include diseases and pests, which may spread quickly among multiple parts of the aloe. Thankfully, most issues related to damaged leaves involve minor problems that can easily be fixed with basic DIY skills. Just remember that any leftover bits left unattended may soon attract insects looking for nourishment.