Succulent Plant Propagation E-Book - an excerpt

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One of my most popular of all time e-books is the one I wrote about propagating some of the most intriguing plants ever - succulents.  In the book (which is in digital format, so it's instantly available) you will learn about the many facets of growing more with detailed information.  Here's an excerpt of one of those facets;

Propagating Your Collection

Your collection of succulent plants will start innocently enough, with a gift plant from a friend, a small piece of one handed to you on a garden tour, or a leaf on the top of the soil in a purchased plant. You will quickly find that the more you know about these fascinating plants, the more kinds you want. Propagation of the leaves is so easy you can get many plants in a small area while they root and grow into tiny replicas of their parent. This is the slowest method.

A cutting, with a small piece of stem and some leaves is the faster way, and beheading a plant to re-root the nice top rosette of Echeveria or Graptopetalum the fastest way to get really nice specimens.

Happily Rooting SucculentsLots of healthy happy new plants made from Cuttings.

Seeds collected from the arching flower sprays can give you many new varieties – this is the method by which new types of Echeveria hybrids are formed.

You will use all of these methods as you gain in confidence. You will never get 100% success – even professional horticulturists rarely have perfect success. I've found I have great results by propagating my own plants as I have the most control over the health of the parent plants, however, I would never turn down a small piece of any succulent plant to try and propagate.

What you will need – pots, soil and tools

The Right Pots and Containers

Every gardener, indoors or out, seems to accumulate a selection of pots. Succulent plants having shallow roots require a shorter soil column in a lower pot or flat to enable the soil to completely dry as needed.

The deeper the soil the more risk that the lower levels will stay too damp and cause the fatal condition of root rot. Over watering is the number one cause of succulent plant death, so this is a very important point. Using shallower pots is a definite advantage when propagating succulents, but use what you have available. I routinely use 1020 open flats which only have a soil depth of 5cm (2”) or less, perfect for shallow root systems.

Best Soil

I use a bagged potting soil which has additional drainage materials in it. You can use a soilless mix customized for cacti or add more perlite and pumice to a regular houseplant mix. Avoid any soilless mix which has added fertilizer, or manure based soils and keep in mind that Echeveria don't enjoy lime in the soil. Other than that, good drainage is the mantra.

For larger numbers of propagation I use a 1020 open flat, filled to the top with the soil. Don't use any kind of broken pottery, gravel or other drainage material as this can actually prevent the water from draining properly as well as being a management nightmare when you dump the soil after the propagation cycle.

Other containers you can use are virtually anything that will hold soil, as long as there are drainage holes. I've used styrofoam egg cartons, milk cartons and so on, with a drain hole punched in the bottom, of course. These work well for a single use, then can be sent to the recycle bin.

Spray any containers you are re-using with a 10% bleach solution to kill any pathogens, or wash with dish detergent and hot water.

I don't re-use the soil from one cycle to the next – use the old soil in the garden compost pile or for larger containers to prevent any pathogens from accumulating.

Tools for successful propagating

A razor knife or sharp scalpel is perfect to slice cleanly through the stems when taking cuttings or removing a single leaf.

Beheading a whole rosette is easier with a sharp pair of bonsai scissors. Aim for a clean cut without crushing – it's not recommended to use anvil type pruners for this reason.

Cleaning your tools is important so as not to contaminate the plants you propagate. Although most succulents are resilient and pest resistant, an open wound left from propagating is an open invitation to pathogens. I use a small container of rubbing alcohol between cuts to sterilize the tools if I feel that this is necessary.

A sharp spade or shovel or a large serrated knife are perfect for the division of large hardy succulents such as Sedum 'Autumn Joy'

There's a lot more where that came from - the Succulent Plant Propagation E-Book.  Want your own copy?  Buy it here.