How to Separate Succulents
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If you’re a true succulent addict, you probably dream of filling your home with fat plants of every shape, size, and color. Sounds expensive, doesn’t it? Well, not if you can master the art of succulent propagation. With succulent propagation you’ll be able to fill your home with the plants you already have.
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One of the easiest ways to expand your collection of succulents and cacti is to make use of offsets. Offsets, sometimes called pups or plantlets, are those tiny plants that pop up around the base of a mature succulent or cactus. They often look like miniature versions of the mother plant. Once you know how to separate your succulents, you’ll be able to create an indoor succulent paradise. Or, you know, share a few with your friends.
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Why You Should Separate Your Succulents
If you’re growing your succulents in a container, it can get a little crowded if you let a mature plant continue to produce offsets. Separating your succulents will give both the mother plant as well as the offsets plenty of room to grow. Remember, most species of succulents are slow growers, so you don’t need to rush to separate offsets as soon as they appear. However, they may not grow as well if left in crowded conditions for long periods of time.
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Separating your succulents will also allow you to expand your garden or collection of plants. Each offset is capable of growing into a healthy adult plant that will eventually produce its own offsets. If you dream of a backyard or indoor space overflowing with succulents, separating them will allow you to plant the offsets wherever you please and design the space of your dreams.
Most importantly, dividing your succulents will allow you to share your love of succulents with friends and family. You can use the offsets to create beautiful projects such as wreaths, centerpieces, or fairy gardens. Or, you can simply plant them in individual pots. Either way, succulents make wonderful heartfelt gifts that your friends and family are sure to enjoy.
When to Divide Succulents
Most gardeners choose to separate their succulents and cacti during the growing season. For some species, this may be the spring or summer, while others may grow more during the winter. To determine when your succulents’ growing season begins, you’ll need to research the individual species. The reason for separating during this time is that it will allow the offsets to grow enough to really establish themselves as individual plants before their growth slows.
If you plan on repotting your mature succulent or cactus, this can be a great time to separate the pups from the mother plant. Taking the entire plant out of the soil to separate and repot gives you the opportunity to examine the root system and have a more accurate idea of where you’ll be separating the plants.
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How to Split Succulents
Before you begin to separate your succulents, you’ll need to gather all of the tools you’ll need to accomplish the task. Be sure you have enough containers and appropriate soil for each offset and the mother plant, if you plan on repotting at the same time. You’ll also need clean, sharp shears. Shears can be cleaned using soap and water, but you can sterilize them with a quick dip or spritz with alcohol.
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If you’re separating cacti, you’ll also want to be sure you have a way of safely handling your prickly plants. Depending on the size of your cacti, you may want to use gloves or even a towel. For smaller cacti, you can use tongs. Regular kitchen tongs may work fine, or you can find specialized tongs designed specifically for handling cactus. Regardless of what you use, be sure to handle your cacti carefully to avoid damaging them or injuring yourself.
Depending on the species and size of the succulents you’re separating, it may be easier to remove them from the soil before separation. It’s possible to safely cut offsets from the mother plant while leaving them in the soil, but with certain plants it may be easier to take them out so that you can see the root system and where you should cut. Again, this is an ideal time for repotting so do so if it is necessary.
With many types of plants, such as Aloe or Sempervivum, offsets will be relatively easy to remove. You’ll simply cut them away from the base of the mother plant using your shears. Just be sure to clean or sterilize your shears between plants to make sure you aren’t spreading bacteria or fungus.
Succulents that tend to grow in clumps, like Sansevieria and many species of cacti, you can simply tear the clumps apart with your hands. Rather than separating each plant as an individual you can simply divide the clump into smaller sections. Again, you’ll want to thoroughly wash your hands between each plant to prevent the spread of disease.
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Growing Succulent Offsets
Propagating succulents with offsets is one of the easiest methods of succulent reproduction. This is because offsets can basically be treated like mature plants, just in miniature. They often have already sprouted roots and are perfectly capable of thriving on their own, no matter where you decide to plant them.
Before planting your succulent offsets in their new homes, it’s crucial that you leave the plantlets out to dry for a few days or even weeks. As with cuttings, you want to give the open wounds left by your shears a chance to callous before introducing them to any bacteria or fungus that may be in the soil. Letting the plants callous will give them the necessary layer of protection to give them the best chance of survival once planted.
After allowing the wounds to callous, you can simply plant your succulent offsets and let them grow. Be sure to give them plenty of sunlight, the right type of soil, and use correct watering techniques. Remember, each species of succulent may require slightly different care so you should do a little research into your specific plants to make sure you’re giving them the right type of care.