Succulents and Air Plant Propagation.

I have been a greenhouse grower and a perennials grower for a good chunk of my life. and every year I teach how to make succulent window frames classes.

I am often asked where I get all my succulents, echevaria (hens and chicks), platycerium, graptopetalum, crassula, sedum and other succulents for the classes.

Well, it is true that I had to buy some at one point to start off and I sometimes still have to when my own are hurt by dry windy winters or going on vacation and having someone water them. All you need is one ( or more, and you can have many.)

The truth is I grow most of my own,, its easy and you can too.. Here’s how.
STARTING WITH SUCCULENTS: Regardless of the type of succulent - even cactus - this method works.
Take a healthy Plant,
and gentle pull a leaf ( sometimes called a scale) backwards off the plant ensuring that it looks like a U where it separates. If you pull forward the leaf will tear.
Although I usually use cell packs,  for a non commercial grower
- if you only have a few, put them in individual pots so you never have to transplant them until you want to.
- if you want to do lots - you can take all but 3-4 leaves off and the parent will survive and so will the leaves, just lie the leaves on a shallow container of dry soil or soilless potting mix. - this is a gallon ice cream bucket lid.

DO NOT give them any water, they have no roots and cannot absorb it so they will rot. 
DO NOT plant them, just lie them on the surface of the  soil
The leaves will not mind if they just let left on the counter for a day or two, the ends have to "dry seal" before they will propagate. 
The leaves that you plucked will begin to either dehydrate or rot, ignore them.  They are just there to provide nutrients to the developing plantlet until it gets roots.
Within 2 weeks to 6 weeks you will have babies showing up at the end of the leaves. now you can water them with a spray bottle with water - no fertilizer- but do not over water the roots are only tine ( under an inch longs and overwatering can cause them to rot.

This is a picture of how shallow the roots are 1 1/2 to 2 weeks after top growth is apparent.
at 3 weeks, the roots are much longer.
If you have them in an group planting like the ice cream lid above, move them into the containers you want them to spend the next 6-10 weeks in - or into the pot you want them in period.

When I am growing mine they are kept like with like as they develop roots and at 12 weeks - they look like this and must be transplanted to give them room.
12 weeks
Spaced out into 4 packs - mine will be transplanted at least one more time.
the ones in the back are now in 4 inch pots and the ones in front are almost ready to transplant into 4: pots - this is 16 weeks
Mine are sold individually, become bowls for sale or ..
turn into frames planters in classes I  give.
TILLANDSIA: Also known as air plants. 
Air plants are epiphytic, they absorb moisture and nutrients through their leaves. They also absorb chemicals through their leaves so NEVER fertilize them with anything that copper, boron or zinc. It will kill them. They never really need fertilizer but will produce "pups" and flowers faster if they do get a bit - fertilizer should be misted on once every 2-3 months.
When they have multiples they can be separated.
Many sites say to cut the pups off but I snap them off and then,
I hang them up so they can grow and make more pups.

To  care for them, they should be soaked at least 2-3 times a week.  that means watering them until the water runs off for at least 2 minutes or soaking them for about 15 minutes in a pot of water once a week. They should still be misted daily.

It will not hurt one of these plants to be glued onto a piece of wood or an ornament. They should never be glued to copper, or anything with zinc in it. It will eventually kill them; very quickly if when you water them, the water runs off the metal  onto the plant.

AIRPLANTS DO NOT NEED TO BE DIVIDED THEY WILL MAKE A HUGE CLUSTER however there will be times when a pup jumps from the pack, this is normal.

Because I do this for resale, I divide often.

Hope I helped!

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 36 questions
  • Debbie Foster Harrison
    on Mar 28, 2019

    How can you buy your plants.

    • Teresa
      on Mar 28, 2019

      How do I buy my plants or how do you buy my plants?

      I am a commercial grower, I have multiple sources who specialize in selling small plants in multiples from 51 to 512 a tray, depending what you want.

      To to buy my plants you come to my place of business

  • Roma Bassett
    on Aug 14, 2019

    Can you use this method for propagating String of Pearls?

    • Teresa
      on Aug 14, 2019

      Yes. Generally it’s easier if you have a least 3 pearls to lay across slightly damp soil. They will root from the stem sections between the pearls

  • Scarlette Sarah Elkins
    on Jan 6, 2020

    So I just lay the leaf on top of the soil ? I never actually plant it ?

    • Teresa
      on Jan 8, 2020

      You do not plant it and until there are roots to plant. “Air roots” develop first, the plant leaves rot if planted before they form roots

Join the conversation

4 of 169 comments
  • Amanda Eve
    on Feb 21, 2019

    So inspiring! Thank you for the post! I can't wait to get started!

    • Teresa
      on Feb 21, 2019

      Thank you, hope you don’t become addicted like I did!

  • Dawn
    on Mar 25, 2019

    I have a question about succulents in general I just started with one right now and I'm not sure if I water it like the rest of my plants or do I just missed it with the spray bottle?

    • Teresa
      on Mar 25, 2019

      You water then when the soil is dry. Water then we’ll, TIL water comes out the bottom holes of a pot. Just d not let the soil remain constantly moist. It must dry between waterings.

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