House plants are trendy right now, and no plant is having more of a moment in the sun than succulents. A reason for this could be because they come in such a variety and are easy to maintain, but it doesn’t hurt that they are adorable with their squat posture and abundant leaves. Succulents are easy plants to propagate, that is, start a new plant from an existing one. Here are 12 tricks to expand your succulent collection without breaking the bank.
1. Choosing the Right Succulents
You can propagate new succulents from any existing plant, but some are easier than others. Varieties that regularly lose leaves, such as Plush Plants or Painted Ladies, are easy because you can scoop up dropped leaves and start with those.
2. Patience is a Virtue
Good things come to those who wait, and new plants are one of those things. Propagating your plants is cost-effective and rewarding but does not come with the instant gratification of running down to the local greenhouse and scooping up a new succulent. Cuttings can take up to six weeks to begin showing signs of rooting, so don’t give up when you don’t see instant results.
3. Hydration is Vital
While succulents don’t require frequent watering, they do need water. Especially, when they are just getting started and working hard to put down new roots. A light misting daily is a good amount for propagating plants. Be careful not to over-saturate your plant before its leaves have begun to harden, or you could end up with mushy rotten leaves.
4. Some Shade is Your Friend
While grown, hardy succulents do just fine in direct sunlight, it can be too much for younglings and may lead to scorching. A window with partial shade or indirect sunlight (like a north-facing exposure) is best in the early stages.
5. Air Dry First
Succulents store water in their leaves, and if you take a cutting and pop it directly into the new soil, the leaves will release that water into the dirt, which can lead to rot. After taking your cuttings, let them sit on a paper towel in the open air until their base has dried out.
6. Water Starts Are Rare
Some plants, like celery or spider-plants, are as easy to propagate as setting cuttings in a glass of water, and BOOM, new roots. Because succulents are not plants that like a lot of water, this is not a sure way to propagate them and usually just leads to frustration and wasted cuttings.
7. Appreciate Those Callouses
A good indicator that your cutting is ready for soil is when the entire leaf tip has calloused over and got hard. This hardening helps protect the delicate cutting during the re-planting process.
8. How Does Your Soil Drain
Soil drainage is critical to a healthy and thriving succulent. While many plants like soil that holds water close to their roots, succulents would like the water to stop by for a few minutes and then be on its way. You can purchase specific soil for succulents and cacti at most gardening stores. However, if you have potting soil already, you can just mix in a handful of sand or perlite, and it will work wonderfully for your succulents.
9. Have You Considered Stem Cutting
Another easy propagation method is to take a stem cutting from a plant that has gone “leggy” Instead of taking leaves, just trim the top portion off a spindly succulent and then air-dry and plant like you would a leaf cutting.
10. What About Offsets
Plants like Hen&Chicks or Burros Tails are some of the easiest succulent varieties to start new growth from because they grow entire offshoots, not just new leaves. Most of these offsets already have new roots started so, all you need to do is gently separate them from their mother plant and give them their own pot.
11. Root Separation Works Too
Another way to propagate succulents without taking cuttings is to pull the entire plant out of the soil and then gently separate the root and split the plant bundle into two plants. This is a quick way to grow extra plants, but if not done carefully, you could end up losing both succulents.
12. Nutrients Are Always Helpful
Succulents are fairly low maintenance plants and don’t require much extra attention. That being said, some succulent or cactus food added to their diet once they have started growing will help establish a strong and healthy plant.
If At First, You Don’t Succeed
Plant propagation takes time and practice. Don’t be discouraged if your first attempt doesn’t take, try and isolate where the issue was and try again.