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Succulents are unique, beautiful plants, and caring for them can be a relaxing experience. For some, succulent arrangements are an excellent tool for inspiring creativity in the garden or the home. So, let’s take this concept a step further with succulent mandalas: these propagation patterns act much like a traditional succulent arrangement but have a much deeper meaning.
The mandala is defined as a circular pattern and is most well-known in tantric Buddhist and Hindu cultures. However, the mandala is also seen in Chinese, Tibetian, and Japanese cultures as well– all three nations have large Buddhist populations.
According to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, the mandala itself represents the universe, and from a religious standpoint, it acts as a sacred space designed to receive gods and universal forces. In Chinese, Tibetian, and Japanese Buddhism, the mandala represents two aspects of the universe: the first aspect, known as the “womb world,” represents movement from the individual to the many. The second aspect translated to “diamond” or “thunderbolt world,” represents the movement from the many to the one.
Recently, the mandala has made its way outside of the Buddhist and Hindu world and into contemporary meditation practices. Initially, an individual meditates with the mandala by focusing on it, mentally “entering” it, and proceeding toward the center of the pattern.
Today, this practice doesn’t necessarily have to involve religion. The practice of mindfulness is a psychological movement within Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. Meditating using a mandala– focusing on the big picture and moving inward– is another popular way of practicing mindfulness meditation.
So, why should you make a succulent propagation mandala? It’s relaxing. Gardening is a mindful practice, and combining it with mandala creation is a way to turn your garden into a relaxing experience. Creating propagation mandalas is a great way to beautifully and creatively organize your succulent cuttings to make a unique piece of living artwork.
To make your own succulent mandala, there are several things you’ll need:
Before you begin to take your cuttings and make the mandala in your pot, we recommend planning out what you want your mandala to look like on paper. This way, you won’t have to worry about moving around succulent leaves once you place them (especially if you’re using a natural rooting hormone). Since you’ll be working with a pot and three-dimensional objects, remember that your planned layout might look simpler than the finished product. Don’t overdo it!
Now that you’ve got your mandala planned out and all your supplies, let’s begin:
First, you’ll need to take your clean pot and find someplace with bright, indirect sunlight to keep it. While your pot doesn’t necessarily need to be deep, it should be large enough to hold many cuttings at once– that way, there will be plenty of room to make your pattern. If you’re having trouble finding the right pot, try poking some drainage holes into a disposable pie plate from a grocery store.
When you fill your container, be sure to use well-draining succulent soil or cactus mix. The succulents you choose to propagate should all need similar soil quality, like members of a specific succulent family (like Echeveria or Aeonium) or a hardy, adaptable species (like the Haworthia Zebra).
Now that you’ve got your dirt in your pot, it’s time to mark out the skeleton of your mandala. Using your colored stones, mark out the key points in your pattern, and use your fingers to make small indentations in the soil to plan out where you’ll place your cuttings. The less you handle your cuttings, the less likely their farina layer will get damaged from oils on your skin. If you have a paper blueprint for your design plan, now is the time to put it to work.
There isn’t anything special you’ll need to do to make your cuttings. Like you normally would, use a pair of clean, sharp scissors or a knife to trim away succulent leaves at the node. You can use fallen, healthy leaves for propagating as well. After making your cuttings, let them dry and callous over for a day or so before dipping them in your rooting hormone and placing them in your soil. If you’d like to save some time, do this step first and prepare your pot while the cuttings dry.
It’s time to place your cuttings. To place a succulent cutting in soil, lay it on top of the soil and cover the cut end with a tiny bit of dirt. When you place your cuttings, put them in any pattern you like! Your mandala skeleton and marker stones will help you build that perfect circle.
To take care of your mandala, follow the same steps you would for taking care of any succulent cutting. Mist the soil frequently to keep it moist, and avoid placing your container in bright, direct sunlight. After a couple of weeks, you’ll start to see some root growth, and healthy roots will appear pink or white.