Propagating Succulents

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On last week’s program we featured a stunning, succulent ball. You may have thought you’d like to make one yourself, but decided the succulents were too expensive to buy. The good news is that succulents are very quick and easy to propagate, and you can save a lot of money by growing your own.

New echeverias from old

Don demonstrated how to propagate echeverias (Echeveria secunda var. glauca) from leaf and stem cuttings. First he selected an echeveria stem with a rosette of leaves to use as cutting material. The leaves were removed from the stem with thumb and forefinger, making sure to take the leaf base as well. Both the leaves and stem were set aside for about a week, so that they would dry out. Don used the echeveria stem to prepare cuttings about 10cm (4″) long. (Tip: when preparing stem cuttings, make a straight cut at the base and a sloping cut at the top. This will ensure you don’t plant the cuttings upside down.)

The leaves and stems were then gently inserted into a shallow tray filled with moist, free-draining propagation mix – we used 50:50 potting mix and washed river sand. (Tip: the cuttings should not be pushed too far into the mix; just far enough so that they stand up.) The tray of cuttings was put in a dry, warm place. It was kept damp but not overwatered. It takes approximately 6 weeks for roots and new leaves to form. When the new plantlets are big enough, they can be potted up, planted in the garden, or used for making fabulous succulent balls!

Revamping old plants

Don also revamped an old pot of succulents (Echeveria imbricata) that was looking tired and scruffy, using the method described above for cuttings. The echeveria stems were cut off just above soil level, and old, untidy leaves were removed from the base of the rosettes. The echeverias were put aside to dry for about a week, then replanted in a free-draining potting mix suitable for succulents.

Further information

Echeverias are available at nurseries. They are priced at around $2-$5 for 75mm (3″) pots, so propagating your own plants is very cost effective!