Propagating Echeverias, Update


Updated with corrections 

A previous blog post mentioned Echeveria renewal and propagation through decapitation, and other methods of creating more of these wonderful little plants.  This post has some additional pictures and information. 

Echeverias are "opportunistic" growers.  If the weather is to their liking--mild--they will grow.  They like conditions neither too hot, greater than the low 80s F (~27 C), nor too cold, less than about 62F (14 C).  In other words, they like the temperatures that we like.  If you are comfortable, they are comfortable, and ready to do some growing. 

Decapitating Echeverias does three good things.  First, you eliminate that long bare stem that doesn't look so good:
Echeveria with bare stem 
The cut-off rosette will grow new roots and quickly look as good as it used to,  no longer sitting high above the ground on a turkey-like bare neck: 

 Echeveria 'Arlie Wright', re-rooted:
Echeveria 'Arlie Wright'
Update on 'Arlie Wright' January 2015:  below is the same plant, now far happier in the ground.  She didn't much like being in a pot:
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The second benefit of Echeveria decapitation is that old bare stem can produce many new rosettes, which you can also slice off and root.  'Arlie Wright's former stem has seven new rosettes growing so far--this picture shows five of them:
Decapitated Echeveria

The third benefit is that it is the best way to get lots of new plants from solitary growers.  Some Echeverias produce new rosettes like crazy--E. 'Imbricata' is great for this--but some remain solitary, and also don't propagate well from leaves, so decapitation is the best option.

Do your decapitating at the start of a long stretch of mild weather, say early to mid Spring. They will have time to do some growing before extreme summer heat arrives to shut down their activity.  Here in Southern California, late Summer may also be an option if you are near the coast.

For decapitation, take about a half an inch to an inch of stem along with the rosette, and let the cut dry in the shade for a few days.  Use a clean knife, razor blade, or clippers to avoid infecting the cut.  Be careful when using clippers to avoid crushing the stem.  

Rooting powder is okay, not because the rooting powder helps the rooting, but because rooting powder contains fungicide, which helps keep the cut from getting an infection that can encourage rot.  It might be helpful in damp climates.  Here I've never needed it.  Ground cinnamon from the kitchen pantry has anti-microbial properties and many people use a dusting of that rather than rooting powder.

You can either suspend your rosette an eighth of an inch above dry cactus mix, or let it rest lightly on top--pink thready roots will start to grow.  When you see the roots you can plant the rosette and water lightly, to get those roots growing.  Provide bright shade, with at most a touch of early morning sun.  Many Echeverias can handle a significant amount of shade, as I have discovered.  In nature they may grow among long grasses and other plants, shaded by them.  They are also found on sheer vertical cliffs, where they may get only a few hours of direct sunlight per day.

I've also read that taking a small, clean slice of stem along with a leaf can increase chances of getting a new plant from a leaf.  Use a clean razor blade for the cut. 

My Echeveria leaves from the previous post are all growing new rosettes.  The largest are almost an inch in diameter now.  Growth will come to a standstill in extreme summer heat, then restart in the fall when the weather cools off again.

Leaf propagation of Echeveria

Small, barely rooted Echeverias need more moisture than a large, well-rooted plant.  Of course, since they are succulents, you don't want soggy soil, but more frequent watering is necessary.  Remember, no peat in your mix, because peat can lead to rot.  A spray bottle filled with water and a light misting can provide sufficient moisture.  Adjust the frequency of misting according to temperatures and humidity.

Sorry for some duplication from that other Echeveria post, but I'm so jazzed about those seven new rosettes on 'Arlie Wright'!

Update 11/12/2010:  two things I heard from a succulent expert:  "drying out precipitates rooting" (meditate on that one), and the other, rather stunning thing:  some Echeveria flower stems will root and produce tiny new plantlets, too.  I'm trying this myself, and will update with results.  November isn't the best time, but I'm eager to try...

Update 5/2011:  Th Echeveria flower stalk did root--but now what?  I've got a rooted flower stalk with leaves on it, but it's not exactly a good looking plant.  However, one leaf is already developing a new rosette:

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So, this is yet another possible method to propagate more Echeverias.  A rooted  flower stalk is an intermediate stage to a new plant.  The rosettes still  have to be cut off and rooted.   Here, the rosettes on the stem are already growing fresh pink roots for themselves:
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I hope this information gives you more Echeverias.

Comments

  1. Awesome pictures - they really show the full detail of how this works. I grow about 30 different kinds of Echeveria, and although I'm not in the Yukon, it is a challenge in the winter (fluorescent lights etc) but for the summer they all go into my nice bright greenhouse. I do use a peat based mix, but it's got a high proportion of aggregate for drainage. Echeveria don't like lime though, so that's definitely something to eliminate if possible.

    Propagation is my favorite thing...

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  2. 30 different Echeverias! I am envious! Do you have a favorite?

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  3. Another great post on propagation! And I'm in agreement with blue fox on the pics. Awesome! I will have to check her out if she has a blog. 30 kinds of eche's!

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  4. Nice tips, I just moved my box with leaves to a brighter spot (it's spring here in Chile)and the rosettes are growing like crazy. They're under a polycarbonate roof, and get bright light from morning to sunset (no shade, but the polycarbonate reflects some of the light). I'll be careful when the weather gets hotter though, I will put them on a shadier place.

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    1. Thank you! In habitat they will snuggle down in long grass for the summer, the grass exposing them to much sun in mild spring weather, growing up to shade them in summer, and here where I stuck a few rosettes in between clumps of Carex, they are ecstatically happy, if unseen.

