Planting a Young Aloe Tree

After the spate of landscaping we did this summer I often find myself sitting in the backyard with a coffee in the mornings or a beer in the evenings contemplating what I can do next. With so many new plants everything is fairly close to the same size; what's missing is a bit of height in the garden. Of course as the plants grow not everything will be the same height but I'm impatient for results. With that in mind I grabbed a shovel and one of my larger 15 gal aloes I'd been saving for some unknown reason and set to work on a recent Saturday in September.

First step, pick a spot and dig a hole.

Back in March I'd bought a 5 gal Aloe Thraskii for no particular reason other than it struck my fancy and transplanted it to a larger 15 gal container.

Next - drag out the candidate plant.
I've noticed with this aloe species that the leaves tend to be particularly prone to breaking with handling. In my mind, getting the plant out of the pot was going to be a chore for a few reasons - first the weight, second the delicacy and height of the plant makes it awkward to handle and lastly I wanted to save the pot... so no cutting the container allowed.

Time for a haircut
The best option I felt was to remove some of the older, lower leaves to make getting the plant out of the pot a little less awkward. I'm sure it hurt me more than it hurt the plant (at least that's what I told the plant).

Stow-away located

Typically when I remove plants from a pot I flip it upside down and let gravity do some of the work. In this case because of the weight and height of the plant this technique was not really an option. I also normally loosen the soil by squeezing the pot or in some cases placing the pot on it's side and stepping on the pot. What I never do is grab the plant by it's stalk and try to just pull it out with brute force... at least not mostly. Surprisingly because the soil was dry enough I was able to hold the pot sideways under my arm and slide out the plant by pulling on the stalk. It just came out in one giant pot shaped, lump of dirt that was held together by a surprisingly vigorous root system.

Just six months of growth!

Honestly I was blown away by just how much this Aloe thraskii had grown in 6 short months. I don't have a lot of experience with tree aloes so maybe this is normal. At any rate the next step is to loosen the soil, untangle and possibly remove some of the roots.

Ready to go in the ground.

Safely ensconced in a new home circa September

All the above photos were taken a month and half ago so let's zoom forward in time to this morning and checkout how the plant has progressed. Hmm... looks pretty much the same although maybe the leaves are a bit plumper. At any rate this aloe seems very happy in it's new home.

Progress as of early November

Last weekend I planted a few more aloes, which will some day grow big and strong, along the back fence . The first is one, an Aloe helenae,  I purchased from the Institute for Aloe Studies and mentioned back in September. It has a particularly beautiful drooping form when mature.

Young Aloe helenae

Within several feet I planted a second Aloe ferox which was doing nothing more than languishing in a 5 gal pot. The first A. ferox I planted in bed #2 as described here.

Aloe ferox
I look forward to a winter in the future when these plants will be big enough to flower.


  1. You're braver - and probably a lot stronger - than I am. I've stuck to planting smaller specimens just because I can manage them without personal injury or damage to the plant. But a succulent garden with plants all the same size can indeed be disappointing. And then there's the problem that planting agaves of the same size at the same time can mean having them bloom and die and the same time too, a situation I'm currently facing with 2 Agave desmettiana.

  2. yep - it is tough to work with larger plants especially when they are delicate. I was a little nervous. I did notice yesterday that this same Aloe is just starting to bloom! I was very surprised since a sibling plant which has been in the ground for far longer isn't showing any signs of putting up a bloom. Go figure. maybe a difference in watering?


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