Succulents are a favorite group of plants for many indoor gardeners. They can grow slowly, require minimum care, and not outgrow their locations rapidly. Succulents are simple plants. They require direct sun, well-draining soil, and rarely need to be fertilized. Sandy soils are best. It is possible to purchase cactus mixes that are sandy with a bit of gravel. A great deal of organic matter is not necessary. Watering is done occasionally. When you think of these plants' origin, a hot, dry climate with lean soils and not a great deal of rainfall give you the framework of what they expect.
Succulents can be propagated in several ways. It is unusual for them to bloom and then produce viable seeds. The usual method is called vegetative propagation. It is essentially creating a clone from the original plant.
Division or Separation
Many succulents multiply themselves through division, but some will have small plants appear along the leaf edges. When the plantlets are big enough to handle easily, they can be removed.
With the division of other succulents, little plants surround the parent plant when it is mature. Eventually, more little plants surround the larger surrounding plants, and the container is filled. The plant and soil can be taken from the pot, and the small plants gently removed. Water the plant well before taking it out of the container, so more soil will adhere to the roots. There need to root on the small plants for them to grow. If they are without roots, it may take a long for roots to form. Pot the little ones in containers. If the small plants are without roots or broke off, see the information below on callusing.
Cuttings and Callusing
A few succulents can be propagated by taking cuttings off the original plant. Sometimes it is because the plant has been damaged or a misplaced elbow and an unceremonious freefall to the floor. Unfortunately, the broken part will not repair and grow again, but the broken segment can generate another plant. The important part is that the broken piece cannot be potted up immediately. It needs a period to dry or "callus."
If the freshly cut piece comes in contact with damp soil, it will rot. Let the cuttings sit for a few days or longer for big pieces. After some time, the damp, broken area forms a tough skin or callus over the tissue. The callused plant part can be placed in slightly damp soil. Embed the piece very shallowly. If it is placed too deeply, it will not grow. It may be necessary to support the small plant by having it lean on a craft stick or tongue depressor or against the container's side. It often takes many months for succulents to form roots. Do not place small plants on a cold window sill or close to a cold window because it will take even longer to grow roots. If a full-grown leaf or branch is broken off a succulent like Haworthia or Euphorbia after callusing, it could grow roots. However, if the leaf is broken off Aloe vera, it will not.
There are enough differences in the world of succulents that one size or one rule does not fit all. Smart gardeners are discovering this continually when learning about plants. Invite a succulent home. They make mannerly and attractive houseguests.
- Succupedia: Browse succulents by Scientific Name, Common Name, Genus, Family, USDA Hardiness Zone, Origin, or cacti by Genus