As a plant parent to succulents, it is likely that you will be worried to see their broken leaves and wonder if anything at all can be done with these broken succulent leaves. There could be many reasons why a succulent may have a broken leaf, but that does not mean that the damage is irreparable.
Broken succulent leaves can be replanted after they have been calloused, and the leaf has grown roots. This is not only applicable for leaves that have been pruned but also with those that have been partially broken. You will need to be patient as the growth may be slow in these cases.
If a leaf from the succulent has fallen off or been bruised, it does not mean that it needs to be discarded. Even in cases where a leaf is broken off or is half-rotten, there are ways to revive it so that new roots grow out of that leaf. This article is designed to give you ideas that will help breathe new life into the broken succulent leaves.
Broken Succulent Leaves Can Be Used for Propagation
There may be many causes why a leaf breaks off of a succulent. It could be the errant kitten who pulled a leaf out of the plant, or a leaf could fall off on its own. In any case, there is no reason to feel disheartened. If these leaves are given a tad bit of care, they can regenerate themselves into new plants.
While there are succulents such as the Christmas Cactus that need to be pruned properly using shears so that the leaf is cut off from near the stem, most of the other succulents do not need a precise cutting method. Broken leaves can be used to propagate the plant. In fact, even those leaves that may have been partially rotted away can be used to breathe new life into the dying leaf and help it flourish.
You simply need to take the broken leaf and let it dry out till you see roots emerging out of the leaf. With the cutting method, you will need to cut off a leaf from near the stem, but that is not needed when it comes to succulent, and any broken leaf will suffice. You can also randomly remove several leaves, twisting gently to remove the entire leaf without tearing and let them dry out and grow leaves before you replant them.
Callus off the Broken Leaves
The broken leaves of the succulent need to be callused to encourage root growth. The succulent is one of nature’s most efficient plants. Left to its own devices, the plant will find a way to regrow. This makes the succulents one of the easiest plants to propagate.
Once the leaves are separated from the plant, they need to be kept to dry. Lay the broken leaves aside in a tray or a container. There is no need to immediately transfer the leaves to a potting soil or water these leaves at all. The only requirement here is that the soil in the tray or container needs to be completely dry at all times.
These leaves are not demanding of constant attention, and they tend to callus on their own. It generally takes around five to seven days for the callus to be formed on the cut end of the succulent leaf.
The part where the leaf was shorn off from the main body of the plant will begin to callus. You will see a layer of soft tissue that forms over the wounded part of the leaf. This formation of soft tissue will heal the broken succulent leaf from the trauma it faced when it got separated from the plant. It will heal the leaf and lead to new root growth.
Encourage Root Growth
Once the callus is formed, the leaf will start to grow roots within the next few weeks. The broken leaves may begin to wither, but do not be alarmed if you see this as this happens because the leaf cuttings become food for the emerging new plants.
At this stage, with the new roots coming in place, the broken leaf has transformed into a baby plant. As the plant grows about half an inch tall, the original leaf would have completely dried up, but there would be new roots in its place. The original leaf is depleted of all its nutrients and energy reserves by now, but a baby plant has come in its place. The roots of the plant are now ready to be planted in a pot.
Once the succulent babies are potted in soil, you may need to water it occasionally to encourage further root growth. Watering them once or twice a week will help the plant to grow roots. Do not, however, douse the plant completely in water. The soil should, at all times, remain relatively dry for the plant to grow. A bed of well-drained soil is best for this purpose.
Preparing the Pot for Planting the Baby Succulent
The next step after the broken succulent leaf has new root growth is to prepare the container or pot where the succulent will eventually be planted. This needs to be done as soon as the new growth spurts from the succulent leaves. The plants will then begin to grow at a regular pace once the roots take hold. As the roots are still growing, the container should be chosen to accommodate the root growth in the succulent.
Containers that are too small in size will not only stop the root from growing but will stunt the growth of the plant above the soil as well. Succulents that tend to have long roots should be planted in a tall container, and those that have roots that spread out horizontally should be provided with a container that is more splayed out.
Choose a container that has a good drainage system. Also, it would be helpful if you have a good understanding of the root system of the succulent that you are growing. If the roots tend to grow longer or need to spread out, make sure you have enough room in the container for the roots to grow.
Introduce a Good Drainage System in the Container
Succulents can grow in just about any kind of container as long as they have enough room for growth and a good drainage system. While they can survive in pots without drainage holes, they tend to do exceedingly well in well-drained and porous soil.
In case the bottom of the pot does not have any outlet, drill a hole at the bottom of the pot to ensure that the water gets drained out completely. Use gravel and pebbles or shale at the bottom layer of the pot so that the water can easily run out of the soil allowing the soil to dry out completely between the watering sessions.
