Mangave Propagation by Division

This past week I tackled a project I've been putting off for years - dividing and re-potting several Mangave "Macho Mocha".

 Here's a view of the end state.

Newly divided Mangaves

But, lets start at the beginning - the very beginning.  I bought these plants awhile back as plugs.

They grew quickly but keeping them in nursery pots outside turned into a maintenance headache. They took up too much space in our small backyard and I eventually tried to get rid of as many as possible or just let them languish in forgotten corners.

Mangave "Macho Mocha" in sad shape

Step one was hold the plants upside down and shaking off as much of the accumulated debris as possible before removing the Mangave from their pots.

Typical of how root-bound all the Mangave were after a few years

Circling roots means it is past time to re-pot

Mix of old and new roots


California had a lot of rain this year which was tough on some of the potted plants but what didn't make the news was a few, brief hail storms. Mangave can be particularly prone to scarring from hail because of the fleshy leaves.

Even the briefest of hail storms can leave scars

Given the right conditions, Mangave will recover quickly.

New leaf growth after several weeks in a greenhouse


Another step was to remove the excess root mass which for the most part peeled off like an old sock. There was really no way to avoid removing some of the new roots with the old.

Excess root mass removed (sry for blurry pic!)

With each plant I found a spot that looked to provide enough room to begin pulling apart the offsets.

Find a spot between offsets to begin pulling the root mass apart


Offsets break off with a distinctive "Snap!" The trick is to break the offset close enough to the parent plant that it comes away with roots.

An offset with one root - good enough for me


The smaller the offsets the more likely they were to come off with no roots in which case I didn't bother to save them.

Some smaller basal offsets with roots

I'm guessing the crunchy leaf tips below are from a combo of root-bound plants and the extreme rain we had on the West Coast this year. Leaf tips are easy enough to trim.

Original plant with offsets removed

Pruning over the last few years has left a collar dead leaves around the original plants and to a lesser degree some of the offsets.

Removing remnants of old leaf growth

Ready to repot

The roots once exposed, as shown in the above picture, tended to dry out quickly. I made an effort to re-pot them quickly. Time will tell if my work was good enough for this crop of plants!

There were a few plants that I've kept in a small greenhouse over the last year and moved to larger pots. They have ended up looking much nicer.

A healthy Mangave Macho Mocha

Mangave Macho Mocha

This wasn't a fun project but at least my guilt is finally assuaged. Hopefully the newly divided plants will grow quickly look like the above.

Happy propagating!


  1. I hope your hard work quickly proves profitable!

  2. I potted up a couple dozen Zinnia seedlings and I was exhausted. Easy-peasy compared with those Mangaves!

  3. I have a bunch of mangaves that also need dividing so thanks for the tutorial. What will you do with all of your pups now?


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