Succulents are commonly propagated from cuttings, offsets, leaves, and division. Growing succulents from seed is an educational and fun way to obtain plants in larger numbers. Some succulents, such as Dudleya, Lithops, Echeveria and Cacti, are only grown from seed because it is the most practical way to propagate them. This is because many succulents do not offset as freely as others. Nurseries also like to offer succulents in smaller sizes. This is why you don't see different succulents in 2" pots or if you do, they may be more expensive because they are grown from seed.
Growing succulents from seed is a rewarding and fun way to learn about the entire life cycle of a plant. The first step in this process is obtaining seed. Many succulent seed sources online are not reputable and can be hard to find. The best way to know what you're getting is by collecting seed from your own collection.
The ability to collect seeds depends on the maturity and cross-pollination of your mother plant. If you have a young plant, it may take a few years for the plant to flower. Aeonium, Greenovia, and Agave are all monocarpic genera; meaning the rosette will flower once in its life time and it may take longer to be able to harvest seed from. Aeonium are fast-growers and will eventually flower annually, off of different offsets, once established in the garden.
Many succulents need to be cross-pollinated, which means there needs to pollen transferred from one plant to another of the same species. If you do not see pollinators visiting your plants, or your collection is in an enclosed space that does not give access to pollinators, you will need to use a small paintbrush and pollinate them yourself. Note: Succulents that are genetically identical (cuttings from the same plant) will not produce viable seed. You will be able to tell pollination has occurred when the fruit starts to swell and become ripe.
How to Collect:
To achieve the highest viability, seed capsules should be fully ripe and dry before collecting. Some fruits will split open and disperse on their own, such as Aloe spp. In this case it is important to collect when the seed capsule is dry/ brown, but before the seeds fall on the ground or get blown away. Set a plate or tray under the flower stalk or use a small net or sock to capture them.
Pictured above: An unripe Glottiphyllum nellii fruit is green (left). A dry, brown, and hard seed capsule that is ready to be harvested (right).
For microscopic seeds such as Aeonium, Dudleya, Echeveria, place a paper bag over the inflorescence, cut the stalk, and turn the bag upside down in order to collect without losing seed to the wind.
DO NOT ever collect seed from native habitats. This is considered poaching unless you have a permit and punishable by law.
Pictured above: Aeonium 'Ballerina' seed not ready to be harvested (left) and Aeonium 'Thundercloud' seed ready to be harvested and planted (right).
How to Process Seeds:
Seeds can easily be processed by breaking open the capsules by hand. Smaller seeds can be processed by using a small grinder to separate the seed from the capsules and then sifting the seeds from the chaff with a mesh strainer. Hard seed capsules such as Mesembs (Lithops, Glottiphyllum, etc.) can be removed by placing the seeds in a Ziploc or paper bag, beaten with a hammer, and then removed by hand.
Note: Always process seed indoors because a gust of wind can quickly blow them away.
How to Store Seeds:
Store seeds in paper bags or seed packets in dry, protected areas. Humidity and heat will reduce viability dramatically. If you plan to store seeds in plastic bags, be sure the seeds are completely dry. If seeds are harvested prematurely, the excess moisture will cause seeds to rot in glass or plastic. Label your package with the species name, date collected, and location. Seeds can be saved for years and stay viable when stored correctly.
Collecting and growing from your own seed is a sustainable way to grow many plants. Through genetic diversity, you will find many variations of foliage color and shape. This is where the real fun begins and you might even be able to name a special selection of your own.
Summer is quickly approaching at Succulent Gardens and our succulents are starting to color-up with rising temperatures.
Here's a quick look at our current favorite crops at the nursery.
Echeveria agavoides 'Lipstick' and Kalanchoe luciae are bright red in a full-sun container garden.
Echeveria pulvinata now available in 2 gallon pots. When placed in full sun, "Chenille Plant", turns burgundy-red with bright orange flowers.
Senecio vitalis 'Mermaid Tail' available in 5 gallon pots. 'Mermaid Tail' is the crested form of Senecio vitalis and is widely sought after.
Mangave 'Tooth Fairy' available in 2 gallon pots. The spines or "teeth" on this cultivar vary in color from yellow to purple to orange.
Crassula pellucida ssp. marginalis 'Variegata' available in 6" pots. A bright pink, and variegated hanging plant or groundcover that turns hot pink in sun.
Aeonium 'Lily Pad' available in 2" pots. This cultivar is named for having very flat rosettes. We love these chunky leaves.
We are bringing in new crops weekly, so be sure to stop by the nursery to pick out something new. We are open everyday from 9am-3pm and hope to see you soon.
