Fall is the time of the year when succulent babies often make an appearance. These miniature versions of adults succulents give you a wonderful (and free!) opportunity to increase your collection.
These tiny plants, or offsets, are the offspring of mature succulent plants. They’re essentially little replicas of the parent plant, and you often find them growing at the base of the plant or along the stems.
These little additions to your garden inherit the same characteristics that makes their parent plants so loved. Keep reading to find out more about succulent babies and how to put them to use as new plants.
I let my succulents enjoy the summer weather outdoors, but fall is the time of year when they all come back into my home. Before I bring them indoors, I give each plant a thorough inspection to make sure I don’t bring in any unwanted pests, such as mealybugs or spider mites.
During this inspection time, I often discover tiny replicas of the mother plants. If you also find a baby succulent growing on stems of your succulent plants, you will know that you have done a good job caring for the mother plant!
This tray is full of babies that I removed from the mother plants earlier this summer. They have grown so much!
How do succulent babies grow?
Usually, succulent babies start as small, often rosette-shaped shoots near the base of the parent plant. As they mature, they develop their own root system, which enables them to be able to grow independently.
Offshoots are an asexual form of reproduction, so they don’t require any sort of pollination to grow.
Some succulent species, such as hens and chicks, produce pups more readily than others, but many varieties of succulents will produce them at some point.
A few types will send out stems with pups growing on the ends. Others grow clumps on the sides of the plants and these clumps will multiply if they are left and not divided.
Sometimes babies will grow under the leaves of the plant and you might not even notice them until they’ve grown larger.
Other names for succulent babies
Succulent offsets are referred to by various other names – some of these terms include:
- Pups: This is one of the most common and widely used terms for succulent offsets, particularly when the babies are small and resemble miniature versions of the parent plant.
- Offshoots: This term implies that the babies are shoots or growths emerging from the parent plant.
- Side Shoots: This term emphasizes that the babies are growing from the sides of the parent plant, typically near the base or along the stems.
- Suckers: While this term is more commonly associated with certain types of plants, it can also be used to describe succulent babies, particularly when they grow from the base or root area of the parent plant.
- Chicks – This term is mainly used for Sempervivum, since their common name is “hens and chicks.”
A few other terms are clones, proliferations and propagules.
When do succulent babies grow?
Succulents can produce babies at various times of the year, depending on the species and environmental conditions. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, I usually notice offsets when succulents are in their active growing phase.
For most of them, this will be in the spring and summer months. A few send out babies in fall and winter. Some, such as sempervivum, (hens and chicks) will produce pups year round.
Often, the babies grow after the succulents have flowered. This is because blooming is energy-intensive for the plant and producing offsets allows the plant to propagate itself.
Some succulents may take a few years to reach maturity before they start producing pups. Young plants often focus on growing a strong root system and establishing themselves before investing energy into reproduction.
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Popular succulents that produce babies
Many succulents are known for producing pups, making them excellent choices for those who want to expand their collections. Here are some popular succulents that are known to produce lots of babies:
- Sempervivum – This type is the most famous pup-producing succulent. These rosette-shaped succulents produce numerous offsets around the mother plant, resembling a hen with her chicks.
- Aloe – These plants produce offsets around the base of the plant. These offsets can be separated and potted up to create new aloe plants.
- Agave – This plant produces pups, a process called “pupping.” These offsets grow at the base of the main plant and can be carefully separated for propagation.
- Haworthia – They are known for their offsets, which form around the base of the plant. They often grow in clusters, creating an appealing arrangement.
- Echeveria – These babies will grow at the base of the main rosette. The offsets can be easily separated and grown into new plants.
- Gasteria – This type often produce offsets from the base of the plant, creating attractive clumps.
- Lithops – Also known as “living stones,” their babies grow after flowering. The plant may begin to divide, forming new pairs of leaves between the existing ones. These new pairs of leaves are essentially “pups” or “baby lithops.”
- Crassula ovata – Jade plants are known to produce offsets as they mature. These can be removed and potted as new plants.
- Sedum – These cold hardy succulents produce offsets, most often at the base of the plant. These offsets can be used for propagation.
- Mother of Thousands – As the name suggests, their babies are prolific! This succulent produces plantlets along the edges of its leaves. These tiny plants can be separated and potted to grow independently.
With the exception of Sempervivums, most offsets will be found near the base of the plant near the soil.
Sempervivums send out babies differently. These offsets are often attached by a stolon and may extend out from the mother plant. The stolon sends nutrients to the babies, known as “chicks“.
There can be as many as 8 new babies that form around a mother Sempervivum. (I have also seen many of my sempervivum with chicks closely attached to the mother, so it varies with type.)
Propagating succulent babies
Offshoots of succulents can spread quickly, and just like their leaves, are great for propagating to give you (and your friends) more plants!
Although not all succulents reproduce by way of offshoots, those that do will make excellent starter plants for anyone new to succulent gardening. The babies will develop into mature plants much more quickly than plants grown from succulent leaves.
Let’s learn how to grow the babies into adult plants!
Materials needed for propagating the babies
- Succulent babies (offsets or pups)
- A small pot or container with drainage holes
- Well-draining succulent potting mix
- A trowel or spoon for planting
It is possible to grow even very small succulent babies. However, I recommend waiting until the offsets are about one-third to one-half the size of the mother plant before you try to remove them.
Doing this ensures that your babies will have the best chance for life on their own. The pups should be large enough to handle without causing damage to their small root systems.
- Prepare the pot – Select a small pot or container with a small hole in the bottom to ensure that the soil drains well. Fill it with a well-draining succulent potting mix.
- Remove excess soil – Take care when separating succulent babies. Gently remove the offset or pup from its parent plant by tugging or prying it away. Try to maintain some roots as you remove the pup. You may need to use a small trowel or spoon to help lift it if it is firmly attached. Try not to damage the roots or the baby itself during this process.
- Let it callous – If the cut end of the offset is moist, allow it to air dry for a day or two. This callousing helps prevent rotting when you plant it.
- Plant the baby– Once the offset has calloused over, plant it in the prepared potting mix. Make a small hole in the soil with your finger or a stick and place the offset in the hole. Bury it just deep enough to support its weight. Ensure the roots or base of the offset are in contact with the soil.
- Water sparingly – Water the newly planted baby lightly. Be sure not to overwater; succulents are susceptible to rot if their roots stay too wet. Wait for the soil to dry out before watering again.
- Baby succulent care instructions – Provide bright indirect sunlight until the baby has established roots. (This can take weeks.) Then move to a brighter location and water as normal.
Some succulent species may benefit from the use of rooting hormone on the cut end to encourage root development. Dip the calloused end of the offset in rooting powder before planting.
Propagation success can vary depending on the species and environmental conditions, so patience is key. With proper care and time, your succulent baby will grow into a healthy, mature plant.
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- Succulent babies (offsets or pups)
- A small pot or container with drainage holes
- Well draining succulent potting mix
- Spoon for planting
- Watering can
- Choose a small pot with drainage holes.
- Fill it with well draining succulent potting mix.
- Carefully remove the offset or pup from the parent plant. Try not to damage any roots present.
- If the end of the offset is moist, allow it to callous over for a day or to. This prevents rotting.
- Plant the baby in the potting mix once it has calloused over.
- Ensure the roots of the offset make contact with the soil.
- Water lightly and allow the soil to dry out before watering again.
- Place the baby succulent in bright indirect sunlight until it has established roots. (This can take weeks.)
- Move to a more sunny location, once the plant is established.