Propagating In Place

Drought tolerant succulents make easy work for the aspiring propagator.

Let’s be honest, who here has never killed a plant? Maybe you overwatered it or maybe you’re one of those people who walk by your thirst craved, desiccating plant with a glass of water and think, “hmm…. wonder what I should do.” Maybe you even did your research and talked to your friends, and still, your plant croaked.

Whatever your affliction may be, you’re not alone. We’ve all killed a plant. Seems to be the ones you love the most are the most susceptible to an untimely death. I attribute this to over-care. I, for one, tend to put most of my attention to my most loved plants. This somewhat obsessive attention seems to fuel their tendency to die. I’ve found that in doubt, err on the side of neglect. Container plants do not require as much water as those planted in the ground. Of course, this all depends on temperature, placement and variety of plant. One type of plant that seems to be especially evasive are succulents. Something about these drought-tolerant plants just makes people want to water them, causing them to become over-saturated and die.

If you fear your succulent is on the verge of dying, do not, I REPEAT, do NOT throw it out and give up. Succulents are very easy to propagate and require very little care. These geometric beauties come in all forms, shapes, and sizes and are native to almost every continent. From the high desert to cool, wet shores these appealing plants are amazing additions to a plant collection, easy on the eyes and a lot of fun to grow. Just have patience, everything takes time.

You can propagate a succulent in many ways. You can pluck leaves and propagate from a single leaf, take a pup – a baby rosette that has grown from the mother plant – and if you’ve found that you did, in fact, overwater it, you can break your plant from its original root mass and plant it in dry dirt to revitalize it. This last method can take more time for your plant to resituate itself, but it still works.

The propagation method for all of these ways is essentially the same. I have had success propagating succulents in all the aforementioned ways but found the most successful and gratifying way to propagate succulents is to pluck a pup from a healthy mother plant and start a new plant. Although the other ways still produce a healthy plant, they take more time, which is always a hard pill to swallow. Again, be patient, waiting will serve you.

To propagate a pup from your mother plant take sharp scissors and cut the pup as close to the base of the mother plant as you can. Leave a couple inches of stem so that roots can grow from the stem area. Once you have separated your pup, place it into some well draining soil and let it sit completely dry for a while. The trick for propagating succulents is to keep the soil completely dry. You will drown developing roots if you water your new cutting. Depending on temperature, wait at least a week to water your succulent, probably two. When you finally decide your plant needs water, be sparing. These plants are very resilient and will grow faster if their roots are not saturated.

Lastly, and not to harp on this, but be patient! Growth takes time. Your plant won’t grow any faster if you obsess over it. Happy succulenting!

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