Succulents can be enjoyed in many creative ways, and perhaps the most uncomplicated and enjoyable is taking cuttings from the landscape to make floral arrangements for the home. Don't limit yourself to rosettes--using leaves and flower buds can be an unexpected and exquisite addition to floral arrangements. In addition, designing arrangements with unconventional materials expands the appreciation for multiple uses of landscape plants.
I encourage you to create a floral arrangement with succulent leaves, flowers, and cuttings from the garden inspired by the designs made at the nursery, shown below.
Small arrangements can be clustered on an outdoor table while entertaining. Guests won't be able to help but comment on the playful shapes and colors.
Tillandsia xerographica leaves add a whimsical element and are neutral with many color palettes.
An Aeonium inflorescence, prior to fully opening, offers captivating texture.
Aeonium 'Blushing Beauty' mimics a red rose in this arrangement but will last much longer than traditional flowers.
Agave attentuata leaves line the inside of a larger vase to tastefully cover the stems and creates an additional texture. A leggy Delosperma nubigenum serves as a charming, cascading element.
Fuzzy Kalanchoe beharensis foliage balances the proportion of the large Aloe striata inflorescence and adds a soft texture to touch. Aloe arborescens variegata leaves become a spiky and curly filler.
Happy designing! ~Allana
Propagating succulents can be the most rewarding part of having a collection.
Propagating your plants allows you to create more of a desirable plant for your garden, share plants with friends, and save a dying plant. Here's our ten easiest succulents to propagate for beginners.
Loved for the vibrant neon-purple foliage, this Echeveria is one of the easiest to propagate by leaf and tip cutting. Check out those hot pink roots!
Turns bright red in full sun or green in shade. This hardy Sedum fills out container gardens and rock gardens quickly. Twist off the leaves and lay down on moist, well-draining soil.
One of the most successful Echeveria grown from leaf. Beginners and long-time collectors love the perfectly round rosette and iridescent, pearly pink foliage. They sprout quickly and have high numbers of successful propagation by leaves.
Tough in warm, sunny climates with low water. Propagates easily by leaf or tip cuttings. Wait for a scab to form (around one week) before planting in soil. This species has many variations in color and leaf form.
An intergeneric hybrid of Graptopetalum amethystinum x Echeveria sp. Propagates readily from leaves. It's always fun to watch their hot pink roots form.
A beautiful hanging rosette succulent that turns orange, bronze, pink, and purple in different conditions. It is very easily propagated by leaves--you may even find one sprouting without your help.
A hanging succulent that can reach up to 6' long strands. Leaves tend to fall off easily from stems because they are propagated this way in nature.
Slow to start, but worth the wait. Echeveria colorata produces beautiful leaf sprouts with red tips from the beginning. Wait until the mother leaf completely dies before removing from the new plant.
Echeveria lilacina is a succulent we often find propagating itself. Leaves tend to curl up quickly which you can fix by planting leaves gently in soil with roots down and leaf up.
Succulents have become increasingly sought-after because they are accessible for the beginning plant enthusiast. They are low-maintenance, colorful, and easy to use in projects. Did you know you can further deepen your experience with plants by creating an intentional mindset to de-stress and focus while gardening? Learn how to achieve the full benefits of gardening by connecting with loved ones, getting outside (even if you don't have a garden space of your own), practicing acceptance, and staying present.
Having niche interests helps us to connect with others on a deeper level. We can gain stronger relationships with others by having similar specialized interests. It also encourages us to be more inclined to educate ourselves further, because we have someone we know we can share it with.How to Counteract Social Isolation
-Send a gift to a succulent lover in your life. COVID-19 has made it difficult to visit to travel and spend time with friends and family. Send a thoughtful gift to show that you're thinking about them.
-Join an online succulent community. Social media has given us the ability to connect with plant people all over the world. Share pictures of your garden, partake in succulent ID conversation, and learn tips from new garden friends.
-Garden with your children. Succulents are not just for adults, kids are mesmerized by different colors and textures when they come into the nursery and are excited to take home a living plant to care for. It is always inspiring to see their enthusiasm and eagerness to be with nature.
Working from home has changed our daily lifestyles. Some of us no longer need to leave the house every day to commute to work. Checking in on our plants gives a rewarding reason to get out of the house and get some fresh air.
If You Don’t Have Your Own Outdoor Space:
-Walk around your neighborhood. A walk around the block at golden hour can be a magical experience (and free!). Keep an eye out to see which plants are visited by pollinators and quiz your plant identification knowledge. Note how the landscapes change throughout the seasons and acknowledge succulents that thrive in your area.
-Visit an arboretum or botanical garden. Botanical gardens have landscapes that have been established for many years, which allows seeing succulents at full maturity. Botanical gardens are also commonly grouped by geographical area to show natural plant relationships. This expands our awareness of how plants grow beyond the 4" pot. Bring a camera and take pictures of landscapes that inspire you.
