I’ve been painting pots again. You can probably figure out what that means. That’s right – baby plants!

Today, we’re going to divide Sam the Aloe Vera plant into several smaller plants. He’s far bigger than he used to be:

Sam used to live on my kitchen windowsill, but when he got too big for that spot, I moved him in with Rosa the Jade and the E. Sill Band. Then he got too big for that spot, so he got his own small south-facing windowsill in the living room. Then he outgrew that spot, too.

Aloes don’t actually mind being cramped in a small pot – they can live happily like that for a long time. But Sam’s grown out of control. His leaves are flopping all over the place and he’s become top heavy. He’s outgrowing his container as well as his spot on the windowsill.

I haven’t been properly watering him lately, and to make sure I know it, he’s gotten some black spots on his leaves and brown tips on some of the leaves. The brown tips could be caused by lack of humidity in the air (which it is, this is the desert), but on this particular plant, I know it’s mostly his way of saying “I don’t like it when you forget to water me, then you dump too much water on me.” Which I’d done a couple of times in a row.

Because there are so many babies in the pot, I knew it was time for a big transplant.

I prepped for the transplant by painting clay pots and saucers for the baby plants. I find it relaxing to paint, and I love having pretty little colorful pots. Life’s better when stuff is pretty, don’t you agree?

I sealed the clay with a sealant I found at the craft store so water wouldn’t ruin the paint job. I could’ve also used a growers’ pot (a cheap plastic one) and placed it inside a decorative container if I was worried about the paint. But I wasn’t.

Once the pots and saucers were ready, I started in on Sam. I picked early morning to do the work, because it gets so hot here in Albuquerque during the day.

Step one, remove him from the current container:

Yeah, you can see he’s ready for new digs by how thick his roots are.

Step two was to break the plant into a million pieces:

Ok maybe it wasn’t a million pieces. There were three main stems and dozens of offsets. I started snapping off the babies and placing them in five of the new pots, which were filled halfway with high-quality potting soil:

I was doing normal maintenance stuff during the transplant, including snipping off those brown tips and black spots, and pulling off dried lower leaves. Aesthetics again!

I could’ve separated out the three big stems into individual pots, but I only had one pot available for Sam’s new home. So they all went into it.

Meet the reborn Sam:

Spiffy, eh? It would’ve been nice if I could’ve stood all of the stems up straight, but oh well – I’m the one who allowed them to grow all twisty and turned in the first place. At least there’s fresh soil and a lot more breathing room. Maybe that stem will grow up one day, haha.

Once Sam was fine, I turned my attention to the babies. I added more soil around the new plants, and padded them firmly in place in the center of each pot.

Here’s the family portrait I took afterward:

Aw, so cute!

Now, who’d like to buy an Aloe plant in a hand-painted pot? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? If you’re interested, leave a comment for me or shoot me an email. I have no compunction about breaking up a happy family (of plants, that is).

My Experts will be back manana in an all-new Friday Ask the Experts panel. We’ll be talking about fall. We’ll also have a new plant puzzler. Hope to see you here.

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