Note: this article originally appeared in a slightly extended version on a garden blog for Garden America. It is an informative blog that most gardeners should find interesting as well as helpful. The link to the Garden America site (well worth exploring!) is www.gardenamerica.com.

Many gardeners enjoy growing easy-care succulents. But they can sometimes become a bit too 'grown out' and then it is time to clean them up, cut them back or take cuttings. This article provides the whole story....have fun!!

Are your overgrown succulents, climbing and stretching out of their containers or spreading their leggy heads in the garden? If so, follow these simple propagating tips to keep them compact and to “spread” more of them around! 

Stem Cutting:

•    Since pruning sheers tend to crush the plant tissues, use a sharp knife or razor blade to make a clean cut. Sterilize the knife or razor with alcohol to remove the stretched succulent or a stem from the parent plant

•    SECRET ALERT! - Dip the cut ends in cinnamon as a disease preventative

•    Place the cutting in a shaded, protected area and allow the exposed cut to callus over for 7-10 days without water

•    Plant the callused end into a cactus mix, horticultural sand or perlite medium and water immediately

•    Do not water again until the soil begins to dry out

•    Stake taller cuttings until they root 

•    After several weeks, the cutting can be transplanted into a larger container, but make sure the size of the container is proportionate to the size of the root system – do not put in a container that is too large

Leaf Cutting:

•    Many succulents such as Crassula, Echeveria, Gasteria, Graptopetalum, Haworthia, Kalanchoe, Sansevieria and Sedum are also easily propagated by leaf cuttings and just like stem cuttings, leaf cuttings are best done during the active growth season

•    Cut and callus the leaves just like the stem cutting, but it only takes 3 days for the leaf cutting to callus over. Don’t forget to dip the freshly cut end in cinammon

•    Barely push the cut leaf tip into the planting medium for the root formation to begin

•    To propagate small leaves such as sedums, simply scatter over the surface of the moistened cactus, sand or perlite medium 

•    Once a new plant has begin to form, use the old leaf as a handle to gently remove the baby plant into a new pot

Plantlets and Offsets:

•    There are several cacti and succulents that form “babies” or offsets that develop around the “mother” plant such as Agave, Aloe, Echinopsis, Kalanchoe, Mammilaria and Sansevieria.

•    Remove these “newbies” by gently twisting them away from the mother and repot

•    If the offsets are close to the ground, they normally have developed root systems and can be re-potted directly, but sprinkle cinnamon on the roots as a disease preventative

•    When Sansevierias and Agaves spread by underground lateral shoots and form new plants, sever them from the main plant, sprinkle the cut end with cinnamon, allow to callus over and replant in a well draining cactus medium to produce an independent plant

•    Some Kalanchoe species produce small plantlets with juvenile roots on their leaf edges and can be easily detached for more starters

•    Although Agave and Furcraea take years to mature and finally flower before they die, but not before plantlets form on the old flower stalks that will re-root to become new plants



Summer Food in Wintry February


16 Popular Foods You Didn’t Know You Could Freeze

1. Garlic – You can freeze whole garlic, garlic cloves or chopped fresh garlic. Frozen garlic does lose some of its texture, but the flavor remains intact.

2. Corn – You can freeze fresh-picked corn on the cob for up to one year. Pack it in freezer bags — husk and silk and all. For store-bought corn, husk and blanch it before freezing.

3. Avocados – The bad news is that frozen avocados lose their consistency. The good news is that they do not lose their taste, so you can use them for guacamole or dressing. Wash and halve them before peeling. Freeze as halves, or puree them with lime or lemon juice and then store for up to eight months.

4. Mushrooms — You can freeze raw button, creminis and portabellas mushrooms for later use. Chop and slice mushrooms and then spread them on a cookie sheet. Freeze. Then transfer the pieces to bags or containers.

5. Onion – You can save chopping time – and tears – by freezing onion for cooking later. Store peeled, chopped onion in plastic freezer bags. The best part is you can just toss them into your recipes without thawing them first.

6. Hummus – Scoop your fresh hummus into plastic containers. Then drizzle a thin layer of olive oil on the top to keep it from drying out. Thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before mixing and serving.

more such winter gardening from Off the Grid News