Outdoor Classroom: multiplying succulents

Photo 1If everybody realised just how easy it is to strike succulents from cutting, nobody would buy these plants unless they were new or exciting. This Crassula ovata (Jade Plant or money plant – very good for feng shui, apparently) could easily generate 30 good sized plants or many more smaller ones.
Photo 2The ground-hugging types which form rosettes are easy to lift and divide. As long as they are replanted in full sun with excellent drainage and light soils, each little rosette will form new roots when nestled into the soil. Tidy up the rosette first by removing dead leaves to avoid them holding moisture in the rotting foliage.
Photo 3Even succulents with well defined branches will grow. This is Aloe plicatilis or the fan aloe. Unlike usual leafy cuttings, succulents can be struck from very large pieces and you can expect close to 100% success rate. Cut to a balanced shape. Place the cutting in an airy spot and leave it for a few days to dry out. This reduces the chance of rotting before it creates roots.
Photo 4Stick the cutting into a pot filled with a free draining potting mix (we use granulated bark) It is better to use a mix which does not have much fertiliser in it but this is not critical. You can equally put them straight into the garden in a free draining, dry position. It may be necessary to stake the top if you have a heavy cutting so that it remains standing. Do not try and keep it firm by compacting the soil or potting mix because you want maximum drainage.
Photo 5Make sure that the cutting does not get waterlogged while you wait for it to form roots, but it will need an occasional wetting. In a few months, most plants will have started producing roots but it will take time for a large or heavy cutting to develop enough of a root ball to keep it standing upright.
Photo 6Most succulents, including the popular burgundy black aeonium whose name few can remember and even fewer can spell (Aeonium arboreum ‘Zwartkop’ or ‘Schwartzkopf’), sempervivens, aloes and many cacti can be increased this way. It is a good activity to share with children.

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