Gardening can be a sacred activity where we bring our minds to focus without distractions. Being present helps us to listen to our plants and give them the attention they need while receiving the benefits of mindfulness.
An easy way to start is by observing your surroundings. For example:
-Try to observe how many hours your patio gets direct sunlight throughout the day.
-Can you observe any new blooms that are forming on your succulents?
-Listen for garden sounds. Can you hear grass moving? Bees buzzing or birds singing?
At Home Tip: Creating a division in living spaces in your home helps to differentiate work and downtime. This can be a small apartment balcony with container gardens or a corner in your living room filled with indoor plants. Leave the phone out of sight to get a tech break.
Activities for Slowing Down:
Gardening with succulents has the potential to be a meaningful activity to create positive change in our daily lives. With small steps toward slowing down, caring for plants can be a therapeutic experience for ourselves and to share with others. I hope that you can incorporate some of these changes to make your succulent gardening a more gratifying experience.
Succulents are coveted for their year-round interesting foliage color. Unlike many other plants, you don't have to wait for flowers to see bright colors fill the landscape. Succulents come in every color of the rainbow--making it easy to design a color-rich landscape.
It is important to note that succulents bring out their most vibrant colors when they are in the appropriate environment. Succulents are happiest in coastal full-sun, protected from direct afternoon sun in-land. If your plants are not showing vibrant colors, it's time to move them into more sunlight.
Learn how to pair the plants you love with our succulent color guide. Listed below are our favorite succulents categorized by color. We’ve included not only foliage color, but spectacular blooms as well.
Aeonium ‘Sunburst’ is always the star in a container garden.
The yellow spines on Echinocactus grusonii is a great match for the bright yellow foliage on Aeonium ‘Kiwi’
Combine the soft foliage of Agave attenuata variegata and sharp-toothed margins of Aloe arborescens variegata
Aloe deltoideodonta blooms coral-orange flowers that attract hummingbirds in winter.
Sedum nussbaumerianum comes in many different tones of orange.
Aloe vanbalenii and Aloe juvenna are a muted orange-brown in full summer sun.
Aeonium 'Blushing Beauty' turns bright red in late Spring-Fall.
Crassula nudicaulis var. platyphylla 'Burgundy' is bright red in Summer.
Aloe cameronii has bright burgundy foliage in Summer.
Both Echeveria minima and Crassula conjuncta have blue foliage and red margins. This pair has almost identical coloring but maintains interest with different textures.
Echeveria agavoides 'Lipstick' is named for its bright red leaf margins that appear in full sun.
Aeonium ‘Blushing Beauty’
Crassula nudicaulis var. platyphylla ‘Burgundy’
Crassula coccinea ‘Campfire’
Crassula ovata var. compacta
Echeveria agavoides ‘Lipstick’
Mangave 'Purple People Eater' and 'Freckles and Speckles' are a great lavender addition for container gardens.
Senecio jacobsenii becomes bright purple in full coastal shade. Sedum adolphii complements this perfectly, as yellow is the opposite color of purple on the color wheel.
Echeveria ‘Giant Blue’ becomes blue in the center of the rosette at maturity.
Senecio 'Skyscraper' and Agave attenuata 'Nova' are the perfect cool blue pair.
Echeveria 'Boe Kari' and Echeveria 'Blue Prince'
Aeonium undulatum provides a ruffled texture with undulating foliage.
Aeonium tabuliforme (Dinner Plate Aeonium) has a flat rosette and velvety soft foliage.
Crassula lactea offers sweet, white star-shaped flowers that attract many pollinators in the garden.
Sempervivum 'Spring Beauty', 'Forest Frost', 'Jade Rose Bud' and 'Pluto' offer texture while staying compact in rock gardens.Aeonium canariense
Sedum rubrotinctum ‘Aurora’ and Echeveria ‘Lola’ are an adorable pink pair.
Crassula perforata variegata turns various shades of pink when stressed
Echeveria secunda 'Clara' provides a halo of hot pink flowers.Crassula pellucida ssp. marginalis variegata
Kalanchoe orgyalis (Copper Spoons) offers a soft, rust foliage which looks great with purple plants such as Mangave 'Lavender Lady'.
Lithops spp. mimic the brown rocks and becomes an eye-catching container garden.
Even spine color can be used in design. Mammilaria spinosissimaEcheveria ‘Brown Rose’
To see our current plant availability, please visit the nursery or call 831-632-0482.
Succulents are typically grown for their year-round vibrant colors and interesting textures, but their flowers can provide seasonal interest as well! With a little planning, you can enjoy year-round blooms in the succulent landscape by choosing plants for their flowering time. The key is diversity in general.