Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Gardening 101: Propogating Succulents

It all started with jade plants back in college.  Well, wait.  I was raised by the queen of gardening, so I think I can say a seed was planted (pun intended) at an early age.  
But is was in college that my obsession began with jade plants and other succulents and sedum.  One of my roommates was majoring in Horticulture and she actually got me a job in the greenhouse at Ohio State.  HUGE!  Chalk full of gorgeous plants.  And needless to say I learned a lot about propogating and nursing sick plants back to life. Every corner in our apartment had plants, and this obsession has stayed with me.
Another obsession of mine?  Blue glazed clay pots!  
For many years I filled my outdoor pots with different plants in the Summer.  But in recent years I discovered that succulents and sedum are actually the perfect plants for Atlanta Summers.   My pots look beautiful and need little care.  Win-win!
Even though Atlanta winters are not rough, it still gets down to freezing and a lot of succulents will not survive.  Needless to say I loose quite a few plants over the winter.  Instead of buying all new, I like to propogate over the winter to defray the cost of filling all of my pots.
Indoors, these easy to care for plants need bright light and water roughly once a month.  Overwatering is the main culprit for their death.  If they are not getting enough sun, you may start to notice them getting a little leggy reaching for more.  The leaves stretch furthur apart, and this is a good time to propogate them. (see tallest stems) 
The plant above is called Sedum Rubrotinctum, or common name Jelly Bean Sedum.  It is extremely easy to propogate.   But the following process wiill work for any kind of succulent.
Many of my plants started from cuttings of California leaves and cuttings that I brought home on an airplane and propogated and rooted.  Want to learn how to do it yourself?  Here we go.

1.  Carefully take leaves off the stem by moving side to side until they snap off.  If the leaf tears, you will not be able to root it. 
2.  Next you wait!  The step is very important.  The ends need to dry out and callus over or they will absorb too much water once put on the soil and will rot.  This drying process takes at least a couple weeks.  You will start to see the little roots emerge and this is your signal they are ready.

3. Set succulents on top of soil in a well draining pot (ie: it has a hole)  I use a soil mix called Cactus & Succulent Mix.  I actually do not water until they start to form the little babies.
4.  Add water sparingly.  When your plants look like this they are ready to be watered.  I usually give the soil a good soak about once a week or when the soil is totally dry. Set pot in a window with bright indirect sunlight and watch each one grow.  Plants can be transferred to individual pots.  I am short of pots at the moment, so I am letting a little forrest grow until they are a bit bigger and I can just transfer them outside to my front steps.
Good luck and have fun!

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