Ask a Question forum: My Baby Succulents Keep Dying!!

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Name: Jasmine
Greenville, NY (Zone 5a)
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Jas84
Oct 4, 2017 6:13 PM CST
Hi there- I have quite a few succulents which I've tried propagating. I've also found many individual leaves of them lying on the floor throughout different stores gardening areas, some of them already with roots & even some babies emerging (yes, I take them home. If that is technically stealing, please don't call the local Home Depot to have me arrested!! I figured they're better off in a home where they'll be taken care of than getting swept into the trash each night!). Anyway- I don't have the names of these specific plants, but I've tried it with many, many different kinds (some echevarias, I know.. some kalancho, and the rest I am unsure). I let the leaves callous over then lie them in a tray with cacti potting mix or coco coir mixed with additional perlite. I begin misting with water at the first signs of roots or babies. So many of these leaves have ended up growing beautiful, healthy looking baby plants but almost every single one of them ends up with dark, dried out roots. When the mother leaf is dead and the baby falls off, I continue trying to grow it, even though there are no viable roots. I've had maybe 2 which have made their own new, healthy roots, but that's it. Even the leaves which don't have babies yet & which start off with beautiful roots growing from them end up with dried, dead roots after a period of time. I've had trays of leaves w/ roots that I'd spray with water every day- and the roots died. I've had trays with leaves which I'd only spray w/ water every 2-3 days, and the roots died. Most of the babies that start out looking great end up dead. I have no idea what I'm doing wrong, but I need help!! I currently have a tray with at least 50 leaves- all with roots, some of them dead already, some of them with newly emerged roots which are healthy & full of life (which will soon be dead), and some of them have only a baby, no roots, and a practically dead mother leaf- indicating that there isn't even enough time before she dies for the baby to get its roots. I hope this is all making sense and I'm sorry for such a long explanation. It just breaks my heart to continue losing these babies or to have a tray full of great leaves with dead roots, even though they started out great. ANY advice will be very much appreciated and I will take anything into consideration. How do people successfully propagate these leaves? And what on earth am I doing wrong?! Thank you so much for sticking around this long, and thank you to anyone who is kind enough to respond
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Oct 4, 2017 8:01 PM CST
If I understand right, you are continueing to mist after your little plants grow roots? After roots, they need more water. That means carefully water them until the water runs out the bottom of the pot. Then let them dry slightly before you water again.

Before roots, they can not absorb water so the misting helps keep them from drying up. After roots, in order to grow, they need to be watered.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost
Name: Jasmine
Greenville, NY (Zone 5a)
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Jas84
Oct 4, 2017 8:43 PM CST
Thank you Daisy! I do water them- I use a spray bottle and spray until the "soil" is saturated but not extremely so. There aren't any drainage holes to gauge how much water they're getting because I have them all lying in a tray, since it's just tons of leaves and I don't have nearly enough pots for each one. I water them everyday to every three days, it depends on how the soil looks. If it's on the verge of drying, I water them- never ever letting the soil get fully dry. I just don't understand, I'm keeping them evenly moist yet all the roots turn brown and die still. I just can't figure it out. Thank you so much for your help!
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Oct 4, 2017 10:23 PM CST
I suspect what's happening is that after the little succulent leaves grow roots, the roots need some dry time to go with their wet time. It is not possible to grow a succulent in a container without drain holes. That was fine for the rooting phase, now the leaves are becoming plants and need breathing room around their roots.

As they root, move them to containers with holes.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost
Name: Jasmine
Greenville, NY (Zone 5a)
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Jas84
Oct 5, 2017 2:24 PM CST
Omg I had no idea!! Thank you Daisy!! So, after the leaves grow roots, even if it's before there's a little baby, I should be moving the leaves to pots with drainage holes.. is that right? And allow them to dry some before watering again? Should I stick to spraying them with water once they're in pots, or should I be saturating the potting mix with water, allowing them to dry a bit, then doing it again, as with regular bigger plants? And when I move the leaves that have roots into the pots with drainage holes, do I continue to lay the leaf on top of the mix, just as I did in the tray, until the baby forms and the mother leaf dies- or do I bury the roots into the mix? Thank you so much for your help, I had no idea that I should've been doing that!!
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Oct 6, 2017 9:43 AM CST
Newly formed succulent roots are very fragile and not at all forgiving of surrounding media that gets a bit too dry or stays a bit too moist. Older plants have more established roots that are better able to withstand drought.

I assume that you are keeping your succulents in a sunny and warm location. If so, then it is all about the watering. Moist, evenly moist, slightly dry are all somewhat subjective terms and people have different ideas as to what they mean. You may want to experiment a bit by propagating the succulents in separate, very small pots. Keep some more moist than others and see which ones do best for you. First-hand experimentation is often the best way to learn just what your particular plants require.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Jasmine
Greenville, NY (Zone 5a)
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Jas84
Oct 6, 2017 9:53 AM CST
That's a great idea Will!! I will most definitely separate them and experiment a bit. They are all in a bright, sunny, warm location (indoors near a South facing window), so I will keep them there, but I will be moving them into different pots and I'll play around a little with their water. Thank you so much for all your help, it is very much appreciated­čśü
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Oct 6, 2017 10:17 AM CST
I would suggest you start your leaves in the same container that you plan to keep them in until they have a more substantial root system and plantlets. Transplanting them at this stage (barely rooted) will only kill them as WillC pointed out. Put holes in those containers you are starting them in.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost
Name: Jasmine
Greenville, NY (Zone 5a)
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Jas84
Oct 6, 2017 5:57 PM CST
Ok Daisy, guess I'll have to go stock up on some mini pots! Thank you so much for your help!!

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