The Ultimate Guide to Beheading Succulents

Ultimate Guide to Beheading Succulents

BEHEADING!? Relax…

It’s really far from what it sounds. This post isn’t about some sort of capital punishment for succulents. Sure, it does sound gruesome and cruel, but nothing could be further from the truth. Beheading succulents isn’t as bad as you think!

You’ve probably heard of Mike who lived for a whopping 18 months without a head! Apparently, Mike was a chicken, so named by his owners after he became popular in the 1940’s for refusing to die.

Except for very weird cases like Mike’s, beheaded animals and humans always end up dead. No amount of surgery or medical antics can be employed to bring back life

However, with succulent plants, beheading is a practice for rejuvenation and life continuity. What’s not to like about a healthy long living succulent baby?

Beheading succulent plant with tweezers
Beheading a Succulent Plant @juicyplants

Beheading Succulents

Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. Succulents are mainly grown as indoor ornaments to add charm and beauty to the home. When these beautiful succulent plants overgrow, become elongated due to insufficient light or even get infested by pests, then it’s time to bring in the guillotine.

In a nutshell, succulent beheading is chopping off the terminal head of a succulent. This results in a stem stump and the chopped terminal mother plant, both of which are very useful. This is a practice mainly employed in plants with a pronounced stem and rosette-shaped succulents.

Beheading succulents might take a bit of courage in the beginning, but once you’ve done it, you’ll discover it’s a clever way to multiply your succulents and keep them gorgeous.

The following genera of succulents will respond well to beheading.

  • Graptopetalum
  • Echeveria
  • Crassula
  • Sedum
  • Graptosedum
Echeveria imbricata succulent plant specie
Echeveria Imbricata @milicientah

Reasons for Beheading Succulents

1. Correcting Morphology

Succulents come in different shapes, sizes, and colors. Some look like stones, others resemble some animals while others will simply blow your mind away with their beauty. With their great variety, they make the best aesthetics for the living room or office. (I can assure you, it keeps our office vibrant).

However, your beautiful succulent plant may begin to change its appearance due to a number of reasons. If you notice your succulent growing thin, tall, and looking stretched, then etiolation is taking root. You may also note that the plant looks paler than its usual color.

With their great variety, they make the best aesthetics for the living room or office. (We can’t get enough of these modern planters).

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An etiolated plant is one that has been grown in insufficient light resulting to pale color, thin or stretched appearance. Light is an important component for photosynthesis to take place. Photosynthesis ensures the plant has enough carbohydrates or food for its growth and to perform basic metabolism. This explains why a succulent or any plant, in general, becomes weak and pale when there is insufficient light. Since plants cannot survive in insufficient light, they’ll sort of “move” and use mechanisms to get light.

 

Dying succulent plant
Dying Succulent Plant @mysuccastashwish

How do you tell if your succulent isn’t receiving enough light?

There are four sure-fire signs of detecting etiolation in your succulents. When detected early enough, it can be corrected.

  1. The lower leaves will begin to point downwards. This is the earliest sign that your succulents are craving light. This mechanism attempts to expose the surface area of each leaf to any available light, thus increasing the plant’s ability to photosynthesize. A succulent with droopy leaves doesn’t look attractive. Once you notice this, quickly move the plant to a well-lit area preferably near a large window.
  2. The plant bends to a particular direction. It will detect where the most available light is coming from and bend towards that direction. This bending is dangerous and may lead to breaking of the stem depending on the weight of the leaves.
  3. An elongated stem with scanty leaves. This shows that the stem is growing at a quicker rate than the formation of new leaves. This results in larger stem internodes. Stem elongation is also a mechanism to provide more light to the leaves for photosynthesis to take place. This lack of leaf compaction on the stem leads to an ugly, stretched plant, quite the opposite of what beautiful really is.
  4. Though rare, pale color may also be a sign that your succulents are devoid of light. The pale color is due to the plant’s inability to form chlorophyll – the stuff that gives leaves their green color.

As earlier indicated, etiolation can be corrected in its early stages. This is by exposing the plants to bright light for a minimum of four hours per day. However, bent and stretched plants can never be corrected, sadly.

Beheading is a solution to save ugly, bent, and stretched plants. Chopping off the crown of your etiolated succulent and then replanting it ensures you end up with a vigorous and beautiful succulent plant.

The quickest way to the grave for your succulents is when they can’t take up water and nutrients due to rotting roots and stems. The main culprit for root or stem decay is overwatering although cold weather may also be a factor.

2. Stem Rot and Root Decay

A succulent with a rotting stem or root can be salvaged by beheading. The beheaded crown is replanted while the rest of the plant containing the rotting parts is discarded.

