Paul Nickerson

Propagating Succulents – Rooting Techniques

In Propagation on October 13, 2010 at 11:33 pm

My mother has a number of Snake Plants, Sanseveria trifasciata, that were propagated from clippings of a parent plant owned by my great grandmother. The original plant was cut, and many members of my mother’s family currently own genetically identical daughter plants. Just under a year ago, I decided to continue the legacy, and planted clippings from my mother’s plant. Recently, a new plant emerged in my pot, showing that not only did the clippings successful root, but they also have put forth runners.

Although I had known about rooting plants from clippings, I was not aware of how simple it really was, especially when it comes to succulents. When taking segments of the parent plant, whether a clipping, or leaf, it is beneficial to water the parent plant heavily the day before. This will ensure that the clipping will have a high water content, and will be more prepared for the process. Furthermore, this will allow the parent plant to recover more readily. When taking clippings, be sure to use sterile scissors, and take the clippings as close to a node as possible. Make sure to include at least 2 or three nodes in the cutting. When harvesting a leaf for rooting, try to clip the leaf as close to the stem as possible.

There are two main ways by which to root segments: Water Rooting, and Medium Rooting. Water rooting is very simply explained, and is more commonly used for clippings, rather than leaves. With your clipping in hand, remove all of the leaves along the clipping, leaving only the topmost leaves. Then, place the clipping in a narrow container of water. The water should cover as many nodes as possible, as this is where the roots will form. Some people prefer to use a water soluble rooting hormone, but I have had success simple placing the cuttings in water.

Water Rooting Lavender

Although water rooting is typical with clippings, it is possible to root a leaf in the same manor. I have found that using a shallow tray (the bottom of a soda bottle) filled with water, can be used to soak just the bottom end of the leaf. Although it may be seen as cheating, I have found it very useful to place small shreds of paper towel in the container, this seems to stimulate root growth. When the roots have formed, transfer the plant over to a normal, medium filled pot, and allow the plant to continue growth.

Rooting a plant in medium is a little bit more complicated. Some plants will root effectively if the clipping or leaf is placed directly into the soil, watered, and is allowed to run its course. Although this may be true for some plants, such as my Snake Plant, many succulents require a bit more care.

After collecting your segments, it is important to allow them to sit in a clean area until a scab forms over the wound. This may take anywhere from a couple days, to a couple weeks depending on the clipping, and the humidity where it is stored. This scab is important, as will help the rooting process, and will help prevent infection. When the scab forms, you can apply a small amount of rooting hormone. I personally use Bontone ® Rooting Powder. I have learned however, that it is not entirely necessary to use a hormone, as I have had pretty much the same results with and without the hormone.

Medium Rooting Resting Technique

Once rooted, there are three methods typically used to starting the clipping. Many people subscribe to the idea that the cut end of the segment should simply be placed to rest on top of the soil. This will stimulate root growth downward into the medium. This same idea is reflected in the very similar technique of laying the leaf flat on top of the growing medium.

Planted Lavender Clippings

Another commonly used rooting technique is to physically plant the cutting. This is done by gently pressing the end of the cutting or leaf into the soil. If you apply a powder hormone to the cutting, it is important to make small holes in the medium, then inserting the cuttings, careful not to rub the hormone from the cuttings.

New Growth

After beginning the rooting process, it is important to immediately water the soil, then allow it to dry. Gently moistening the medium with a spray bottle can be helpful, but the majority of the nutrients needed to start roots will come from within the leaf itself. Once the roots have formed, water the new plant regularly, allowing the medium to dry slightly between waterings. One of my most effective rootings occurred void of any medium or supplemental water. After a short period of time, you will begin to notice new growth in the form of small leaves forming at the soil line.

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