Gardening can be expensive when you start buying lots of plants and pots. What if you could double, triple, even quadruple the number of plants you currently have without spending a dime? If you have a little bit of time on your hands, along with a lot of patience, you can do just that. Let's dig into the propagation of cacti and succulents!
1. Propagation is the process of creating new plants from a variety of sources. This could be from seeds, offsets, stem cuttings, or leaf cutting. Cacti and succulents are very easy to propagate. You can take offsets, a stem cutting, or even root new plants from just one leaf!
2. Succulents that form rosettes are a great example of plants that can easily benefit from beheading. If you ever notice your plant with a gangly, long stem and a beautiful rosette on top, it could benefit from beheading, especially if it seems to be slow-growing or not producing as many leaves. Use a sharp, sterilized knife to cut the top part of the rosette off, leaving some of the stems on it. Let the cutting sit for a few days until it forms a callous on the stem's bottom. This is a very important step, or you risk rotted stems or leaves.
3. Once the cutting forms a callus, you can pot it in a container to form new roots and become a new plant. The remaining part of the stem can also form tiny plantlets at the top or down the stem, and you can eventually cut these off and form new plants in the same way.
4. Propagating from offsets is probably the easiest. Have you ever noticed when some succulents produce a small offset that looks like the mother plant? You can either cut it from the mother plant or carefully twist it off. The offsets can generally be potted right away.
5. Being able to propagate from just a tiny leaf might be surprising to the newbie gardener, but yes, you can! To try your hand at this form of propagation, take a leaf and twist or cut it from the stem. It is very important to try to get the entire base of the leaf stalk. You can place the leaves on top of a soil layer, where they will form a callus. This is where a shallow tray or saucer comes in handy, as it will give you room to do many at one time. It is always smart to do a bunch, as you may only have success rooting half of them.
6. In weeks to a few months, you should notice them calloused over and producing roots. If the roots are growing towards the air instead of the soil, you might just want to turn the roots to help them find the soil or plant them in their own pot. You can also try placing some of the leaves with the stem's base inserted shallowly into the soil. Place the trays in bright but indirect light so the leaves do not scorch.
7. Your new little plant cuttings will need to be treated a little more gently than typical hardy cacti and succulents. They will not tolerate bright, direct sun. When it comes to watering, you want first to wait until they have calloused and formed roots in some cases. Mist lightly in the beginning until roots appear, and then you can begin watering them more frequently. In general, they will need to be babied and watered a little more often in the beginning, but the soil should still dry between waterings. There can be a little bit of trial and error, depending on your home. A drier house because of air conditioning or radiators will mean you need to water your cuttings more frequently than if they are in an area with high humidity.
- Succulentopedia: Browse succulents by Scientific Name, Common Name, Genus, Family, USDA Hardiness Zone, Origin, or cacti by Genus