Vegetative propagation

Although the only practicable way to propagate a few succulents (Ariocarpus, Astrophytum, Frithia. Euphorbia obesa). is from seed, most lend themselves more or less readily to vegetative multiplication by division (6.20). offsets, suckers, cuttings (6.21), adventitious buds or grafting. Having their own internal water store, they suffer less than most plants from the temporary interruption to water intake. Vegetatively propagated plants have a head start over seedlings, and are

Tap the plant out ol its pot either by banging with a trowel handle as shown, or by inverting and thumping the rim ol the pot on a table edge while supporting the plant.

Screen fresh polling compost through an 8mm ('/¡inJ sieve and put the coarse residue in a clean pot to act as drainage material Compost should be moist, not dust dry genetically identical with their parent. For hybrids that are sterile or do not come true from seed, these are the only means.

To begin, all that is needed is a pan of "cuttings mixture": sifted sharp sand and peat in equal amounts. This should be put in a warm but slightly shaded part of the glasshouse. If extra heat is not available. the warmer months of summer are the best time; with bottom heat one is less dependent on the season. Before planting, a cutting should be left on an airy, light shelf until the wound has sealed itself with a protective callus layer. If set directly in moist soil it would probably start to rot. According to the size of the cut area, three to four days' drying in summer will suffice for most, but longer does no harm, and a degree of wilting predisposes some to root. In autumn or winter it is sometimes best to leave the cuttings until spring before planting. It pays to have patience and avoid rushing things. Many growers recommend dipping the cut surface in hormone rooting powder.

When planting a cutting, it is wise to

Tap the plant out ol its pot either by banging with a trowel handle as shown, or by inverting and thumping the rim ol the pot on a table edge while supporting the plant.

Spread the roots evenly and dribble the soil in, thumping the pot at intervals and using lingers or the trowel handle lo lirm the soil. But do not avoid burying the base too deeply. If the cutting is top-heavy, it should be supported by a small stick or stone so that only the base comes in contact with the rooting medium (6.22). Rooting ability varies widely, even within one genus. Where difficulty is encountered, one should experiment with cuttings of different sizes and taken at different times of the year. Euphorbia, for instance, is more trouble than most cacti and rots if over-watered. One should wash off all traces of the milky, irritant sap and allow ample time forcallusing before inserting it in the rooting medium.

Single leaves of most of the Crassu-laceae will regenerate plants, and so will leaves of some haworthias (those with softer foliage) and most gasterias; aloes and Mesembryanthemaceae hardly ever. But any broken portion of a succulent is worth a try. One of the many delights of the hobby is experimenting to find new ways of raising rarities, so that you have continuous stocks for replacement and sharing. And in the process you will endear yourself to the conservationist.

Tease away weeds and old soil and trim back any dead roots Remove offsets it desired, tor propagation purposes Remove withered leaves or trim back with scissors.

The tinal result: a smart, presentable agave and spare plants to pot up or give to friends Do not lorget to include the label: a name lost may be hard to replace

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