Don’t drown or deprive your succulent with the right amount of water, read our full in-depth guide about when you should water your succulents in order to properly care for them.

3. Propagation

The third reason for beheading your succulent is for propagation purposes. This is simply multiplying your plants through stem or leaf cuttings. Scientists call it asexual reproduction. Unlike leaf cutting, propagation by stem cutting or beheading is quicker and has a higher success rate.

Not sure what is the best method? We have a propagation guide shared by over 2000 succulent lovers.

Beheading results in two plant parts: the crown and the stem. Both are used in propagation. The crown is replanted in a separate pot containing well-draining soil and in a few days, it takes roots and becomes established. The stump is also replanted and in a few weeks, new baby plants begin to grow from its sides Once the baby plants become bigger, carefully snip them off with a sterile knife and plant them individually.

What is the Best Time to Behead Succulents?

Timing is crucial when it comes to beheading succulents. The best time to carry out this exercise is during spring, just after winter. The reason for this is that at this time, your plants are out of their dormant state and are now starting to grow. In such a state, your succulents will develop resilience to beheading and they’ll also be less susceptible to pests or shock.

Beheading is always followed by growth, so avoid beheading your plants during the winter months as this is their dormancy period.

If you’re confused about what season a succulent plant is dormant, learn more about winter and summer succulents here.

How to Successfully Behead Succulents

Tools you’ll need

  • Sharp and sterile scissors, shears, or knife
  • A trowel (Here’s an awesome 3 piece kit).
  • Succulent and cacti soil/potting mix. 
  • Extra containers
  • Garden gloves (in case you’re dealing with spiny varieties)
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Beheading succulent plants
Succulent Beheading @juicyplants
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Step 1: Ensure you have a sharp and sterilized cutting tool. This could be a pair of scissors, shears or just a knife. You want it sharp because a blunt tool will crush the succulent making it harder for the plant to heal and develop roots.

A sharp cutting tool results in a clean, precise cut that heals quickly and roots effectively. Sterilization prevents the introduction of bacteria or fungi in the freshly cut wound of your succulent. You can quickly sterilize your tool with isopropyl alcohol. You can behead the plant while it’s still in the soil or you can pluck it out to get the right spot. Strip all the dead, dried leaves from the lower part of the stem.

Step 2: Decide on how much to cut off. Leaving an inch or two from the crown ensures that the plant will remain steady while planted and that it’ll also provide enough room for new roots to grow. Avoid jagged and diagonal cuts. Let the cut be precisely perpendicular to the stem. In case you mess up, don’t be shy to try a little higher on the stem.

Step 3: Congratulations! You just beheaded your first plant. Now leave the cuttings to dry and callous before you plant them. This is to avoid rot and bacterial infection on the freshly cut wound. Place them in a dry area with indirect sunlight and wait a week.

Step 4: Now it’s time to replant the cuttings. Stack some grainy soil in a pot and stick the beheaded crown in the soil. You can leave the stump as it is or replant it in new soil.

Step 5: Place them in an area that’s shaded, away from direct sunlight. At this point, you might be tempted to water it, please don’t. That’s a recipe for failure. The beheaded top doesn’t need water right now for two reasons; one, it has enough water stored in its leaves, and two, it has not yet developed any roots to take up water from the soil.

Watering your plant immediately after planting your beheaded succulents is not only unnecessary, but also dangerous as it may result in plant rot.

Beheaded succulent plant
Beheaded Succulent Leaves @juicyplants

What’s next?

You may be wondering… so how will you know when to start watering your plants?

The simple answer is either, as soon as roots form or when the stored water in the leaves is depleted. To check whether the roots have formed, gently tug the plant and check for resistance. Give it at least three weeks before you tug it.

To find out whether your plant has depleted its water reserves, simply check for signs of wrinkling. The amount of time taken for your plant to drain out its water storage will most likely be equal to the time taken for rooting to take place.

Once you notice any of these signs, then start watering your plant like any other succulent. Give it a good drench and wait for the soil to dry out before doing so again.

After the plant is established, gradually introduce it to direct sunlight but be careful not to subject it to sunburn. (Yes, even succulents get sunburn).

It will take between 4 to 6 weeks for the stump to develop baby plants as well as the beheaded top to be well-rooted.

 

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Enjoyed learning about Beheading Succulents? If so, you’ll really enjoy the ebook about Replanting Practices to Keep Your Succulents Safe. With this ebook you’ll find yourself more detailed answers that’ll help your succulent grow even better! With thousands of succulent lovers enjoying our ebooks, you don’t want to miss out on what works the best to grow your succulents.

