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Growing my own succulents

April 11, 2015

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I have recently become obsessed with growing my own succulents. Watching new plants spring from their parent plant and then transplanting them to new pots has been a lot of fun. I received a few plants last summer and those have easily expanded to a large succulent garden in my window. In the above picture are two parent plants with baby plants in the pot below. I have done some reading online to learn how best to care for then and help them propagate. As a potter I get to enjoy making the pots my plants grow in. I loved choosing glaze colors that would compliment the colors of the plants. In this blog post I will give tips on how to care for your succulents and the types of succulents I am growing. In the next post I will show you how I made the ruffly little pots.

A Few Types of Succulents

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First I will tell you about the types of plants I have and how they propagate. Then I will explain how to care for them. My plants did not come with labels but a search over the internet was helpful in discovering which types of succulents I had. The picture above is a type of Sempervivum which are also called “Chicks and Hens.” They are so called because new plants (chicks) grow out from the base of the parent plant (hen). Once big enough you gently pull or cut them off making sure to keep the end of the chick from tearing. They are pretty easy to just pop off where it connects to the hen. Once detached leave the chick out to callous or dry at the bottom. This is important because if you put the chick straight into soil it will absorb too much water and rot. After you let it callous for a few days put in appropriate soil (read below) and water. Soon it will grow its own roots! The picture above shows the hen to the far right, and chick in the middle, and to the far left the old stump I cut the hen off of. After the hen gave me several chicks it was getting very “leggy.” So I chopped it off with scissors below the leaves and left it out to callous. The stump is now growing new plants in pretty much all the old leaf growth spots and the hen has established a great new root system! Succulents are prolific!

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This green succulent is a type of Sedum nussbaumerianum. It propagates several ways. This succulent readily grows a new plant from cuttings. In the first picture just above, the pot to the right shows a cutting from a stem growing happily. Just use scissors to cut off one of the branches and leave out to callous. Once the end is dried out plant and water. In the second picture above you can see how they grow from a spot where I pulled off a leaf. Once it grows long enough I will cut if off to callous and grow into a separate plant. Another way is to gently pull off a leaf which will grow a new plant off the end. Growing plants from the leaf requires different care than the parent plants. After pulling off the leaves, leave out to callous. If the leaves are torn part way or not pulled off completely in tact they will not grow a new plant. Once they are dried out place the end in quick drying soil (described below) and wait for roots to grow. Once roots start growing, use a spray bottle to water every day and saturate the soil. I didn’t water my first leaves every day and some of their roots dried out. They are also growing much faster with regular watering. The leaf picture above has leaves from several different plants. The leaves of this plant are the dark green ones.

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I am not completely sure but I think this light blue succulent is also a sedum nussbaumerianum. The leaves appear to grow in a similar pattern to the dark green sedum nussbaumerianum and they propagate very similarly. The main difference I have found is that this plant doesn’t grow branches out from the stem like the dark green above does. This plant shows what they look like once they start getting “leggy.” “Leggy” describing how the leaves start to spread out and fall off at the bottom leaving the top fuller. An easy way to improve the look of the plant it to cut off the top and replant. That is what I have done in the first picture. When you cut off the top save the lower leaves to grow new plants, dry out and repot the top. The old stem will grow a new plant. You can see a new plant growing from a stump in the the first picture. You can see in the second picture the light blue/pink leaves growing new plants.

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The plant on the left of the above picture is an Aeonium haworthia ‘Kiwi.’ This is my favorite plant. I love the flower like arrangement of the leaves and in the summer with more sun the dark green leaves turn a beautiful yellow with pink around the edges of the leaves. New plants will not grow from leaf cuttings, but branch out from just above where the leaf connects to the stem. Leaves will just wither when pulled off. You can see a new plant growing beneath some leaves in the second picture. This plant also wants well drying potting soil, but does like  a little more water than other succulents.

How to Care for Your Plants

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The keys for keeping succulents alive are soil, water, and light. All my succulent plants have been potted with a mixture of fast drying potting soil, sand and perlite with a drainage whole. I found everything I needed to mix my own soil from Home Depot. I was surprised how inexpensive the sand and perlite was. You can see the bags I bought in the picture above. At Home Depot you can also buy a role of window screening to cover the drainage whole of your pot. This will help the water drain without your soil mixture falling out. See the picture below.

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Succulents like to be throughly watered, but they do not like sitting in water because too much water causes rot in the roots and leaves. Let your soil dry out between waterings. Press your finger in the soil to check if the soil is dry. Depending on the temperature and humidity in your home you will water every 2-3 days. Water with room temperature water as cold water will shock the roots.

Succulents also like warmer temperatures and sunlight. They will grow well in strong indirect sunlight or direct sunlight for part of the day. If they get too much intense, direct light they will sunburn. They will be happy on a well lit, warm window sill. They can also be happy outside. They don’t like freezing temperatures. They will do ok outside in the heat of summer, but if too hot will become dormant until the weather cools off. I hope you found this informative and can now go grow your own plants! Below are links to some websites I found helpful.

One Comment
  1. amusez798387 permalink

    Wonderful information, Just what I was looking for. Also am looking for large succulents for a friend. Mine are over a foot tall.

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