Succulent rock garden
The cheapest way to grow your succulent collection is to start planting from cuttings.
Sometimes, buying fully rooted succulents can be a bit pricey, especially if you get those beautiful Echeverias or rare succulent species.
If you are just starting out and you are not very confident yet of keeping these plants alive, start something cheaper. One way to do that is by learning how to plant from cuttings.
Where do you get succulent cuttings in the first place? From your friends or neighbors, your succulent plants if you’ve grown some already, or online stores like Chopstick and Succulents.
You can plant them individually in pots or create arrangements.
When I browse online or go to any of those alternative grocery stores where they have a plant department and see those elegantly arranged succulent baskets, I smile and tear up.
I smile because those little beauties almost always warm my heart. And I tear up because I almost always choke at the prices.
Unless they’re on sale or clearance, in which case, they are either elongating or close to dying.
Cuttings are way cheaper than buying them fully rooted. And yes, you do have to spend some time and effort growing them. But that’s also where the joy is. Being responsible for the growth and well-being of something so beautiful and vibrant has its rewards.
Just like the coupons and the discounts that make you feel so accomplished and victorious, so does planting succulents from cuttings.
The need to air dry
Some people let them air-dry for a few days, while others, like me, plant them directly into the soil. I do it because I make arrangements. And when I’m inspired, I have to do it right away; otherwise, I lose my momentum.
Why the need to air dry them first? This short period allows the cut part of the plant to heal or callous. That means the exposed portion is sealed and has more protection from diseases or from absorbing extra water.
It’s a cut-and-dry method. Literally.
If you have not tried this method, I strongly encourage you to. You’d be surprised how easy it is to do.
All you need to do is put the succulent cuttings on a tray or paper towel for up to a week. Again, some do it longer. Put them where there’s light but no direct sun.
Then after that, you can plant them in your containers or pots. Then leave them alone again for about two weeks. For real.
Watering succulents is the tricky part and most often the part where many make mistakes.
The critical part is remembering what NOT to do. For example, DO NOT WATER your succulent cuttings for two weeks. And do not expose them to direct sunlight.
We skip watering them early because the tip is not fully calloused yet, and they do not have roots to absorb the water properly. Instead, they have an open cut that can become an entry point for bacteria to invade the unstable plant.
These succulent babies are still not stable at this state, so we do not expose them to direct sunlight either. Also, they’re very vulnerable at this time and can quickly get sunburned.
Your concern about not giving them water is natural. But this instinct to nurture these plants is what you have to ignore.
What to expect
A bowl of Echeverias that has not been watered for four weeks may look somewhat wrinkly, yet they continue living. They survive because succulents are drought-resistant plants, and they can stay for long periods with no water by altering their physical features.
In this case, their leaves shrink, and the rosettes close up or become more compact to prevent further water loss.
But when they receive enough water, they can open up their rosettes again and expand their leaves to accommodate more water and allow some evaporation.
After two to three weeks, you might notice some dried leaves at the bottom of the plants. Don’t worry, this is normal. Those leaves can be a sign that the roots have started growing.
More examples to build your confidence
Another example is a succulent plant just sitting on top of the pebbles. Even unplanted can continue living and will grow some roots.
Still not convinced about the survival rate of cuttings?
This story of mine might give you more confidence about growing succulents this way.
Some time ago, I went on a vacation and left a bunch of succulent cuttings in our patio where there’s filtered light. I was not able to readily plant them because I went away for a few weeks. They were just on top of a newspaper, and yet they began to grow roots.
Succulent plants are perfect, especially for people who claim to be serial plant killers. They are very forgiving when it comes to watering, more specifically the lack thereof.
They are drought-resistant and can survive stressful conditions like not having enough water available for a more extended period.
Although you may have started with colorful cuttings, understand that their colors can slowly fade to green when they do not get enough sunlight.
Do not worry. Our colorful cuttings can still come back to their vibrant selves.
Once these babies are fully rooted or stable, you can slowly expose them again to direct sunlight. And with the proper watering technique, they can become colorful again.
The only catch is if your weather or climate will allow them.
Areas with higher humidity might not be able to grow colorful ones. Or during winter when the temperature dips below freezing, and you need to bring them inside.
But then again, you can also use grow lights. But that’s another blog.
To ensure the overall success of your succulent planting, always remember to use well-draining soil and containers with holes.
With this information, I hope that you will take the time and be brave enough to plant succulents from cuttings. Then, you can plant them on their pot or make arrangements.
And given time, your itty-bitty cuttings will also grow into the lovely and colorful succulents you can be proud of. And you can do this process all over again.
Admit it, when you can have more for less, don’t you feel like a winner?