The Taming of the Aloe Vera

The Aloe Vera is possibly one on my most treasured possessions. When my grandfather moved into an assisted living complex he didn't want the fuss of taking a huge plant with him. So I got it instead.

Having this 40-year old family heirloom is surprisingly stressful. The reason being, because it's a living thing, it would be terrible for it to die. And since it has not been repotted since I've been alive, the plant is pretty crowded. Logistically, the only way to repot the plant would be to take a circular saw to the 1970s art deco ceramic pot. The other option, to transplant. I had never transplanted anything before so it was an experience. 

The Mama plant has two original shoots that make up most of the weight of the plant. From these sprouted 5 new growths that have been growing for 2 - 4 years. Since I was worried about transplanting in general, I picked the youngest three plants to be separated from the Mama plant. Logic being, that if they die, the main plant will still be intact, hopefully. So I went an bought three pots, with the help of my cousin Michelle. For the transplant medium, I mixed together half-seedling soil/half-miracle grow soil. (I'm still not sure what kind of soil the plant likes best, but it sprouted all those new babies after I topped the original pot up with seedling soil.) 

Then the hard part. Because the Mama plant is so totally root bound in that 1970s pot, I had to excavate the root system to get the baby plant roots loose enough to come out.  Lucky for me, with a lot of wiggling and poking with a teaspoon, tweedle dee and tweedle dum came out easy-peasy. They were both attached to the main plant by a soft base, which easily broke off, and they had short roots that hadn't had time to riggle into the knot of roots bound in the pot. Number One, however, was the oldest of the three plants and had very tangled roots. The base had also hardened so it was strong and woody and hard to move. With a lot of pulling however, I got it out with most of the roots intact.

So, all divided up, I got three little Aloe Veras and the Mama plant. Both my lady cousins got one, and our plant-friend Jon got one too. I couple months later I asked for pictures of the baby Aloe Veras. They seemed to be growing but the outer leaves on all the plants were browning. I'm thinking probably because the root system they had was too small to sustain the plant. But they will grow!

Also, not to disappoint the name, the Mama plant has been back at it, making two new sprouts for me to deal with later in their lives.  Sigh. 


The Half-Assed Hobbyist