Garden

Propagating Succulents

Some people hear “Propagation” and they assume propagating is going to be a difficult process. Just follow these directions and you’ll be living in a thriving succulent collection before you know it. At the end of the day, these succulent plants will give you back way more than you will lose.

 In fact, it’s so easy you can’t fail. You hear that? YOU CANNOT FAIL!!!! 

 

1

Remove the lower leaves. Chop the remaining rosette from the stem
Let all the parts dry out and create a callous after they’ve been removed
Place on top of soil until roots and baby plants start forming
Remove the original leaf and plant the new offspring, as well as the original rosette – Tada ~  Presto!!

2 Now that you’ve removed the lower leaves, you should be left with a small rosette on a short stem. Now, you make like Edward Scissorhands and cut that guy off with a sharp pair of scissors or a knife. Don’t discard the rosette or the pot with the stem though – they’ll both be back for round two shortly. Stay tuned.

3 Step three is actually the most important step of all, and it requires you to do… nothing. That’s right, absolutely nothing. You just need to sit tight and wait for your amputated plant parts to dry out and

Propagating succulents is easy!

create a callous where they’ve been removed. Planting the leaves immediately will mean they don’t have a chance to heal and will rot in the soil. Leave out to dry for approximately a week.

These plants will be calloused over it’s time to place the leaves on top of the soil. Not in, just on top. They’ll need lots of indirect sunlight and precious little else. After a few weeks you’ll see pink tendrils or roots sprouting from the ends which will soon turn into baby plants – at this point, mist with water every other day to keep the soil moist and the babies fed.

When Do You Propagate

If you have a succulent that is starting to look leggy, now is the time to propagate. What’s a leggy succulent, you ask? Sadly, it’s not a plant that looks like Heidi Klum. It happens when a succulent isn’t getting enough light and starts to stretch out, with a woody stem and widely spaced leaves.

Propagating with stem cuttings works best with plants that have “branches” or rosette-shaped succulents that have stretched out on a long stem. This process is most successful if done when the succulent is about to begin its active growth period, either at the end of a dormant period (usually winter months) or at the beginning of a growth period (usually spring months) to give the succulent the best chance for survival.

Since the stems have calloused, fill a shallow tray with well-draining cactus/succulent soil and place the cuttings on top. Within a few weeks, roots and tiny plants will begin to grow from the base of the cuttings. Water minimally until the roots appear, then approximately once a week; be careful to avoid overwatering. Eventually, the “parent” leaf will wither– remove it carefully, being sure to not damage the new roots. Allow your propagated succulents to take root, then they can be replanted as desired. Avoid placing them in direct sun until the plants are established.

Once the stem has calloused, rest a cutting on the rim of a glass or jar of water, with the end of the stem just above the surface of the water. Choose a sunny spot for your glass. Over time, the cutting will sprout roots that reach toward the water. Once roots have developed, your new succulent can continue to live in the water (as shown above) or be replanted in the succulent potting soil. We suggest Miracle brand products.

Many species of succulents will produce offsets or small plants that grow at the base of the main specimen. Once an offset has grown for 2-3 weeks, check for root development and remove it from the main stem with a sharp knife or snips, or by twisting gently. Be careful to avoid damaging any roots that have already emerged. Follow the steps above for propagating in soil or water, allowing the offsets to dry, form a callous over any open areas, and develop roots before repotting. As a bonus, removing offsets also improves the health of your existing succulents, returning energy to the growth of the main plant.

Often mew succulents sprout from cuttings. This technique works best with plants that have grown too leggy. To begin, carefully remove any leaves on the stem below the rosette– wiggle them gently from side to side and make sure to keep the base of the leaf intact. Once all the leaves have been removed, use shears to snip the rosette, leaving a short stem attached. Allow the cuttings to dry for a few days in an empty tray until the raw ends have calloused. Next, the cuttings can be rooted in soil or water.  Within three weeks or so, little roots and leaves will begin to sprout! It could take a few months before a succulent gets big enough for repotting (photos above are after about 8 weeks). You’ll know it’s time when the leaf eventually turns brown and falls off. This means the succulent has taken all of the nutrients from the leaf and no longer needs it.

To take a proper cutting from a succulent that has branches, you’ll need a sharp, sterilized knife or razor blade. Choose a stem that is relatively short to ensure it is active and growing, hold the stem as close to the base as possible, then use your knife or razor blade to cut it cleanly from the parent plant. If the stem is damaged at all during this process, you’ll likely need a new cutting. The branch will need to heal for about four days before it is repotted. Once repotted, give the plant plenty of bright light and barely water, and it will root itself in its new planter in about four weeks.

Rosette-shaped succulents can also be propagated with stem cuttings when they begin to grow a long stem from maturity or lack of sunlight. The rosette can be cut off with a sharp, sterile knife, leaving a short stem to enable repotting. Allow the cut rosette to callous for about four days to prevent rotting and disease when it’s repotted. The long stem from which the rosette was removed will continue to form new leaves, so leave it potted or planted as it was, and barely water until new growth appears from the stem.

Propagating succulents with seeds is typically the slowest way to grow new plants, but if you have the time and patience, give it a try! Seeds of mature plants are located in the swollen base of the flower (AKA the “fruit”), and they can be collected when the succulent is done flowering. In some instances, the seed will be an orange-colored dust, which can be slightly more difficult to propagate with. Whether collecting seeds from a mature plant or buying seeds to use, always use fresh, dry seeds in the beginning of spring to give them a long growing period before winter dormancy.

First, prepare a planter with cactus/succulent soil, water it thoroughly, then soak your seeds in warm water for about 30 minutes to loosen up the seed coat. Once soaked and softened, spread the seeds on top of the prepared soil, keeping spaces between them to allow growth. Next, cover the seeds with just enough “top dressing,” like sand or sifted cactus/succulent soil, without burying them. Use a spray bottle to water the seeds daily with a fine mist, only allowing the top surface to dry out between waterings.

Keep the planter in a warm environment, anywhere from 75-80ºF. A fun trick is to cover the planter with a clear plastic of some kind (ziplock bag, plastic bucket) to create a greenhouse effect. This will keep the seeds moist and warm, and it’s a great option for those in cool or dry climates. The seeds will begin to germinate in about two weeks, and after about six weeks, you should be able to water about every other day.

Now that you have a basic understanding of the different methods of propagation, you can experiment! Be patient if you’re just learning to propagate succulents, as there is always a bit of a learning curve. While we aim to provide you with the best information possible to be successful, every individual will have different experiences when propagating. The more you practice, the more likely you’ll be successful!

  •  Old-hand gardeners know for best success indoor cactus and succulent plants require a certain amount of neglect.

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