Cactus and Succulents forum→Fat topped succulent

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Orangesky82
Jun 15, 2021 2:28 AM CST
Hi there,

I've got a succulent which seems to have stemmed strangely - leaving her with a huge fat top and almost nothing but a thin stem underneath. I've got her propped up against a wall and with a stick, but it would be great if there's any recommendations as she's only going to carry on growing. Cheers,
Jodie
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Name: Baja
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Baja_Costero
Jun 15, 2021 8:48 AM CST

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Congratulations, your plant has reached a fabulous old age. It will at some point in the near future need to be chopped and restarted. At this point it will only get stemmier and more unstable otherwise. You can do this now if you like. Use a sharp knife, cut about half an inch below the rosette (the goal is to have about 1cm of bare stem below the rosette on the cutting), and allow the cutting to recover for about a week afterward in a bright, cool place with good air flow. Then pot it up (use fresh soil, like regular potting soil mixed with an equal volume of perlite, pumice, or gritty equivalent) and wait a week to water for the first time. Water sparingly at the beginning (only when the soil is dry at depth) and then when you see new growth on top you can start to resume a normal watering schedule.

Welcome!
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Jun 15, 2021 8:48 AM (+)]
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Orangesky82
Jun 15, 2021 8:50 AM CST
Woah - so I really do need to chop the entire head off? It's actually quite a young plant, well a few years anyway perhaps that's older than I imagine.

Just checking i'm not misunderstanding - so cut the entire top off leaving just the stem? Can i do anything with the top afterwards to repot and make it grow separately lower down again? Thanks so much! :)
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Jun 15, 2021 8:58 AM CST

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Yes, I realize it's a little scary but that's the move you need to make. The top is the part you will save. The bottom is not likely to branch afterwards, but you can keep it just to see. There is a way to make the cut so that there's a higher chance of branching on the stump, but it's not easy. You would need to make the cut in such a way that a few leaves are left on the stump, meaning that the cut would have to go through the rosette itself. That's not easy with such a compact rosette, but it could in theory be done. I'd stick with a straightforward decapitation (Marie Antoinette style) to keep it simple.

The main risk in doing this is that the cutting will rot before it has a chance to root. You don't want it sitting on wet soil before it has had some time to heal (thus the wait before you water for the first time, and the caution in watering right after that). You need to keep an eye on things to see how they are progressing, and that will tell you when the roots are emerging and doing their work. Once the cutting has roots, the risk of rot goes way down, because the roots will be taking water out of the soil. Strong light is very important during this process. The more natural light, the better indoors.

A few years is a pretty good lifespan for this plant, they don't live forever. Smiling
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Jun 15, 2021 8:59 AM (+)]
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Orangesky82
Jun 15, 2021 9:35 AM CST
ahh i see, apologies i misread your original post.

When you say 'leave it to recover' how would you recommend lying it down and where to leave it? Thanks and much appreciated.
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Jun 15, 2021 10:45 AM CST
Hi & welcome! What a fabulous plant!

Although you could do as described, I disagree that it is necessary. Removing the dead older leaves could improve the appearance but otherwise, if you like it the way it is, there is nothing that needs to be done. New growth could occur below the top and removing the older leaves could help accelerate this by allowing light to reach the stem. If it's propped inside, there's not much risk of it blowing over.

The stem can still do that if the head is cut off:


It's totally your call depending on what you prefer to have and view. More pics for your consideration:

The thread "Why is my Echeveria so tall?" in Cactus and Succulents forum
https://www.reddit.com/r/succu...




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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Jun 15, 2021 12:20 PM CST

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As Echeverias age and the stem grows ever longer, the rosette becomes smaller and less vigorous. This is normal. Stability is often a factor with the stemmy plants, and even the ones that don't grow much stem in comparison (like the one in the original post). What you've got will only look more straggly and become less stable if you leave it intact. It's still your choice how to handle the situation, but this is a fair generalization based on experience with lots of members of the genus, including the one in the picture. Essentially all the plants in this group will eventually need to be restarted periodically to maintain a good appearance. It's not a big deal, and they are generally pretty reliable about rooting after beheading. The upside is that a newly rooted cutting usually gets a big boost in vigor and size, so there's a pretty immediate payoff for doing the maneuver.

Orangesky82 said:When you say 'leave it to recover' how would you recommend lying it down and where to leave it? Thanks and much appreciated.


I like to leave the cut surface face up for the first few days, to be sure it gets lots of air flow while it's healing. Find a spot inside without a lot of sun (indirect light is great) until you pot the cutting up, at which point the more natural light the better indoors.
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Jun 15, 2021 2:08 PM CST
I can appreciate what you are saying, that you are describing how to maintain an appearance that you prefer. And maybe that most people prefer. I can also appreciate leaving a plant alone to observe what it does. In my personal opinion, neither course of action is inherently superior, or correct/incorrect.
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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator
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Baja_Costero
Jun 15, 2021 2:27 PM CST

Moderator

Of course, do as you like, there is no right and wrong about these choices. I have done both: leaving a plant alone, and cutting it down periodically, and I have tried to explain why I prefer the latter. I prefer periodic rejuvenation, and I prefer my Echeverias to live indefinitely via cuttings rather than die of old age.

I'm not quite sure why I have to repeat the obvious, but you do as you like and Jodie can do as they like, this is a safe space where anyone can share an opinion. You are entitled to yours. The observations I have described are pretty standard (ie. not particularly controversial) among serious Echeveria growers, including true masters, though obviously everyone has their own ideas about when exactly it's helpful to intervene (if at all). I can recommend 2 books which go on in depth about this: The Genus Echeveria, by John Pilbeam; and Echeveria Cultivars, by Schulz and Kapitany.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Jun 15, 2021 4:50 PM (+)]
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Orangesky82
Jun 16, 2021 2:01 AM CST
Thanks everyone, it's just so great to be part of this community and have help with these sorts of questions. I'll let you know how we get on. I've also got another plant I need to post about so hopefully see you on that thread too Smiling Have a great day!
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Tropicals
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purpleinopp
Jun 16, 2021 9:11 AM CST
Happy to suggest food for thought. I look forward to seeing your other plant. : + )
👀😁😂 - SMILE! -☺😎☻☮👌✌∞☯🐣🐦🐔🐝🍯🐾
The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The 2nd best time is now.
👒🎄👣🏡🍃🍂🌾🌿🍁❦❧ 🍃🍁🍂🌾🌻🌸🌼🌹🌽❀☀🌺
☕👓 The only way to succeed is to try.

GummyBear
Jun 25, 2021 5:16 PM CST
Mine got top heavy so I chop it off at the base, remove the dead leaves, and stick it in a new pot. New leaves are coming out of the ground where I did the cut. The cut off part is also doing well in a new pot.
Name: Charline
Toronto (Zone 5b)
Charlinex
Jun 25, 2021 8:15 PM CST
I like the old plant with its own roots. If it were mine, I would add some interesting rocks to offer some support.

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