Propagate your Plants!

This is the big clean-up season before winter sets in. We’re all raking leaves, cutting back perennials, cleaning pots and tools and putting them away until next spring, and tossing out annuals.

But wait, before you toss all the plants that won’t make it through winter’s freezes, especially certain succulents, why not take cuttings and pot them up for next spring? You can make lots of rooted cuttings from overgrown, leggy succulents.

Here’s how to do it:
Line up a bunch of small clean florists’ pots. Fill them with seed-starting mix, available at any nursery. I make my own from 50% vermiculite, 50% sifted compost from the garden, and a little perlite. It’s not sterile, but it works fine. Poke a 1″ deep hole in the center with a pencil.

Clip approximately 4″ to 6″ off the best-looking stems of your succulents. This one is blue chalk fingers (Senecio vitalis “Serpents”), which is hardy in warm climates. I bought one small plant more than five years ago and it has dozens and dozens of great-great-great grandchildren.


Remove the bottom leaves. At the bottom end, strip off about 1/2″ of the outer skin with your thumbnail and dip it in rooting hormone powder (a tiny bottle has lasted me for years). Set the end into the hole in the seed-starting mix. Tamp the mix around the stem so the cutting stands up straight. Water gently.


Keep your cuttings in a sunny spot outdoors until the temperature drops below 40 degrees (like tonight—it feels like a mini-hurricane out there). Bring them indoors to a bright windowsill and let them grow over the winter, watering once a week or when the mix feels very dry. In the spring, add the now-rooted cuttings to your mixed arrangements or pot them up into larger containers and let them shine on their own. The ones you don’t have space for make great gifts.


Above is last years crop and here are two containers I’ve filled with succulents grown from cuttings. If you like to grow Hens and Chicks, Sempervivum (which means ‘live forever’) tectorum, you can remove the baby chicks, keeping a bit of root attached, and repot them, as I’ve done in the strawberry pot. Every trip to Mexico means bringing home at least one pot in my suitcase, protected by the laundry.

About writedesigner

Graphic designer, writer, and gardener Ellen Shapiro is based in Irvington, New York. A frequent contributor to design blogs and magazines including Print, Imprint,, Communication Arts, and Etapes, she writes about trends, issues and personalities in design, illustration, photography, and visual culture around the world.
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1 Response to Propagate your Plants!

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