There are two ways to grow succulents: Cutting the stem and slicing the offsets, or ‘pups’. Stem cutting is the best choice for these house plants that have grown too leggy while slicing the pups will only work with those that produce the little plantlings.
Here, Gavin Cole, a horticulturist with ACS Distance Education, shares his top tips for both methods of growing succulents. It’s so easy, you don’t even need to have a green thumb to do it!
1. Cut the stem
Cut each stem with clean secateurs and then remove two-thirds of the leaves from the bottom.
Once you’ve got your cuttings, you must allow the end of the stem to harden off. Gavin suggests leaving them in a cool, semi-shaded spot like your living room for a few days. It’s important that they don’t get wet.
“There are two reasons to harden off the stem: It will stop diseases entering through the plant tissue, and it will stop the plant from getting too much moisture entering through the open wound,” says Gavin.
“Once you’ve planted the succulent you just water the soil once a week. Over the course of one to three months, it will form roots and start to grow.”
2. Slice the pups
Certain succulent plants, such as aeoniums and aloe plants, will produce offsets, or small plants that are easy to grow at the base of the specimen. Others you can propagate just by cutting some leaves off the main plant.
Gavin says that most of the time, these pups will have their own tiny roots. With those, you’re best to use a sharp knife to slice them off, because they tend to be partially attached to the base of the stem and on the root of the main plant. Be careful not to damage any pup roots that might have emerged.
If no roots have formed yet, you’ll need to set them aside to harden off, just like you would with the cuttings, and pot them in soil and wait for their roots to grow. Make sure to opt for pots with drainage holes.
TIP: Prevent disease spreading from plant to plant by always using clean secateurs. Keep a damp cloth soaked in methylated spirits diluted in water handy, and wipe the blade clean with each plant you cut.
3. How to take care of indoor succulents
It’s one thing to propagate your succulents, but you need to make sure you give them ongoing attention to keep them alive.
Yes – succulent plants are low maintenance, but they’ll need water at least once a week to keep them alive. However: “The key is to not overwater them and always remember to dry between waterings because that could cause rot.”
As a general rule of thumb, always ensure you use the appropriate-sized terra cotta pot when planting to allow the roots to develop. “If you put them in too big a pot, the water won’t get to the roots,” Gavin says.
Somewillgrow easier than others, so don’t be disheartened if you end up with a few casualties – just snip off another cutting and try again!
How does it work?
Generally speaking, succulents contain a lot of water and that gives them this tremendous ability to reproduce from cuttings.
“The problem with a lot of other plants is that they dry out very quickly when you go to propagate because they don’t have that same reserve of water,” Gavin says.
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