Thursday, 14 April 2016

Propagating Succulents (part one)

It seems as though every time I go on Instagram or read blogs these days there are beautiful photos of succulents and plants everywhere. Don't get me wrong, I have my fair share of succulents taking up every inch of my windowsills. But I'm greedy, and I want more. Specifically, I want the teeny baby succulents that look so cute together. And I know that the best way to get them is to propagate some of my 'grown up' plants, but I kept putting it off because, honestly, I was a bit scared. I can watch the most gory horror films without batting an eyelid but faced with the idea of plucking leaves off my plant babies and I'm just like NOPE.

Well, this is the year of facing up to my fears and just getting stuff done. So today, after weeks of reading a zillion articles on how best to propagate healthy succulents, I finally took the plunge. If you're unsure what propagating is, it's basically taking parts off of your current succulents and cacti, allowing them to grow new roots and leaves, until they basically grow as a new baby plant which you can repot! Pretty awesome huh?

 I decided to only propagate my plants that were getting leggy (which is where they have grown a long stem with spaced out leaves) or that had lots of pups growing off them. Any which didn't fit in either of these categories I just left as they were for now, but I may try and propagate them if my current ones turn out well!

My leggy plants (which I had about five of) I cut the long stalk off leaving a short stump in the soil. I'm keeping the stump too to see if it sprouts and grows because apparently it should! Then I removed the spaced out leaves from the stalk - to do this I gently wiggled and twisted them until they sort of popped off. You basically want to remove the whole leaf cleanly, not snapping it or leaving any part of the leaf attached to the stalk. Then I placed the leaves in rows on a tray covered in a layer of cacti soil (which you can see in the photos above.) Apparently there are trays designed specifically for this, but I just used some old metal shallow baking trays which work well. They will only be getting a very light spray of water, so drainage isn't an issue.

Once I removed the spaced out leaves I was left with a very long stalk with a little rosette at the end. I cut off this rosette leaving about an inch of stalk attached, and placed this with the leaves, making sure to keep the cut end of the stalk facing away from the soil. This is to allow it to callous and harden properly.

The leaves and rosettes need to be left to callous and harden at the cut point for a few days before you give them any water. If you water them now you risk them not growing any roots. Every site I looked at says not to water them with a watering can, but rather to use a spray bottle to lightly dampen them and the soil every 3-4 days or so (some say slightly more often, some say slightly less often, but I'm going with the average of 3-4 days!) So Monday I shall give them their first drink and see how they get on! All my little babies are near the sunniest windows in the house on their trays - there are lots of warnings about not letting them get too much sun as they can burn, but I think this would only really be an issue in the UK during the summer, but I will be keeping a close eye on them.

I'm so excited to see how they turn out - I am notorious for killing plants, but most of my succulents are doing pretty well (let's ignore the ten or so I've had to chuck out because they died a horrible death.) Fingers crossed these little guys do their thing and I can fulfill my dreams of growing a succulent army. I'll update you in a few weeks (which is how long before these should start sprouting roots and new growth) with how they're getting on. In the meantime if anyone has any tips or tricks they'd like to share then please do!

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