A weekend job - Upsizing Aloes to Bigger Pots

 About 10 months ago I pulled off several larger pups from an Aloe vaombe while doing some cleanup. I don't have pictures from that day but I took a few this morning when I decided to upgrade them to larger pots.

Below are a few pictures to show where they ended up (before replanting). The larger plant has roots growing out the bottom of the pot where they were apparently happy crawling through a layer of doug fir mini mulch.

Aloe vaombe in a 7 gallon pot
Aloe vaombe - 7 gal

Aloe vaombe in 5 gallon pot
Aloe vaombe - 5 gal

I've already trimmed off the old, dried leaves to make handling easier during replanting.

Removing an Aloe from a nursery pot for replanting
Loosening the soil

The roots seem to grow quickly to the interior edges of these pots and form a bond - but applying pressure is usually enough to loosen them. Depending on how big the pot is I generally accomplish this by squishing the pot against something sturdy. The easiest method is to gently use my whole body weight when pushing. It also doesn't hurt to bang the bottom of the pot a few times w/my fist. 

Removing an Aloe vaombe from a 5 gallon pot
Let gravity do the work


Be careful not to damage the top of the plant when holding it upside down.

Aloe vaombe being removed from pot
Hopefully it just slides out!

One thing to keep in mind at this point - don't worry about setting the pot on the ground nicely. The precariously held plant is the priority - the pot can just fall to the ground and be fine.

Placing Aloe vaombe in a larger pot.
Say "Aloe" to your new home my little friend!

Of course not every plant is so easy to handle but I generally use a similar technique (your mileage may vary).

Agave bracteosa 'Mateo' out of pot showing roots
Agave bracteosa 'Mateo'

I no longer try to be very careful with the roots of larger Aloes or Agave. When the plant is on the way to becoming root bound I untangle them a bit and tear off longer strands. From my short experience the root systems of these plants appear to grow aggressively and I've no doubt I could safely remove most of whats shown above.

Newly transplanted Aloe vaombe in 15 gal pots
Aloe vaombe in their new 15 gal homes

Here these plants will sit until I figure out a plan. Unfortunately they have not fared well in my yard because of ants and aphids which is a shame as they really are one of my favorites. I'm guessing they have 12-18 months of new growing room although I've seen other Aloes explode in growth right after replanting. Who knows - I may be back at it sooner rather than later.

What are your favorite replanting techniques?


  1. All I can say is that I try to get plants in the ground before they get that big. I'm afraid I'd mutilate plants that size in the process of easing them out of their pots. Heck, I had problems moving dahlias I had in 3-gallon containers into the ground after they'd sprouted.


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