April 15, 2013
Rooting Cut Succulents
Succulents are terrific plants that are quite popular with plant enthusiasts. Succulents are plants that are more than normally thickened and fleshy, for the purpose of retaining water in arid climates or soil conditions. They are able to store water in various structures, such as leaves and stems. Because of their unique and interesting colors and structures, succulents are also very popular in the flower trade. Just before Easter, I made a trip to the New York City flower district to purchase flowers for my home, and I bought some beautiful cut succulents, as well. Another great thing about succulents is that they root very easily, so rather than toss these cut plants along with the faded flowers, I asked Ryan, my gardener, to root them up for potted plants. Here's how it's done.
1 Echeverias are some of the most attractive of all succulents and they are highly valued by plant enthusiasts for their gorgeous colors and beautiful rosette shapes.
2 Those echiveria were used as attractive table decorations at a recent business breakfast.
3 These are beautiful aeonium succulents. Set upon flat galvanized pans, these were stunning as part of my Easter decor.
4 A photo of an aeonium at Easter
5 For succulents and cacti, Ryan likes to use a mix of equal parts sand,
6 Perlite - Perlite provides aeration and drainage, yet retains and holds substantial amounts of water that it releases when needed.
7 And vermiculite - Vermiculite has the excellent property of improving soil aeration while retaining the moisture and nutrients necessary to feed roots, cuttings, and seeds for faster growth. Like perlite, vermiculite helps promote faster root growth, and gives quick anchorage to young roots.
8 Ryan gave it all a good mixing to combine the ingredients well.
9 And then a good watering
10 Followed by another mixing
11 Ryan lined the bottom of three seed flats with paper toweling. This keeps the succulent mix contained and when damp, the paper toweling helps to retain moisture.
12 He filled the flats with the succulent mix.
13 He then tamped down the surface.
14 For the flower trade, succulents like these are cut, leaving very little stem.
15 To root them properly, you must remove several of the bottom leaves.
16 You need to expose about 1/2-inch of the stem.
17 You must also remove anything that looks like a flower. The plant needs to put all its energy into forming roots and growing a flower will drain that energy.
18 Just pull the flower right off.
19 These succulents are all set for the next step.
20 Gently push the stem end of each plant into the growing medium.
21 Give the plants plenty of room.
22 Ryan did the same for the aeoniums.
23 The individual leaves can also be rooted in a similar fashion.
24 Choose leaves that are firm, showing no signs of limpness. Gently push the cut end into the mix and tamp around it to firm up the soil.
25 If all of these leaves root and become succulent plants, there will be plenty to use in mixed urns during the summer months.
26 It's very satisfying to know that I got to enjoy these plants as cut "flowers" and hopefully, they'll provide much more joy as potted plants.
27 So beautiful!
28 Another view
29 Give the plants a watering and be sure to keep the soil moist. Watch for new growth to appear four to six weeks after planting, signaling that the plant has established roots, at which point, you can divide the plants into separate pots.