If you are trying to propagate your succulents through the use of cuttings, do you need to wait for these to callus? There are two schools of thought on propagating through the use of cuttings. One camp believes that you should not wait for cuttings to callus. Instead, they prefer planting the cuttings directly into pots.
The other camp prefers using callused cuttings. This means that you should not plant cuttings into the soil immediately. Instead, you should wait until the cuttings are callused.
When is a succulent calloused?
A succulent is calloused when cell tissues develop in the parts of the plant that have been damaged or cut. Apart from protecting the wounded areas in a plant, the cells in callus tissues can facilitate the growth of new roots, stems, and leaves.
Which succulents should you let callus first?
Both schools of thought are correct. Many gardeners have found success either way.
There are plant cuttings that you can place directly into the soil without waiting for these to callus. And there are plants, like succulents, that fare better after developing calluses.
If you are propagating plants with soft and thin stems, do not wait until these develop calluses. These cuttings tend to dry up quickly and wilt when exposed to the air.
Wilting and drying up are signs that the cutting is under severe stress. Ultimately, the cutting may not survive this severe stress.
In this situation, you will gain more chances of success by planting the cutting directly into a pot. Covering the plant afterward helps create a greenhouse effect that minimizes, if not totally prevents moisture loss.
These cuttings should also be kept in slightly moist conditions just until new roots emerge.
Plants with thick or woody stems, like succulents, have cuttings that do not lose moisture fast. Compared to the cuttings of soft-stemmed plants, succulent cuttings can be kept longer without drying up fast.
Before planting succulent cuttings, it is imperative to wait until calluses have formed. Otherwise, if you plant succulent cuttings without calluses, it is highly likely that these will rot.
Semi-succulents refer to plants that are not considered to be true succulents. These include hoyas and geraniums.
With these plants, you can either wait for calluses to develop or you can place their cuttings directly into the soil. Either way works fine.
How long will it take for a cutting to callus?
The amount of time it will take for a cutting to develop a callus will depend on the type of plant you are trying to propagate. In particular, you need to consider the thickness of the stem.
Broadly speaking, the thicker the stem, the more time it will take for a callus to develop.
Succulents like sansevierias and crassulas have moderately-thick stems. In general, it will take a few days before the cuttings from these plants are ready for planting. However, it is not unusual for the cuttings of these plants to develop calluses overnight.
Cacti and euphorbias which have thick stems will take weeks, even months, to form calluses. And even if these cuttings develop calluses, there is a high probability that these will rot or will not form roots.
To overcome this particular challenge, it is best to take cuttings during spring or summer. Additionally, harvest cuttings from the secondary stem.
Some succulents, like euphorbias, release latex or white sap after getting cut. This sap is both irritating and toxic.
To stop the white sap from oozing from the cutting, you can dip it in cold water or spray cold water. Alternatively, you can cauterize the wound by exposing it to an open flame.
How do you callus succulents?
Callusing is a straightforward process that requires a minimal amount of tools and resources.
One important thing that you should remember is that moisture is never a part of this equation.
Check your cuttings. If you notice parts that have become rotten, trim these off. Be sure to make a clean cut using a sharp knife.
Put your cuttings on a clean and dry paper towel. Be sure to put the paper towel and your cuttings in a dry and shaded area. Never put your cuttings in an area directly under the sun.
If your cuttings are long, be sure to turn these over from time to time. This will help prevent roots from forming from the sides.
Once you noticed that calluses have formed on the cuttings, you can now plant these into pots. Be sure to use well-draining soil.
Do not water your cuttings. Instead, wait until your cuttings develop new roots. To check for root growth, you can lift the cuttings from their pots. Depending on the succulent you are propagating, you may need to wait anywhere between a few days to several weeks.
Once you notice that roots have formed, you can now begin watering your new plants. Be sure to wait until the soil has become completely dry before watering again. Otherwise, there is a risk that your succulents will rot.
A few helpful tips
The thicker the cutting, the longer it will take for it to callus. If you want your cuttings to callus quicker, consider using leaves instead of stems.
Due to the smaller wounds, leaves tend to callus faster compared to stems.
It is possible to plant succulent cuttings into the soil without waiting for calluses to form. However, your cuttings should be thin. Furthermore, you should use a potting mix that is completely dry. The cuttings will then form calluses beneath the potting mix.
From time to time, you can water your succulent cuttings moderately. Your new plants will not need as much moisture during this period.
For thick-stemmed succulents, you have no other recourse but to wait for the calluses to form. This may take anywhere between several weeks and months.
Usually, it is okay to leave cuttings undergoing callusing lying on their sides. You can plant these immediately after the calluses develop.
But for thick-stemmed cuttings, it is best to put these in an upright position instead of placing these on their sides.
You can either prop your cuttings against a wall or tie a string around these to keep these upright. Some succulent growers keep their cuttings upright by placing these inside glass containers while waiting for the callus to form.
The primary benefit of keeping cuttings in an upright position is that you prevent their tips from growing upwards. When the tips grow upwards, the new plant will bend at the stem.
How do you care for your cuttings?
Young succulents do not need direct sunlight. As such, place your new succulent containers in an area with plenty of indirect light and airflow.
Indirect sunlight facilitates the growth of new roots. Airflow, on the other hand, keeps pests at bay.
Although mature succulents hate excessive moisture, young succulents need more water. As much as possible, do not allow the soil in their pots to dry completely. For succulents grown out of cuttings, the rule of thumb is to water two to four times a week.
Once the roots of the cuttings emerge and stabilize, you can transition them to deep but infrequent watering. At this point, you can water your cuttings two to four times a week and allow the soil to become completely dry in between watering sessions.
This is also the best time to repot your succulents to bigger containers. You should also help your succulents transition to their ideal lighting conditions.
Young succulents do not require fertilizers. In fact, using fertilizers on succulents grown from cuttings can be detrimental to their wellbeing. Fertilizers can burn the roots of young plants. It is better to wait until your cuttings mature.
An easy way to grow your succulent collection
Propagating calloused succulents is a quick and easy way to grow your collection. Follow these tips closely, and soon, you will have more succulents that you can give or even sell.
Image: Istockphoto.com / Phaisit