By: Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden
Succulent growers often becomeattached to their plants in an extreme way. The unusual, sometimes unique formsand colors intrigue some of us to begin collections. If you’re fairly new togrowing succulent plants and wish to expand their numbers, consider succulentpups. What are succulent pups, you may ask? Read on to learn more.
How to Identify Pups on Succulents
There are many cute little namesfor succulents,especially new ones that grow on adult plants. We might call them babies andrefer to the adult as the mom. Botanically, they’re referred to as offsets, asthey grow from the mature plant. They are also called pups. This is just anothername used to identify these young offsets.
Succulent offset info says “an offset is a small, virtually complete daughter plant that has been naturally and asexually produced on the mother plant. They are clones, meaning that they are genetically identical to the mother plant.” Since they are clones of the parent, this is one of the easiest ways to grow more succulents.
Tiny pups eventually grow from the healthy, properly positioned adult plant. Some types send out stems with pups growing on the ends. Others grow clumps on the sides of the plants, appearing to double, leading you to ask, “is my succulent growing pups?” Sometimes offsets grow underneath the plant and you might not notice them until they’ve grown. After a while, you’ll learn how to identify pups on succulents.
What to Do with Succulent Pups
There are options when you’re wondering what to do with succulent pups. You may allow them to continue to grow on the mother if there is enough room, or you may remove and replant them individually. Let them get the size of a quarter before removing though.
If you want to leave them attachedand they’re in a crowded pot, repot the whole clump. Sources say pups growingin a crowded spot or container can morph into unusual appearing plants.Sometimes, the pups may even cascade over the sides of the pot.
Remove pups with a precise cut using sharp, clean pruners or scissors. Normally, I would recommend using a light touch, but after watching videos from the experts, that does not seem necessary– just another indication of how tough succulent plants can be.
You may let the cut end callous fora few days or dip in cinnamonand plant immediately. Repot the pups into dry succulent mix and water when thebaby plant looks thirsty.
This article was last updated on
Read more about General Cactus Care
A Beginner's Guide to Growing Succulents
Succulents are one of the most popular plant groups in contemporary gardens, and it’s not hard to see why. They’re easy to grow, tough, drought tolerant and child’s play to propagate. And succulents are the perfect plant for containers, courtyards and roof gardens as they take intense sunlight and wind exposure in their stride.
But like all plants, they still need the right growing conditions and care to put on their best performance. Pay a little attention to their needs and the succulents in your garden will reward you with sculptural style and year-round performance. Here are a few rules of green thumb to get you started.
Protect them from cold
Although some succulents will cope with cold temperatures if their soil and leaves are kept dry, most do best if they’re sheltered from frost. Planting against a north-facing wall is a good option in cooler regions. If in containers, move succulents under the eaves of the house, a tree or onto the verandah if frosts are likely in your area. Stonecrops (Sedum) and houseleeks (Sempervivum) are some of the least frost-tender succulents while some yucca, Echeveria and Haworthia will tolerate light frosts.
Keep out of the rain
Prolonged exposure to rain during cold winter months is anathema to most succulents. If their leaves are allowed to take up too much moisture, succulents become more vulnerable to frost damage. And the leaves of some low-growing species such as echeveria are liable to rot in very rainy weather.
Choose a planting spot under the eaves or close to a wall for your succulents, or erect a temporary cover for winter protection. Super porous soil mixes will also help succulents survive in rainy regions.
Get the soil right
Very free-draining, aerated soil is key to growing succulents well, both in the ground and in containers. If your soil is heavy clay you are better off growing succulents in pots.
There are a variety of commercial potting mixes for succulents available now, or you can make your own by mixing a light potting mix with coarse sand, crushed pumice, gravel or perlite (4 parts potting mix to one of sand etc). A gravel mulch will also help prevent rotting in the stem of the plant. You can plant succulents into garden beds, provided the soil is well drained and doesn’t become too cold during winter.
BONUS TIP: Adding sand or gravel to the soil will help drainage, and mounding plants above soil level is also a good idea. Don’t forget that north-facing, sloping sites are ideal for succulents too.
Succulents are xerophytes, which means they have adapted naturally to very little rainfall by storing water in their stems and leaves. However, they still do need to be watered, especially if they are growing in pots. Check the soil is reasonably dry before watering, as waterlogged soil is fatal to succulents. Soak well as you would other plants, but do it less often and always check for dryness beforehand.
BONUS TIP: If the leaves look wrinkled it’s likely your succulent is too dry.
Some gardeners never feed succulents, but the occasional feed can improve their growth and looks considerably. With potted succulents particularly, rain will leach out the nutrients in container mixes and these need to be replaced.
Use a cacti and succulent fertiliser – or a quarter to half of the recommended amount of an all-purpose fertiliser – 3-4 times a year, but not during your succulent’s winter dormancy.