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  5. Great post! I am trying to grow some babies from the succulents in my wedding bouquet, so even though it's winter here in NZ I'm anxious for it to work! One of the varieties is nice and fleshy, and it's already sending out wee roots. Should I be planting the roots into the soil, or do you just leave them on top of the soil until rosettes appear? I've also been wondering what you do with the parent leaf once the new plant's established: does it just shrivel away on its own, or do you have to cut it off so it doesn't rot? The second variety I have is much less fleshy, with pointy red leaves. They've kinda curled up and look a bit shrivelled, I'm worried that I let them dry for too long :( I have one still left in the bouquet (which has been hanging to dry!), so maybe I should try your trick of suspending a whole rosette just above the soil. Any thoughts appreciated :)

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    1. The tiny roots will work their way into the soil, you can help a little by sprinkling a tiny bit of soil over the roots. Just let the parent leaf be, it will shrivel away on its own and finally disconnect itself. The new plant will suck the nutrients/water out of it to use for food. On the dry one, try laying it on very slightly damp soil; you may give it a fine, light mist of water every once in a while, but watch carefully for rot in your climate.

      Congratulations to you on your marriage, much happiness to you and your spouse.

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  6. Hi! Thanks for all the info! I've never been a flower/plant person but my recent visits to a nursery has totally converted me. Now I'm an obsessed succulent addict. I've bought like 15 little succulents in the past 3 days. From all that I've read, they seem pretty hardy and I'm hoping I don't kill them. It's hot and humid where I am so they get a few hours of sunlight, then shade. I'm not a patient person and I'm hoping the leaves will start propagating and rooting soon! I left the leaves on the soil(cut part not in touch with the soil though) to dry out, 3rd day today. should I be inserting the cut parts of the leaves in the soil? or misting them?

    Another question, all the little rosettes on the main stem, how do you cut them off to repot? Won't the cutting injure them since they're so close to the main stem?

    Sorry for the questions, I'm totally new to this whole gardening thing. Thanks!

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    1. Hi Chef, plants are a great way to learn patience--if you are not, you'll end up killing them.

      If your area is humid, be very sparing with the water. Generally, hot+humid+watering = unhappy succulent. All the little rosettes will eventually form roots of their own. Leave them attached until they do, then gently snap them off. Leave all wounds to dry out before repotting and on the original plant don't water it until the wound has a chance to heal.

      The individual leaves will form roots. They don't have to have immediate contact with the soil. The roots will reach for the soil. Wait until you see some roots and then gently stick them into soil, but not very deep. Too deep = rot. Since your area is humid, mist is not recommended and be careful about overwatering.

      Another thing about those little succulents, they are often planted in straight peat, which can be too moisture-retaining for humid areas. Mass-market growers know what they are doing and have very controlled conditions so they can get away with peat. Home gardeners can't. A cactus mix of pumice, coarse sand or grit, and just a small amount of peat (<10%) is often recommended for humid climates.

      Hardiness depends on the succulent--a lot are only good to 32F, but some sedums and Sempervivums, those from alpine areas of Europe, are very hardy indeed. Find out what you have and that will help you know how to take care of them.

      Hope that helps.

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    2. thank you for articulating all this valuable info so simply. in your experience, do cuttings succeed if they got drenched in pouring rains? i have done pretty well letting them dry out and root with sporadic misting from my balcony in bright shade but now they're thoroughly soaked and i'm not sure if i should dilute the soil with cactus mix or if the disturbance would be less shocking than rotting. My attempts to protect them saved most but many are soaking wet. Also, would beheading be a good or bad idea post heavy rains? Thanks, again!

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    3. A short drenching with rain is likely good for them. Let them dry out pretty thoroughly before watering again.

      Take a drinking straw or a tiny air pump with a tube attached to it, and blow all the water out of the center of the cuttings and out of all crevices. Get all the leaves nice and dry.

      Beheading, at this point I'd wait a few more weeks, not because of the rain per se but because spring is almost here and they will be ready to start growing more rapidly. Make sure whatever you are going to cut is dry so that it calluses over quickly, and avoid cutting in very damp/high humidity conditions to reduce chances of fungal infections.

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  7. This is so great!! I'm very excited about propagating some plants now!!! We have to bring in ours over the winter (oh Canada), but now they are getting tall , so it's time to make little fresh ones so I can share the wonder of succulent planters with all my friends!! Hoping to use these as a 'modern' planter design for some of our (landscaping company) clients who want something mod and chic

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    1. You can grow Sempervivums? They do not grow well here--I think they like winter chill. Yes, succulents make a fabulous 'modern' arrangement--they are so architectural in their sleek forms.

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  8. Thanks for the detailed explanation with the lovely clear pictures. How exciting to see those little pink roots from the rosettes on the stem! I've rooted a few by poking broken leaves back in the soil and had the sheer luck of finding broken off leaves resting on the ground with tiny roots that I would then plant. It didn't occur to me that they might actually be rooting better laying on the soil then in it. Thank you, can't wait to try it.

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  9. This post is better written, more interesting, and has better images than countless "references." Thank you so much for taking the time to post. Excellent!

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  10. Loved reading your post and learnt so many interesting things. I have been experimenting with flowerstalk propagation too, by just cutting off the top of the newly emerging flower stalk rosette. A couple are now rooted which is very exciting! Just wondering how you got on with your flower stalk propagation?

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    1. I did get some rosettes off rooted stems. I waited until the flowers were bloomed out, though. I like the flowers (so do the hummingbirds). :) Graptoveria 'Fred Ives' tends to produce a rosette at the top of a flower stalk. Those root very easily.

      Happy you enjoyed the post, thank you!

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