Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Succulent cuttings

Succulents are so popular right now and I think that might be because they are so easy to grow and hard to kill. They also look great which helps, but did you know it is easy get new plants from your existing plants?
succulent plant babies
I have a few succulents, some of which have been around for years. I'm not kidding - years! Last September I took some cuttings and now I'm finally getting round to showing you how easy it is. Seriously, you don't need green fingers (I think you call it green thumb in the US, is that right?) these plants want to grow, they really do, just give them a few things and they will do just fine.

First the Money Tree, also called Jade plants. I have dozens of these, we have them all over the place at work too, all descendants of a large plant my granddad had when we were little. You don't have to do much more than break a bit off and put it in compost, however there are a few tricks that will help give your baby money tree a good start.
taking cuttings from money trees
These plants can be grown in a low bush effect or you can let a tall stem grow more like a tree. I tend to let them just do what they want but that little one in the front is not looking too clever, it needs the top half breaking off which will make it grow more stems lower down and become more bushy. The bit you break off can be popped back into compost and will root to make another plant. Plants for free - what's not to like!

Ready? So just break a bit off one of the stems, maybe about 3 inches. You want to snap it off just below a line where leaves come out - this is where the roots will form.
Now pull off the bottom few sets of leaves, like the ones in the middle and on the right here:
Take a pot (ideally one with holes in the bottom) and pop some little stones or grit in the bottom - these plants do not like to get too wet, this will help with drainage. Nothing fancy though, these are just stones from the garden.
Fill the pot with compost, you can get special cactus compost but I just use any old regular stuff, and make a hole in the middle with your finger. You could use a pencil or dibber if you have one and your nails are nice.
Stick the cutting in the hole and gentle push the compost up round it so it can stand up straight. 
Give it a little drink of water and put it somewhere you won't forget it completely. You will need to put the pot inside a planter of some sort, or just in an old lid. Otherwise when you do give it a drink the water will pour out of the holes in the bottom! It will only need watering now and again.
I think the biggest mistake with succulents is making them too wet. They go rotten and once that happens there is no coming back.
Your baby money tree is not demanding but if it completely dries out (and I mean to a crisp) when it's roots are just beginning it might not make it. 
Just a splash now and again - maybe once a fortnight, more if you are somewhere really hot.

You can put several stems into the same pot, that would probably give you a more fuller, bushy look much more quickly.

Try to resist the temptation to pull it up and see if it has roots, they don't like that! You will know it's taken (that's a technical gardening term don't you know!) when it starts to grow new leaves. 
Bearing in mind it's now April, the ones I took last September look like this now: 
These little fellas need their compost topping up a bit, I'll do that in a minute.

Another succulent I have a kabillion of is Aloe, I think these are lace aloe but I'm not positive. What I am sure about is how easy they are to grow.
So, confession time, this is the sad state I had allowed a couple of them to get into.
Poor things, but look, all is not lost, they have babies round the bottom.
Tip the plant out of its pot,

then gentle pull on one of the baby plants until it comes away from the rest.

You just need to make sure a length of root comes with it. Don't panic if some root gets left behind, there just needs to be an inch or so, even this much is fine.
Remove any dead leaves then prepare the pot the same as before, stones or grit then compost. You will need to make a slightly larger hole in the compost as you have roots to fit in this time.
Taking cuttings from succulents
Cover the roots with a little more compost and press it down gently. You can put one on it's own or let it have company.
Again, just a splash of water to settle it's roots but DO NOT OVERWATER. Just give them a drink now and again. If the leaves start to shrivel then you might need to give it a splash a bit more often but these plants are designed for dry places. They like to be kept a bit on the dry side.
Here is that exact same pot 6 months later:
Lace aloe rooting babies
The best thing about taking cuttings is that you still keep the original plant. Those bigger aloes were perfectly ok, once I'd pulled off all the dead leaves and repotted them they spread out and made a full recovery, even had a few more babies!
A money tree plant can last 30 years plus and give you hundreds of offspring in that time. In fact they seem to like having the straggly ends of their stems removed, it makes them sprout more.

So to recap the main points that will help with success:
  • Drainage - the pot needs holes (or you must water VERY sparingly) and stones
  • The stem will sprout roots from the point the leaves were - make sure at least one of these points is in the compost, below the surface
  • If you are taking babies with roots already just make sure a small bit of root is still attached.
  • DO NOT OVERWATER (did I mention that?!) Once they have got going you can let them dry out between waterings - they seem to like that.
I wouldn't go putting these in a terrarium with a lid or anything similar, it's going to be all damp and humid in there.  
Succulent plants for free by taking cuttings
You do need a little bit of patience, cutting don't turn into giant plants overnight. However, they are almost free, you just need a little compost and you get the satisfaction of knowing you grew them yourself. Once you start it's hard to stop, your house will soon be full of the same kind of plant, you will start giving them away to friends, you have been warned!

update: After a few comments I just want to add these are house plants. I'm gardening outside as I am kind of messy when I do things like this but these plants live indoors. I'm in the UK so they wouldn't survive outside here, I guess if you live somewhere hot and dry you can try them outside - good luck!
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  1. This is so brilliant! I'm on the succulent train and was wondering what steps you take to grow more of them. This looks so easy and doable! Thanks for the tips :)

    1. I hope it helps, this is just what has worked for me over the years!

  2. Very informative. I love succulents, maybe I won't be so scared to get a few more (I have some in a terrarium that was a gift). Thanks for linking up!

  3. so helpful! i am so bummed that i lost my jade plant in a late freeze this year. good tips and instruction pictures, thanks!

    1. I never thought about having these outside at all, here in the Uk they are definitely house plants, I guess it depends where you live.
      The photos all show me gardening outside but that's only because of the mess, the plants here come straight back indoors once they are done.

  4. These are beautiful..I have seen them but did not know what they are called. Maybe I should get some for our garden! Thanks for sharing with us at Home Matters linky party!

    1. Very easy to grow and very unfussy. I do keep mine indoors normally though, I was only out in the garden to pot them up as it's a messy job. I'm in the UK and apart from mid summer I think they would be too cold outside here. I guess it depends where you live as to how well they would do alfresco!

  5. Ah I love succulents!! I have the same ones you have. I only lost one because I overwatered!!

    1. They are pretty tough Melissa which is why I like them so much. If I forget them for a few weeks they don't really mind.

  6. Wow, I love how easy this is! I've been noticing how popular succulents are, and I'd like to get some soon. This is such a smart way to save money. Thanks for joining us for Hump Day Happenings!

  7. Now I have to find someone with some succulents I can get some clippings from.

    Saw this on Hump Day Happenings.

  8. Well, look at that! I have just the plant to do this with. Thanks for linking up at the Weekend Blog Hop at My Flagstaff Home!



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