To introduce proper drainage in the planting pot, you need to be considering both sides of the coin–a condition leading to excessive water retention in the soil when water does not flow through the drainage and excessive drainage leading to too much water being lost.
For your potting soil, you can use our custom potting soil recipe. I would recommend increasing the pumice and charcoal ratios to improve the texture and create a better draining version for your succulents.
The potting mix has a balance of small pores and larger pores. While the small pores contribute to water retention, the larger pores promote aeration. A good potting mix drains well, is easy to water after it dries out, has optimum pH balance, and is free of pest infestations.
Plant the Succulent
As the succulent leaves callus after being cut or broken, and the leaves become completely dry to the touch, they will begin to sprout roots, which is a good indication that the succulent plant is ready to be planted.
You can now scoop the baby plant out of the drying tray or container and plant it in a pot. The roots may feel distressed as they adapt to the new environment, moving from a dry tray to the soil. It is vital to plant the baby succulents as slowly and gently as possible so that the new plant does not feel stressed.
Place the baby succulent in the pot. The potting soil at this point can be slightly damp. See that the roots take hold firmly in the soil and embed the plant into the potting soil by positioning the new growth close to the side of the container so that it can gain support from the rim of the containers in case it needs help in leaning upright.
It is advisable to plant the baby succulent a quarter of an inch into the soil as this protects the exposed soft tissue from bacterial penetration. Allow the plant to sit in bright sunlight and mist the pot with water whenever the soil dries out. This will lead to renewed root growth as the plant sits in its potting soil.
Initially, it takes longer for a broken leaf to grow roots, but once that happens, and the baby succulent is planted in a pot, they will grow into bigger plants within the next few weeks. As your new plants acclimate to their new surroundings, growth will accelerate.
Allow Conducive Growing Conditions
Succulents are sensitive to improper lighting, temperatures, and inadequate watering. You will need to take special care with baby succulents. These plants grow and flourish in sunshine and in well-drained soil.
If they do not get enough sunshine, they grow pale. Too much sunshine may cause them to get too hot, and the leaves will actually start dropping off as a reaction to the stress caused due to the heat. Similarly, too much water may cause the plants to rot, whereas too little water may induce drought-like conditions, causing stress and ultimately leading the plants to shed their leaves.
An ideal condition would be to place these succulents in a window sill where it gets a little less intense sunlight, or in case they can only be kept in the way of direct sunlight throw a light cover over your succulents so that the light gets slightly diffused before it hits the plant. Keeping the plants in a spot that gets the early morning or the late afternoon sunlight is more preferable.
Do Not Over Water or Under Water the Plant
Make sure that the plant is optimally watered. Do not overwater the plant as that may cause the plant to rot. An overwatered plant will develop mushy leaves that will be soft and squishy to touch. The leaves will also turn pale yellow and translucent in color.
The leaves will then break to the slightest touch, and the bottom leaves in the baby plant will begin to fall off. This is not desirable, especially in a baby succulent that has just started to grow from a broken leaf itself.
An underwatered succulent, on the other hand, will become shriveled with wrinkled and wilted leaves. Succulent leaves generally look plum because it retains the water in its leaves. However, underwatered succulents will look thin and deflated. The plants will have an overall wilted, dry appearance.
The succulents will only need water when the soil has completely dried off. Consistently wet soil will lead to rot and should be avoided at all costs. In case there is excess water, you will need to dry out the roots and let the succulent sit for a while without watering them. This will reduce the damage caused due to overwatering. Ideally, misting the plants a couple times a week should be enough.
Use Fertilizer for the Succulents
The next important thing is to make sure that the soil is fertilized for the baby succulents to draw all the required nutrients it needs to grow. Adding a succulent plant food to your arsenal will be a good idea at this point.
The EarthPods Premium Cactus and Succulent Plant Food is an organic fertilizer spike that enhances leaf growth for succulents and cacti. Each packet contains 100 capsules that can be used as an indoor fertilizer to stimulate robust root growth, stem development, and enhance the color in your plants.
However, it is important to remember that too much fertilizer could actually stunt the growth of the succulent. Too much fertilizer can cause some of the leaves to drop off and lead to discoloration in the remaining leaves, or worse, burn the roots of the baby succulent.
Sometimes you may also find that there is a deposit on the surface of the soil resembling a white crust. This is an indication that your succulents may be suffering due to excess salt from the fertilizer and can damage your plant and burn it if you leave it on there. To avoid the harmful salt deposits, it is best to follow the instructions given in the package of the fertilizer.
A broken succulent leaf need not be hauled to the compost bin just yet. Instead, try to implement the methods listed above, and you will be on your way to starting your own potting nursery. For this to be a success, keep a few key things in mind, such as allowing the broken leaf to callus off and form roots, incorporating a regulated watering schedule, and maintaining a completely dry soil.