Hey people! It seems like ages since I did a really lifestyle-y post. I got super wrapped up in the Japan posts, and then in the project launch, but I have been really keen to make this post ever since I got a bunch of clippings from my mum. As you might have noticed from my Instagram and my 'Why You Should Keep Plants' post, I have really gotten into plants, particularly succulents. They featured heavily in my new illustration collection.
One of the most exciting things about succulents (and cacti) is that they reproduce asexually. They don't rely on the wind or bees or wild animals to create new little baby plants. Different plants do it in different ways: some extend little tendrils that grow new babies on them, some drop their leaves which grow into new babies, some grow babies on their leaves and let them fall to the ground - the possibilities are endless. I find them to be one of those 'OMG, NATURE!' moments in life - the fact that there is some kind of chemical that tells them to do that absolutely delights me.
Anyway, I recently learnt how to propagate succulents - that is, making new babies from your existing succulents - and I thought I would impart the knowledge to the rest of you! I recently used this method to salvage an echeveria which had stretched out and was looking all gangly, so I'm using it as an example.
First remove the part to be propagated. If it is a little succulent, you will probably need to gently twist off a few leaves. They should 'pop' off and not tear. The same method works for cacti, but instead you twist off the tiny cacti growing on it. If you have a 'tendril' plant, you will need to cut off a section of the 'vine' part which has begun to sprout little roots. With larger cacti, you may find that near the bottom of the plant you have baby versions of the original plant, which you can gently pull and twist off in one go.
Next, you will need to leave your baby succulents/leaves to 'callous' over. This means the 'wound' where you removed it from the original plant needs a chance to dry up. Leave it somewhere safe and dry (not on soil) for a week or so, until you can see that the 'wound' has dried up. If you skip this step, it's likely that your leaves will just mould instead. However, you can skip this step with 'tendril' pieces that have existing roots, and baby cacti.
After a week or so of callousing over, you can now place your cuttings onto damp soil. For my echeveria leaves, I tucked the 'wound' end slightly into the soil, to help the process along. They will need to sit on the soil for several weeks, watering every few days (do not soak the soil, just ensure it is slightly damp.) Eventually, your little leaves and baby succulents will start to sprout roots. Then, they will begin to sprout tiny baby plants, too! Once the original leaf has withered and the baby plant is a size where it looks like an actual plant, you can place them in their very own pots to start their life as a new plant!
With my Echeveria, I was trying to save it from stretching out, so I cut the top of the plant off, that still resembled a proper succulent 'shape' and hadn't stretched out, and treated it the same way I would a baby cutting. I let it dry out, then popped it into a new pot to start a new life in a sunnier spot. However, the best part is, the leaves, the rose and the stalk that remains in the pot can be saved! I simply continued to water my little stalk, and now even more babies are sprouting. I have so many I'm going to have to distribute them amongst my friends!
I hope this tutorial was helpful and enables you to create millions of free new succulents from your existing plant babies, or inspires you to go out and get a few of your own the kick start the habit! Share your best succulent-related tips with us in the comments. <3