One of the things that make succulents such awesome plants is that they can easily clone themselves into several mini succulents.
Whoever came up with, ‘Buy one get six free’ must have had succulents in mind.
And it even gets better; with adequate care, the mother plant never stops producing baby succulents.
And caring for one is super easy too.
The only tricky spot to navigate, especially for newbies, is how to separate baby succulents from the mother succulents successfully.
But As you’d find out in this article, separating baby succulents (offsets) and propagating them is pretty straightforward.
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How to Separate Baby Succulents
Baby succulents, also known as offsets or pups, are the exact clones of the parent succulent.
They are ‘birthed’ by the roots of the parent plant growing just below the soil’s surface.
These offsets provide the fastest and easiest means of propagating succulents.
The young plants also grow faster and have a better chance of surviving than propagation using leaves or stem cuttings.
First, though, you’d have to separate the baby succulents from the mother plant.
The process is quite easy and all you need is a sharp knife and a willingness to stick your fingers in the dirt.
You can always wear gloves though, if you don’t fancy that.
There are just two steps involved when it comes to separating offsets from the main plant:
detaching or cutting the babies from the mother plant and transplanting them (the baby succulents) to a pot filled with potting soil fit for growing succulents.
And the best time to separate baby succulents?
While you can do it at any time, it’s best done in spring which is the beginning of the growing season.
You can also do it when you want to repot the parent plant.
How To Divide Succulent Offsets: Guide
You’ll be shown two ways to separate baby succulents:
- When they are at the base of the parent succulent like in the very popular Haworthia ‘Zebra’
- And when they are growing higher up the stalk as in the Echeveria Black Prince and Echeveria allegra
Most importantly you’ll learn how you can carefully separate them out so you don’t damage the roots to give them the best chance of carrying on
First, you’d want to water the soil to make it easier to remove the succulent pups. This step isn’t necessary if you are repotting the mother succulent.
You’ll need just the matured succulent with several offsets growing.
Steps when repotting:
1. If you are repotting, carefully squeeze the pot and remove the succulent.
If it has become extremely root-bound, it means it is desperate for a pot change.
2. Next, gently pull the roots apart and start untangling them.
Since succulents are very hardy, pulling the roots quite hard wouldn’t harm the prospects of both the parent and baby succulents.
3. As you keep untangling the roots, you’ll notice that you can separate the babies from the top.
4. Gently prise out only babies that are about the size of an adult’s thumb or larger.
That’s at least an inch long.
5. As you firmly pull the babies away from the mother plant, you might feel the stalk breaking with a cracking or popping sound.
This is normal and it’s just part of the process of separation.
6. Try as much as possible to pull out the babies with the root system intact. The pulled-out roots should be healthy and strong.
7. You can pull out as many matured babies as you find. Smaller babies should be left alone as they would do better with the mother plant.
When you are done, simply pop or plant them into a nice potting mix that would favor the growth of succulents.
Then you can cover the soil with your top-dressing to make it look nice
Also, repot the mother plant in a bigger pot and cover the potting soil with your top dressing.
Steps if you are not repotting:
- If you don’t want to repot your succulent as described above (perhaps they are not due for repotting yet), your sharp sterilized knife is the way to go.
- Use your fingers or a small spoon to move the top dressing (if they are present) and potting mix aside to expose the base of the offset.
- Next, use the knife to cut the baby as close to the mother plant as possible.
- Remove the lower leaves (that could also be propagated separately), and allow the offset’s cut tip to callus over before planting it into your preferred potting soil.
This could take at least a couple of days.
Removing Succulent Babies higher up the plant
For baby succulent growing on stem, you need to be careful not to confuse the flowers with the babies.
Telling babies apart from flowers should be easy, though, since the babies look like smaller versions of the mother plant.
- Look for and select babies that are about an inch across. If they are too big, successfully pulling them out with your fingers is almost impossible without damaging the mother plant.
For bigger babies, you would have a use sharp, sterilized knife.
- Start by pulling out the smaller babies if they are blocking the bigger babies.
Use your fingers and gently pull out the smaller pups from the mother plant. If it’s done correctly, they would come off with roots.
These help speed up the process of growing into an independent succulent
- If you can now access the big babies without interference from the smaller ones, use the sharp knife to cut the stalk as close to the mother plant as you can get.
That cut on the mother plant would callus in about a couple of days or more. Remove or trim the leaves lower down the baby’s stem.
Don’t forget that you can also propagate succulents using these leaves.
- Allow the end of the baby’s stalk to callus over too before planting the baby in your potting soil.
- You can use a soft brush to clean off any dirt on the leaves of your succulents.
- If you are separating Echeveria and similar species, you might want to avoid touching the leave to avoid leaving fingerprints on them.
Pull the offsets by grabbing under the stalk under the leaves.
- Keep in mind that for fleshy succulents, it’s rare for the small offsets to come out with roots.
That is not a problem since the stems can grow new roots pretty easily. However, it is common for older babies to come out with roots.
- Ensure you allow the tips of cut stems and stalks on both the parents and babies respectively to callus before watering.
The callus protects them against infections that can lead to diseases.
Succulents mature to produce small clones from underground roots just below the surface of the soil.
Known as succulent babies or offsets, they can be used to propagate succulent plants. Succulent propagation using offsets is a faster and more reliable means of propagation compared to using stem cuttings or leaves.
Fortunately, how to separate baby succulents from the mother plant is not difficult.
With a sharp knife or fingers, the babies can be detached from the mother succulent and planted in a potting to start a new generation of succulents.