Building a succulent collection with free cuttings
Plants are gifts of nature, asking for little and giving a lot. There’s no reason for anyone to say they’re too poor to garden. With succulents, you plug into a limitless source of free and easy plants, indoors or out.
Succulents make some of the best indoor dish gardens. Many are small and exquisite, growing like graphic jewels in bonsai pots or other decorative containers. They don’t need much soil and ask for very little water in the wet season. Best of all, if you practice a bit of simple propagation, they can be increased for free. Plant propagation is a lesson in life force.
Two Ways to Propagate Succulents
Succulents are beautiful and unique, so your first one is sure to make you want more. The good news is that they are easy to propagate. Here are two simple methods.
Nearly all succulents produce offsets which grow around the parent plant. To propagate using this method, carefully remove an offset. It’s not hard to remove the offset. You can remove it from the parent plant with your fingers or with a thin digging tool. Make sure to keep the offset’s roots, and then plant in its own container.
Cut and Replant
Though it may not look feasible from a succulent’s quirky looks, cuttings are an option. Here’s how to cut and plant a succulent.
*Take a cutting with a clean cut.
*Let the cutting stand in dry air for 24 hours or until a dry callus forms on the end.
*Push the cutting into a pot of clean, coarse sand with extreme drainage. Set the pot in the shade, and keep it moist until roots form.
*Transplant the cutting into a pot that contains cactus soil or a 50/50 mix of regular potting soil and sharp sand.
Easy steps to succulent success
Succulents are an infatuating group of plants. They might seem daunting and hard to keep, but in fact, succulents are plants anyone can grow.
▶ Understand what they need. Succulents, like Queen Victoria agave (Agave victoriae-reginae), come from arid environments in Africa and the Americas. These areas get irregular and sparse amounts of rainfall, so the plants evolved to cope with that situation. Remember this whenever you’re tempted to give them a drink every other hot season evening—they probably don’t want it.
▶ Give them the right soil. Plant succulents in a well-draining potting mix, and avoid packing them in too firmly; their roots won’t grow well in compacted soil. Add a slow-release fertilizer, per product instructions.
▶ Water sparingly. This is the trickiest step to success. You want your succulents’ soil to be slightly moist but not damp or bone dry. They’ll perish in either extreme.
It is remarkable how well succulents survive under trying circumstances. They will teach you a lot about what they want in the garden, too.
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