Monitor light levels
Bright light is essential for succulents to maintain a good shape indoors or out. If conditions are too shaded, they can become stretched with lanky growth. But not all succulents do well in hot sunny conditions. Some do better if they receive only a few hours of morning sun in high summer, particularly in warmer areas.
Letting them become too hot and parched can have a detrimental effect on leaf colour and shape. In hot north-facing gardens, it’s a good idea to protect succulents with shade cloth or, if planted in pots, moving them under a tree.
Keep an eye out for pests
Succulents may be tough but they are not immune to pests. If soil conditions are good and they are well fed and watered, this should not happen too often.
Aphids can be a problem with flowers and new growth, while mealy bugs will often set up shop in between leaves. In rainy weather, powdery mildew can also attack succulents, and in very warm weather ants like to invade potted plants. Although these pests and diseases may not kill your succulents, infestations need to be controlled as you would with any plant, to ensure their health and good performance. Try organic sprays such as neem oil on aphids and mealy bugs.
Plant in containers
Succulents are ideal container specimens, many happy to grow in the same pot for years without needing to be repotted. Some succulent species will tolerate less light than others, so if you choose the right species you can grow succulents outside and indoors in pots. Getting the potting mix right (see above) is crucial, and you need to
check drainage holes regularly to avoid wet soil rotting plants.
Do you grow succulents? Share your top tips with us in the Comments below.
It's important to note that leaf propagation does not work with ALL succulents. Mature, bulbous leaves do best like the ones shown here.
If you're unsure about whether or not you can propagate via leaves or cuttings, I would try to identify the plant you're working with. Wouldn't want to have your efforts be for nothing!
The remove leaves the easiest way, simply pinch the leaf between your fingers and rotate it back and forth next to the stem. The leaf should detach quickly without damage.
The most important part about removing the leaves is to make sure the stem end of the leaf is completely intact. If this part is damaged, the leaf will not be able to callous over properly, allowing water in that will rot the leaf. If the leaf is damaged slightly at the opposite end, that's okay!
There are different ways to propagate succulents. The most widely known is by taking a cutting. This method is ideal for mature succulents that have grown too tall and become leggy. Taking a good cutting is essential for setting your new succulent up for success. "To take a stem cutting, you'll always want to use a sharp, clean blade," advises Kremblas. "A clean cut gives your cutting the best chance at survival, minimizing the chance of fungus or disease."
Take your cutting from stems that are fresh and actively growing. If you see a stem sprouting aerial roots—wispy, delicate roots shooting off the side of the stem—take your cutting here. This is a sign that this portion of the plant is ready to set out on its own. After taking your cutting, allow it to callus for three to five days before placing it in soil this will further discourage fungus. Once the callus has formed, place your cutting in a shallow container filled with a succulent potting mix bury the calloused end slightly in the soil without fully submerging. Whether indoors or out, the area should be warm and receive sun, but not intense light.
Resist the urge to over-water your cuttings. Even mature succulents have delicate, water-shy roots, and oversaturating can easily kill fragile propagations. Instead, use a spray bottle to lightly mist the cutting. "Rather than watering the soil directly, it's best to just spray the ends of the cutting where the root growth is expected," says Kremblas. "Avoid saturating the soil to prevent them from rotting before rooting happens." Once roots have developed, plant your new succulent in the garden or a pot.
Natural rooting hormones
There are natural products you can use that can help with the process of rooting your succulent plants. Some of these products are common household items you may have in your shelf.
Cinnamon powder–I first heard about cinnamon powder being used by growers as a rooting agent for succulent cuttings from a Succulent Group I belong in. Apparently it is commonly used as a rooting agent. Just dip the cuttings in cinnamon powder or sprinkle cinnamon onto the cuttings or the soil. Cinnamon also acts as a wound repairer and a fungicide. It can help keep the cuttings free from diseases while rooting and the soil free from fungal growth.
Honey–Known for its antifungal and antibacterial properties, it makes sense that honey is also used as a natural rooting agent. There are a few recipes out there for honey as a rooting agent.
Here’s an easy recipe to try:
1 tablespoon honey (pure or raw honey is recommended)
Boil 2 cups of water and remove from heat. Mix the honey in the water. Let it cool. Store the mixture in an airtight jar or container. Keep away from light. To use, dip the cuttings in the solution. The mixture can be stored and will last for about two weeks.
Apple Cider Vinegar–You can try using apple cider vinegar to help speed up the process of rooting your succulent cuttings. Apple cider vinegar is actually commonly used in organic gardening as a weed killer. You only need to use a little apple cider vinegar, too much may prevent rooting.
Here’s an easy recipe to try:
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Mix the apple cider vinegar and water. To use as a rooting hormone, dip the cuttings into the solution.
I have plenty of propagation success stories. Please click on “Easiest Way to Propagate Succulents” and “What is Succulent Propagation?” to read some of my propagation success stories.
Pin this to save for later or share with others now!