Everyone loves succulents, for gardens indoors and out. They are extremely low-maintenance and provide a range of interesting shapes and textures for your landscape, container garden, or houseplant collection. Because succulents carry a large part of their food and water supply in their leaves and offshoots, it’s easy to propagate them, which means you can always have a low-cost source for obtaining more plants. Using three favorite succulents as examples, here are the steps to follow if you want to propagate your own:
Echeveria, like sedum, jade, and most other succulents with leaves, can be propagated as follows:
- Gently twist a leaf off the plant making sure to get the whole thing without tearing it.
- Let the leaf dry three to four days or until the end where it was broken from the stem heals over.
- Set the leaf into a shallow bed of potting soil formulated for succulents (available at most garden centers). Make sure the broken end of the leaf is making good contact with the soil.
- Place in a spot with strong, but indirect, light and water the top of the soil lightly a few times a week. Within a few weeks, roots will start to form and grow baby plants.
- Once the baby succulents are about an inch high (2.5 centimeters), carefully remove the original leaf (now probably starting to wither) and pot the baby plants.
Hens and Chicks
Hens and chicks can be propagated from a single leaf, from the plant offsets (“baby chicks”), or from the stems of taller species.
Start a plant from one of the offsets (or “chicks”)
- The baby chicks that grow from the mother plant (or “hen”) can be worked gently free from the hen and placed base down on top of a succulent potting mix. It’s best to select babies that are at least an inch (2.5 centimeters) in diameter to get off to the best start.
- Place in a pot with holes in the bottom for drainage and place the pot in strong but indirect light.
- Don’t water until roots form (you’ll be able to tell because the chick will become fixed in place) then water regularly, allowing the top of the soil to dry out between waterings.
Start a plant from a stem
- For the varieties of hens and chicks that grow upright branches, you can propagate by cutting a branch one to two inches (2.5 to 5 centimeters) below the leaf head.
- Let the branch cut heal and dry as you would with a leaf, then insert it into a two-inch (2.5 centimeter) pot filled with succulent potting soil.
- Place in a spot with strong, but indirect, light and water the top of the soil lightly a few times a week. Within a few weeks, roots will start to form.
Aloe plants can be propagated in two ways; using the plant’s leaves or the baby plants that develop at the base of the “mother” plant.
Take leaf cuttings
- Using a sharp knife or pruning tool, smoothly and cleanly cut off a leaf near the base of the plant.
- The cut end will ooze a clear, gel-like substance so be prepared to place the leaf on a dish, cloth, or other surface. Let the cutting sit for 2-3 days until the cut end dries and heals over.
- Place the cutting into a pot of sterile planting mix with the cut end in the soil.
- Put in a location with strong, but indirect, light and water the top of the soil lightly a few times a week. Within a few weeks, roots will start to form.
Remove baby plants
- Find one of the baby aloe plants at the base of the mother plant, make sure it has at least four leaves, and carefully cut it away from the roots of the mother plant.
- Let the cut dry and heal for several days then continue as you would for a chick offset (above).
Succulents are some of the hottest plants around. They’re fun and easy to grow, and available in so many interesting varieties. The only real problem with them is you never seem to have enough! But follow these steps for propagating your own succulents, and you’ll be able to home-grow a garden full of these popular plants with plenty left over to share with your plant-loving friends.
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