With more than 2,000 species of succulents and cacti suitable for decor, it’s worth your time and effort to try growing them from seeds. This allows you to experiment with combinations. Succulents are in the spot light right now, and we want to fill our homes, offices, and outdoor spaces with them. What better way to spread the succulent love than to learn growing from seeds. Succulents from seeds are a very similar process to growing cacti from seeds, but you will want to research the time of germination or each variety to make sure you aren’t removing them from the growing soil too early. Definitely consider the germination time before you purchase your seeds. Also, sunlight and temperature are important to monitor when growing succulents from seeds. The moderate temperatures of spring and fall allow for optimal growing conditions.
What You’ll Need:
- Shallow planting trays (no more than 4 inches deep with drainage holes in the bottom)
- Sand (try horticultural sand or builder’s sand), pumice, or perlite
- Potting soil (optional)
- Succulent or cactus seeds
- Clear lid or plastic wrap for trays
Mix Your Growing Medium
There are many suggested combinations for growing media (that is, the soil mixture you’ll be planting your seeds in). Some suggest horticultural sand only, but using a mixture of succulent soil and sharp sand, pumice, or perlite can work as well. The amount you’ll need will depend on the ratio you decide to use, the size of your planting trays, and how many trays you are using.
Succulents with fatter leaves hold more of their own water, so you can use more pumice in your mix for optimal drainage. Plants with more delicate leaves will benefit from a higher ratio of soil. We found that a half-and-half mix of coarsely sifted potting soil and sand or perlite works well for most varieties (and combinations of different varieties) while providing enough drainage for the plants.
Planting Succulent Seeds
Succulent seeds are very small, so you will want to do this step in a sheltered area where the wind won’t blow them away. Dampen the surface of the soil so that the seeds stick to the soil. Carefully spread the tiny seeds over the surface of your soil mix, giving them some space in between each other. (The space between will depend on the type of succulent you’re planting. Keep in mind their mature size when considering how far apart you will want to space them.) Use a toothpick to gently spread them around. If your tray is divided into cells, put one or two seeds in each cell. Do not cover the seeds with soil.
If you’re growing more than one type of succulent at a time, we recommend separating each type into separate trays. Since they will have varying germination times, this makes it easier to give them the appropriate amount of sunlight and water depending on their growth stages.
Cover your tray(s) with a clear lid or plastic wrap. Set them in a brightly lit location but out of direct sunlight. Make sure the temperature stays at about 70 degrees F. Keep the soil moist but not wet, as too much dampness can drown your seeds. Open the lid twice a day to keep air moving. If you’re using plastic wrap, you may want to poke some ventilation holes with your toothpick.
Once you see leaves begin to emerge, remove the lid during the day to keep them ventilated.
As your plants grow over the first week or two, continue to keep the soil moist and ensure adequate drainage. This is the time when their roots are just starting to develop, so it’s very important to keep them hydrated. Once the roots become established, it’s not necessary to keep the soil surface damp at all times. Monitor your plants’ growth and use your best judgment (plus your research on your particular type of succulent) until you’re watering them about once per week as you would adult plants.
This is also the time to begin to introduce your succulents to more sunlight. While succulents and cacti are desert plants, that doesn’t mean they thrive off of direct sunlight and heat. The baby plants especially do not like direct sunlight, so wait until their leaves begin to mature before slowly introducing them to more and more light. Increase the light by an hour or so every few days until you get them tolerating the amount of light in the area where you want to keep them permanently. Again, the best amount of light will vary depending on each type of plant.
You can purchase succulent seed packets at our new garden shop, just follow the link to see more: http://www.thegardenocityshop.com