Growing succulents is super easy. You can literally break a leaf off the right plant, leave it on the dirt and a month later there is a plant growing!
Starting a succulent nursery at home is a great little project for kids to get involved with because it is so easy, they grow quickly, and the success rate is high. There is very little preparation or care required. Mind you, don’t believe the hype; succulents love a good water so keep them hydrated twice a week with a quick sprinkle. A good tip is watering when the soil is dry, it will help them to grow really fast.
Make sure you have well-draining soil as succulents hate having their feet wet. You can buy special cactus soil, but any free draining variety should be fine. In summer I put a small layer of mulch on top to prevent evaporation happening too quickly. Mine are in full sun for a few hours a day, they need good sunlight but it can be indirect if you have them inside.
This blue pot is where all my babies grow until they take over and I have to give them their own pot to grow in. I was given this pot with some herbs in it, which was a complete disaster, so I am very happy with my current crop of plants.
You could use any container as a succulent nursery - a bucket, Tupperware container, a shell pool if you wanted to get really serious, or even a spot in your garden (although watch out - some of these plants will grow very big if left to their own devices). Almost all succulents I have in my pot have been ‘borrowed’ from other garden beds. You usually only need a tiny stick or even a leaf to get started - this is called a cutting, probably because you should be cutting them from the mother plants, however with my opportunistic succulent gathering ways I have no time for scissors!
Once you have your cutting pop it on top of the soil for a week.
Picture 1 below: Most Echeveria succulents will sprout if left on top of the soil.
Picture 2 below: I have had moderate success with sprouting from my jellybean plant, Sedum rubrotinctum, as well. Here you can see tiny shoots growing from the end of the leaf.
I have found the really fleshy succulents, especially the ones with broad leaves, will happily grow from their position on top of the dirt, they just sprout a little root and set off – which is a really fun process to watch. Some of the ones I have left to grow on top of the soil have even sprouted flamboyant little growths along the edges, which I love.
Others, with actual stems will need to be planted in the ground after drying out for a week. I literally just plug them in, give them a quick water and let them go.
Now is a great time to start a succulent garden. Get creative with what you pot them in, op shops can be great places to source interesting vessels. Here are some I keep on my desk, planted in small vases and a pencil holder. I added a beautiful silver feather I found, just because. Get creative and pick natural elements that will suit the décor of the home or office they will live in.
Because they are so small and the containers don’t have holes in the bottom, I only give them a drop or two of water a day so they don’t get water logged. This does mean they won’t grow too fast, which is great for the small pots. Deep dishes are great, I think shallow dishes without drainage will have problems with water pooling in them so avoid these.
What a great project to get started in the garden! Free plants and an easy way to encourage children (and adults) to love gardening.
Below are some other examples of containers I have used for potting succulents around the house. The long tendril species is Senecio rowleyanusor or String of Pearls and is a favourite of mine. You can pinch the tendrils off and plant them in soil or water and they just flourish.