During the growing season, some succulents produce lovely flowers or grow taller, stretching out beyond their pots as they mature. Others produce tiny versions of themselves called offshoots. Just like polycarpic, flowering succulents, succulents that produce from offshoots reproduce through these little clones each year during their growing season.
Offshoots can spread quickly and are great for groundcover or propagating to give to friends! Here is everything you’ll need to know about succulent offshoots and how to make the most of them.
What Are Offshoots?
Most commonly known as “pups,” offshoots are one of the many ways plants reproduce. As an asexual form of reproduction, offshoots don’t require any sort of pollination to appear. Instead, they just need a happy mother plant and enough room to grow. In succulents, seeing pups is a sure sign that your succulent is happy and healthy. If you see a few babies around your succulent, you’ve done a great job!
Seeing pups is a sure sign that your succulent is happy and healthy.
Many monocarpic plants reproduce via offshoots, filling the place where the mother plant once sat. The decaying mother plant acts as food for the offshoots and will help them grow and reproduce further. Succulents tend to produce offshoots when they are alive and well to spread out, giving the plant more space to grow, nutrients, and sunlight overall. Some succulents may also spread to prevent lethal damage from wild animals looking for a snack.
Offshoots appear on succulent stems or in the ground next to their mother plant. They look like smaller versions of the succulent they come from.
Types of Succulents that Reproduce via Offshoots
Tons of succulents reproduce via offshoots, most of which are monocarpic and die after flowering. However, not all offshoot-producing succulents are monocarpic. Offshoots are their way of reproducing while alive. Popular succulents that use offshoots include:
- All Sempervivum succulents
- Aloe, Agave, and Haworthia succulents
- Echeveria Succulents
- Graptoveria Succulents
- Snake Plants
- Lithops Living Stones
- Crassula Succulents
- Sedum Succulents
- “Mother of” succulents, including the Mother of Millions and Mother of Thousands
Using Offshoots to Propagate Succulents
Propagating with offshoots is one of the easiest ways to grow new succulents and to propagate them in general. Although not all succulents reproduce via offshoots, offshoot-producing succulents typically make excellent starter plants for any plant parent looking to get into propagation.
What You’ll Need
To properly propagate an offshoot, you’ll need several tools and items at your disposal:
- A clean, sharp pair of scissors or a knife to remove your offshoot.
- Gardening gloves, to either protect the skin from plant sap or to protect your succulent’s farina layer.
- A new pot for your pups.
- Fresh potting soil, preferably the same mix as your mother plant’s.
- Coconut coir to help retain a bit of moisture.
Making the Cut (Safely)
Some succulents produce offshoots around the mother plant’s base, others produce offshoots along the stems, and others still produce offshoots from lateral roots. Removing these offshoots is a great way to prepare for propagation or prune your succulent to keep it from growing too large. Like any prunings, avoid removing offshoots until the growing season.
To safely remove root offshoots, wait until the pups begin to develop their own root systems. Then, they should be large enough to remove. Using a clean, sharp pair of scissors, remove the pup from the mother plant’s root system, and give the pup and the mother plant a day or so to callous over. For stem and base offshoots, wait until your pup is about one inch big. Then, you can cut it off with a clean, sharp knife. As usual, give the mother plant and your offshoot a day to callous over before planting or repotting.
Photo by cottonbro
Don't worry about waiting if you aren’t looking to propagate these pups. Instead, trim them off as cleanly as possible and toss them in the compost bin to decompose.
Once you have your calloused cutting, place it in its own pot with fresh soil. To ensure your pup is properly planted, hold your rooted offshoot just above the surface of the soil so the tips of the roots touch your soil base. Then, surround the roots with soil until your succulent pup is fully planted.
Succulent offshoots that don’t produce via lateral roots may need more help to start rooting before you plant them. For these offshoots, spread your calloused succulent pups in a bit of rooting hormone to promote root growth. Then, treat them like a leaf cutting: mist the offshoots and keep your soil moist to encourage roots to grow.
How to Grow Succulent Offshoots
Once you’ve potted your baby succulent, it’ll need more care to ensure it grows properly. Baby succulents need a little more sun and moisture to grow– mist your newly-painted pup about once a week to keep the soil moist. Adding a thin layer of coir over your soil can help further retain moisture. Baby succulents need more light to grow but are very sensitive to direct sunlight. To ensure they get enough sun, keep them somewhere they’ll receive bright, indirect sunlight for about 8 hours a day.
Watch the video below (and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more great videos) to see how to grow & propagate succulent offshoots:
See more about How to Create a Succulent Propagation Mandala
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