Today I co-hosted an Austin, TX themed baby shower, and I was so excited to put together some baby potted succulent favors to give to the guests! Cacti and succulents for a major part of the local landscape here in central Texas, and are some of the more hearty and simple plants to grow, both indoors and out. And of course, succulents have been all the rage for a couple years now, so they fit the current design trend as well. These beauties are especially fun because I grew as a succulent propagation experiment that I started around a year ago, and these little guys are the first baby plants to be large enough to give away.
Read on to see the cheeky care cards close up, and to learn a little more about my tips for caring for and propagating succulents!
I have found my collection of succulents and cacti to be really simple to care for, and I’m always surprised when friends tell me how theirs have died! So for the gifts, I included a fun little care card. “Plant Baby (much easier to care for than human baby)” Then on the reverse, “Soak with water once every 2-3 weeks in the winter and 1-2 weeks in the summer. Let soil dry completely between waterings. Place in bright, indirect sunlight, like a window sill. Love like a child.”
So, I don’t feel like I’m an authority on succulents by any means, but I do have around 25 healthy, growing succulent plants and around 30 healthy, growing baby plants, so at least I can keep them alive! The number one tip I have for succulent care is:
DO NOT OVERWATER.
I water my plants about every two weeks in the summer and about every three weeks in the winter when the plants are dormant. I use a liquid succulent fertilizer and do a soaking water where I can see a little bit drain out the bottom of the pot. Because these plants are desert plants, they are used to flood-like rain, followed by drought, so I try to mimic that with the waterings. The plants will die quickly if you overwater–they will get root rot and then just bite the dust. It takes longer to kill one by under-watering, though, so you have more time to notice the signs of thirst, like leaves beginning to dry. So, I definitely error on the side of under watering. I stick my finger down into the soil as far as I can and if I feel any moisture at all, the next watering can wait.
As far as sunlight, I keep mine on the windowsills of my home, and occasionally rotate them onto the fireplace mantle or the living room console. They need bright, indirect sunlight, and so far mine have been happy on sills that get at least an hour or two of bright light per day. I’ve noticed on a couple of my plants that they’re stretching out towards the window for light, so I’ve moved those into brighter spots to get happier.
If you search “How to propagate succulents” you’ll get a ton of results, so I’ll just quickly share some of my experience, that I’ve been documenting on instagram (@livefreemiranda) with the hashtag #growgreenthumb. I started with five succulents and used two for leaves. I separated the bottom leaves gently from the main plant, and laid them out on a platter to dry out a little bit. This us supposed to prevent rot. Then I laid them out over a mixture of 1/2 succulent soil and 1/2 perlite, which is supposed to help with drainage. Then, I left them alone! I watered the pans every two weeks or so, and let the soil dry between waterings just like my other plants.
After about three weeks I saw tiny pink roots start to emerge from the leaves and I knew they were starting to grow. It was so exciting! Then, about three months later, the first tiny plants started to emerge from the ends of the leaves. They were teeny, and still totally dependent on the main leaf. So, I just left them alone. Maybe six months later, I had a few plants that were large enough to transplant to their own little yogurt cups. Now, almost a year later, I was able to transplant 12 full little plants, and I have about twenty that are still growing strong.
The cacti work a little differently, and they sprout pups which are like little baby cacti attached to the mama. To propagate those is as simple as cutting the pup off carefully, letting the cut dry up a bit to prevent rot, then replanting.
This whole endeavor is truly my first real experience growing anything at all, so I’ve been learning along as I experiment. I am happy filling up my house with these little babies, though, and loved seeing the project bring others some joy today, too!