This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

March 29, 2015

How to plant succulents from cuttings

In addition to being beautiful and varied plants that do well using very little water, succulents have the advantage of being easy to transplant from cuttings, and pups.

In the last year or two I've been getting a lot of cuttings from a friends of mine. His plants are doing so well that really all he is giving me is the trimmings. And that's because succulents do so well that they send off offshoots, which I call pups. It's kind'a like bulbs multiplying, except that it happens above ground. So, instead of throwing the trimmed plant material into the dumpster, my friend puts it in bags and brings it over here. I'm experimenting mostly, and while I have had mostly failure doing this, the successes have been spectacular. This is what I have learned:

• Prepare the planting area with free-draining soil. Here in Arizona I like to say that my plants aren't really planted in the ground, they're planted in holes dug in Arizona and filled with potting soil.

• Don't worry too much about roots. If your cuttings have roots, fine, but even if they don't, if they like their new home, they will grow some. In the case of the Haworthias pictured, I just wandered around the garden and stuck them in in random places. Most failed, but this clump has been formed by a few pups rooting, and then producing their own offshoots (pups).

• Give them water to start with. Be sure they're in free-draining soil, and water them while they are forming roots. Of course, that's here in the desert. If you live somewhere that isn't so hot and dry, you can just put them in the ground and give them time to root. You can give them a little drink right after you plant them, but if you give them too much water in a cooler climate, like San Francisco, they will rot.

Once your succulents have rooted in your garden, they will grow and produce offshoots. In a season or two an empty area will be overflowing with plants, and you will need to do some trimming. Trim off the pups, put them in a bag, and give them to a friend.

By the way, succulents look great next to rocks, so I am always on the lookout for more natural-looking rocks. Succulents are fragile and tiny plants, and the rocks help keep people from accidentally kicking them (which I've made the mistake of doing myself!). The haworthia pictured here are only a couple of inches tall, so they have to be towards the front of the garden so they can be seen, but they have to have some curbing, or rocks, to protect them.
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