Succulent Propagation Technique

I have a lot of succulents and I’m always happy to share, but I haven’t always been as successful as I would like when it comes to propagating new plants. Succulents are pretty easy to root but it helps to have a little info to work from.

I was discussing this with a friend who is very knowledgeable about succulents and she gave me a photo-copied sheet of different cutting points on a succulent stem. I wish I could give attribution to this great guideline to follow for cutting succulents for propagation but I was unsuccessful in finding the source.  Anyway, I realize now that I have been cutting too long a stem and will change my propagation technique to get better results.  Here’s a picture with information below it that I have created FYI.

A – Cutting this high on the stem is known as “pinching out.” The reason to pinch this high on the plant stem is to create growth for multiple cuttings or have the plants develop into a multi-headed plant. Cutting this high will force side stems to grow that will be viable cuttings themselves once they’ve grown out. The top part that is cut off is not a viable cutting and will not root so just throw it away.

B – Cutting here is optimal for creating a new plant from the top part and forcing new shoots to grow off the stem. This method works best if a few leaves are left on the stem, allowing it to recover more efficiently, producing the most new stems.

C – Cutting at this mark is officially called deadheading. A cut made here will result in a plant that will root easily. The stem most likely won’t develop any shoots and can slowly wither down.

D – Cutting lower on the stem creates a longer stem, but takes much longer to establish roots. The lower stem might produce a few shoots, but can also wither down.

E – Cutting further down the stem is not recommended because the head will have to work hard to get established and the lower stem is likely to die.

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Eau de Stapelia

I am proud to report that I have not one, not two, but three different stapelia succulents in my garden are blooming at the same time. I wish I could tell you my secret to making this happen, but I don’t have a clue.

The little flower below is no bigger than a dime. Teeny-tiny with a little fuzz.

This one is one of my favorites. How can you not love the perfection of nature’s work?! The flower is about two inches across and has a thick, fleshiness to it, but no fuzz.  These two flowers must be slightly different varieties because their colors are a bit different from each other, the bottom one being slightly greener.

This one is Stapelia gigantea, and is the biggest of the blooms, 10 inches across. It smells, but not too much. I think I like the flower bud before it opened better than the flower. It looks like a bell. The buds look like they are ready to pop for two weeks. It is very satisfying to see multiple buds developing on the plant.

Stapelia succulents can be identified by the four-sided fleshy leaves. My plants’ stems range from pencil width in the smallest one to over an inch on the biggest plant.

I grow stapelias in bright light but not much direct sun unless in the morning or late afternoon. I water the plants regularly, letting them dry out between waterings, but not to the point of stress. Other than than, no special treatment.

I’m assuming that the weather stars aligned perfectly to produce all the blooms this year, or maybe I lucked out and found each plant’s happy place. Either way, it has been satisfying to see the range of interesting flowers.

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