How to steal and propagate succulents
Wednesday August 1, 2012·
In an attempt to foster the appearance of an adult woman who isn't scraping at the poverty line and is dealing well with the tribulations of her personal life, I've been propagating and growing succulents for a few years. Do you know who can effortlessly maintain a small, lush indoor steppe? Someone who has her shit together.
In reality, any dingus with some ceramic vessels and little shame can grow a 'For the Home' Pinterest board-worthy garden for close to zero dollars. After cruising some online gardening forums, I realised that I've been propagating the wrong way this entire time. I was just sticking the cuttings in water until they formed roots. Which still works, but there's a good chance that some will get stinky and die. Stagnant water and all that. Having learnt the way of the masters, I'm going to show you the best way to start your own potted labyrinth that is super-low maintenance but will disproportionately boost your sense of self worth.
You will need:
- Some succulent cuttings
- Plant pots (we used some little ones with drainage holes - depending on your budget and propensity for twee, an old bowl or teacup will do)
- A pile of potting mix
- Some sand or something else gritty (anything that will provide good drainage when mixed with soil - I've heard good things about that non-clumping, gravelly cat litter)
Step 1: Find some big ol' succulents. If they're in someone's garden, make sure you ask. Most people will be cool about you taking a discreet snip at their plants but others get shirty. Do what I did and avoid social contact altogether by taking cuttings from public gardens and nature strips. The mouthbreather glaring at me from his second-story window doesn't own that bit of gutter grass despite what he thinks.
Step 2: Find a bit of the plant that you think would look good in a pot and snap it off, leaving a 5 to 10cm stem. Ideally, you should make the cutting with a sharp, clean blade to prevent bacterial and fungal infection, but this activity is suspect enough without adding the potential for knife crime to the mix.
Step 3: Dry the cutting in a well-ventilated area, out of direct sunlight, for one to two days. This allows the cut to develop a callus that prevents fungus getting up in your succulent and killing it slowly.
Step 4: Neatly lay out your materials for planting. Step back and admire the arrangement of your items. Take a photo and upload it to Instagram; I won't judge you.
Step 5: Make your succulent potting mix. On a surface you can mix things on, measure out equal parts of potting mix and gritty stuff.
Step 6: Mix it up with your hands. Feel at one with Gaia.
Step 7: Shovel the succulent mix into your pots.
Step 8: Figure out how you want to plant your succulents. Try to get some variation in height and colour in your arrangement.
Step 9: Once you've figured that out, make a hole in the soil deep and wide enough you hold your cutting. It looks and feels weirdly erotic. Let go, embrace it.
Step 10: Place the cutting into the hole and make sure the cutting is surrounded by the succulent mix.
Step 11: Continue steps nine and ten until you've finished your arrangement. Don't be afraid to pull off any leaves that get in your way - succulents are fairly tough.
Step 12: You're done! Water your potted succulent well and allow the water to drain. Water it again only when the soil starts to dry out. Place in a warm, sunny location. The cuttings are rooted once it begins producing new growth, so at about four to six weeks.
Step 13: Step and repeat. You've come a long way, baby.
HOT TIPS: The Yarra and Darebin council areas have many succulent-rich parks and nature strips (80% of the plants in my house started their lives in that park under Bridge Road). Moreland Council has a high concentration of old ethnic people, ergo, succulents.