Plant reproduction is a fascinating topic to cover as most plants have several ways in which they can produce offspring. It varies from the normal process of creating seeds to basic cloning techniques. Each comes with it’s ups and downs when you are trying to reproduce them, so today we will look at the methods individually and briefly cover them. In later articles, we will focus on each propagation method individually as there’s a lot to cover.
Seed propagation is probably what you’ll think of first when you think of reproducing your plants. While some species are easy to propagate via seeds, you will find that most succulents/cacti are difficult to reproduce through seed propagation.
However, assuming success this will allow you to mix traits between multiple plants of the same species (in some cases you can pollinate cross species, but that’s a different topic altogether). Using this method will allow you to potentially improve some of the traits. Some seeds have specific requirements in order to successfully germinate the seed, which can be tedious in itself.
For succulents/cacti, I wouldn’t recommend this method for a beginner. Even if you were to buy the seeds, this process would be difficult with potentially low germination rates. This is primarily due to the specific conditions the seeds will need to germinate.
Another popular method for propagation is stem cuttings. This is where you cut a branch from the parent plant and plant the branch in another location. After a while, the plant can form its own root system.
This method will put strain on the cutting as it needs to generate a new root system, but this technique tends to work with a lot of species so it’s well known.
The upside to this method is the genetic makeup of the new plant will be identical to the parent plant. The method also allows you to easily mass produce offspring as all you need is a couple of inches for the cutting, and you can have an entirely new plant.
Layering is a technique which works on crawling species of plants. The intent here is to get a branch to develop roots before cutting it from the parent. There’s various ways to do this, but the simplest method is to bury a part of the branch. Overtime, the buried part of the branch should develop roots, and when it has a sufficient root system you can remove it from the parent.
Since this method keeps the offspring attached to the parent for as long as possible while the roots are forming, this method is fairly easy and not as stressful on the offspring as other methods will be. However, not all species are capable of using this method.
Division is a technique used on species that tend to clump and/or rhizome. These species allow you to divide them into smaller clumps that will thrive on their own.
This technique allows the offspring to naturally grow with the parent’s help, and is an excellent way to produce offspring if the species allows. In the image above, the clump to the left could be separated from the larger plant. When removing, you must be careful to include roots if it has it.
Leaf propagation is as it sounds, propagation by tearing off a leaf and letting it sit. The leaf will eventually grow a new plant (sometimes multiple). Again, not all species can use this method of propagation. When pulling the leaf off it is important that the leaf is torn from the leaf stalk and is not broken.
This method will produce offspring that are identical in genetic makeup to its parent. However, it will require the new plant to grow roots and the leafstalk. With that, it tends to be similar to a seed when it produces the offspring as it takes some time to get a rooted plant.