Have I mentioned my obsession with house plants yet? I’m convinced that house plants are one of the essential elements that make a house feel like a home. This spring, I caught house plant fever and snatched up every plant that caught my eye. Every flat surface near a window in my apartment is covered with green plants—my living room is turning into a veritable jungle!
I’ve since banned myself from purchasing more plants, but I don’t need to, anyway. I’ve learned how to make my own! Technically, I didn’t make them. I propagated them. Propagation is an intimidating word that means “vegetative reproduction”, or as I like to think of it, “magic”. When you propagate a plant, you’re basically creating another plant with the exact same genetic makeup as the original plant. That’s right, you can clone plants in your own living room!
My first experiments with propagation involved snipping off stems here and there and plopping them in a vase of water. Even the cuttings that didn’t grow roots made lovely green accents and lasted way longer than flowers.
Propagating succulents proved to be a more involved process, but far from difficult. I noticed that one of my succulents was growing pitifully more lopsided as the summer went by. One day, after a glass (or three) of wine, I couldn’t take it any longer. I declared, “Off with its head!” and snipped off the lopsided top section with a pair of sharp scissors.
After some preliminary research online I had a decent understanding of how to propagate my succulent cutting, but I couldn’t find any good pictures of the process. Just what does a “callused” succulent cutting look like, anyway? Although the process itself is decidedly simple, I documented the process so I could show you how it works.
Here is how to propagate a succulent:
- Snip off a piece of a succulent stem with a few leaves on it. Lay it down inside in a shady spot for several days until the end of it has callused, meaning that the end is no longer a slick, shiny green but a rougher texture in a more muted shade. See examples of succulents with callused ends in the first row of photos.
- Once the end has roughened up, find a small pot with a drainage hole and add a layer of rocks at the bottom for even better drainage. Succulents are built for desert conditions and don’t fare well with excess water, so this is an important step. Fill the pot with soil designed for cacti/succulents, and plant your cutting. See the end result in photo 2.
- Don’t water your cutting yet! You’ll want to wait until it has started to grow roots before you water it. To check for roots, you can just pull it out of the pot and stick it back in. Once the roots appear, go ahead and water your cutting about once a week. Over watering a succulent is a surefire way to turn it into a mess of dull, soggy leaves.
- In a few weeks, your succulent cutting will have roots like the last picture, and you’ll have successfully propagated your own succulent. Voila!
For more detailed instructions, check out this video series on the subject. Also check out Apartment Therapy’s list of 10 best succulents, Sunset’s guide to making your own succulent art, Sprout home’s guide to making your own terrariums, and Martha’s guide to succulent terrariums.