Budget Gardening: Two or More Succulents for the Price of One

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Budget Gardening

Budget Gardening

For those of us who love succulents, there is a price to pay. These water-wise plants often cost a lot of money. If you have a bottomless wallet, that may not be a problem, but for those of us who live on a budget and want to include these lovely plants in our landscapes, it can be a problem.

succulent plant

Thankfully, there is something that you can do in many cases to turn one succulent plant into several. I’ll show you how I did this when I bought a ‘Blue Elf’ aloe, which I had wanted for a long time.

‘Blue Elf’ aloe is a more compact aloe that is quite popular. Like most aloes, it does best in bright shade or filtered sunlight. Orange flowers appear in later winter and last into spring, adding a welcome splash of color to winter gardens.

Desert Botanical Garden

I visited the Desert Botanical Garden’s fall plant sale the other day and had a list of plants I wanted in my garden. One of my must haves was three ‘Blue Elf’ aloe plants. The holes were already dug, and all I needed were my little aloes.

Budget Gardening

Budget Gardening

The problem was that initially, I could only find 3-gallon specimens for $30 and not the smaller 1-gallon I was hoping to find. Later, I did see them in the 1-gallon size for $20 apiece. Ouch! So, what was I to do? I certainly didn’t want to spend $60 for three 1-gallon plants.

Budget Gardening

I went back to look at those in the 3-gallon containers and noted that there were at least three good-sized clumps of aloe, which was all I needed. So I bought it and took it home.

Budget Gardening

Using a sharp hand shovel, I cut through the root ball, isolating each clump.

Budget Gardening

Out came several nice-sized aloes, ready to be planted. 

Budget Gardening

I planted them in my pre-dug holes, where they will root nicely with some supplemental water.

It turns out that there weren’t just three but five clumps of ‘Blue Elf’ aloe, so I found two more areas to plant them. 

So, instead of paying $60 for three 1-gallons, I got 5 ‘Blue Elf’ aloe for $6 each, which, for succulents, is a great deal!

Another type of succulent where you can sometimes find ‘extra’ plants in a nursery container is agave.

Budget Gardening

At the same plant sale, many different species of agave were on display, ready to be purchased. While not all types of agave make ‘babies’ (pups), a lot of them do. Can you spot the two agave containers in the photo above where there is more than one agave growing?

The next time you are shopping for aloe or agave for your garden, take a close look at them in their nursery containers – you may find two or more plants for the price of one. How cool is that?

Succulents, More Than Just Drought Tolerant

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."
14 replies
  1. Sabrina in Surprise
    Sabrina in Surprise says:

    Great tip Noelle! Did you get everything on your list? Perhaps make a new youtube video on your new additions?

  2. Cheryl
    Cheryl says:

    Also watch for Gardner’s cleaning up the baby’s that have sprouted around a bigger specimen…. I lucked out the other day and got a carload for free! I love succulents too here in Southern California!

  3. Cindy
    Cindy says:

    Thank you for this helpful article. Are there other succulents you can suggest that can be divided similarly?

  4. A Joyful Chaos
    A Joyful Chaos says:

    I love succulents, though I don’t have any at the moment. My houseplants all took quite a hit after we moved halfway across the country. I tried babying them along as best I could, but they never did adjust to our new home and one by one they dies. It made me sad.


  5. Debbie
    Debbie says:

    New to your wonderful writings and toAz. Pl wondering what nursery you’ve found Blue Elf aloes at and why are they named as such? Thank you and keep up on writing. Is as good for the soul as gardening I believe!

  6. arizonaplantlady@gmail.com
    arizonaplantlady@gmail.com says:

    Hi Debbie,

    Welcome to Arizona! Blue Elf aloe can be found in most nurseries, particularly those that carry succulents. I’ve even seen them at the big box stores on occasion. I’m thinking that their name comes from their small size and blue/gray coloring.

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