There you have it! How to behead succulents the right way, that wasn’t so scary, was it? Let us know how your succulents are growing after beheading here on our exclusive facebook group, Succulent City Plant Lounge.

How to Grow Aloe Vera (Beginner’s Guide)

How to Grow Aloe Vera

Ever wondered if there is a plant version of beauty and brains? Or probably beauty and purpose? A plant that adds glamour to your living room or office while still possessing a horde of benefits and uses? Good news – there is!

Here at succulent city, we’re always pulling out all the stops to keep your window sill or garden looking aesthetically appealing and keeping it that way. So much so, to bring you the good old Aloe vera, a succulent that brightens up your living room and can be used as a medicine.

This ubiquitous succulent is a popular household companion due to its low maintenance requirement. Aloe vera can survive the negligence and abuse of wannabe gardeners. Not only is Aloe vera grown commercially as a houseplant, but also for its use as medicine, cosmetics and food. Yeah, food!

Aloe Vera— Aloe Babardensis Miller

Aloe Vera is an almost stemless, perennial succulent that grows to 1 meter in height while spreading offsets. This mid-sized, herbaceous plant grows in a rosette form with leaves surrounding each other in layers.

Often green or grey-green in color, the leaves are fleshy and thick, emanating from the center of the plant. Aloe’s leaves are lanceolate with pointed ends and may be adorned with white flecks in some varieties. The edges of the leaves are serrated and have teeny baby spines.

Aloe Vera is a quick grower when grown outdoors but generally slow growing as a houseplant. These plants are a bit hard on flowering, but when they do, they produce showy inflorescence containing pendulous flowers, bright yellow, red or orange in color. The blooms, quite conspicuous, appear in summer and are usually attached to a spike that may be up to 35 inches tall.

With proper care, Aloe Vera has an incredibly long life span and can live up to 100 years. Aloe vera contains approximately 200 nutrients and a bunch of healing qualities. This explains why lots of products in health stores and pharmacies contains extracts of this succulent.

 

Aloe vera in black planter and saucer
@team.jost

Scientific Classification

Closely related to the lilies, Aloe Vera is botanically classified under the genus Aloe and the Asphodelaceae (liliaceae) family. Although the official scientific name of Aloe is Aloe Babardensis Miller, other names such as Aloe Vera, Aloe Indica and Aloe vulagris are also used to refer to the same plant.

So broad is the aloe family such that there are about 250 different species of aloe in botany. They differ a huge deal in color and dimension.

Though not popular, some of the common names for aloe include; Healing plant, first-aid plant, African aloe, true Aloe and miracle plant.

Origin

This dainty succulent has been proved to originate from the Arabian Peninsula although there’s evidence that some of the species are native to Northern Africa. Additionally, 130 species are exclusive to South Africa – the land of awesome succulents.

The popularity of Aloe has grown in leaps and bounds, finding its way to households all over the world.

Aloe Vera Fun Facts

  • The word, Aloe, is an Arabic derivative of “Alloeh” which means shining bitter substance.
  • The suffix, Vera, is actually Latin and means true or real.
  • ONLY 4 out of 300+ species of Aloe can be used as a medicine.
  • Aloe Vera was used as deodorant by African hunters.
  • Aloe Vera was regarded as a universal Panacea by Greek scientists 2000 years ago.
  • Egyptians referred the succulent as the plant of immortality.
  • Aloe was considered a source of beauty by Egyptian Queens while Pharaohs carried Aloe vera for use in their afterlife. (I’m just as shocked).
Aloe vera gel
@munskincare

How to Take Care of Aloe Vera

Growing and taking care of an Aloe plant is quite a breeze. This is among those succulents that thrive on neglect. You’ve probably heard ‘em say that, if you can’t sustain an Aloe, then just buy plastic plants.”

No, seriously, it’s that easy to grow and keep your Aloe succulent alive.

Still don’t believe us? For the sake of thoroughness, however, the following conditions favor robust growth for Aloe vera.

Ideal Climate Conditions

Cold temperatures don’t go well with Aloe vera (just like other succulents) as it’s not cold hardy. If you live in zones that experience temperatures below 44°F or 6.7°C, you’ll do well to plant Aloe vera in a pot so that you can bring it in during freezing winter.

It cherishes room temperatures and will do just fine even where there’s a lot of warmth. Aloe vera, just like other succulents do not care about humidity or lack of it. Aloe vera can thrive even in the driest of air.

Light Requirements for Aloe Vera

This sun lover will grow healthy if exposed to bright sunlight a few hours every day. Aloe vera also does well in shades while receiving bits of indirect sunlight. If growing it indoors, place it near a south or west-facing window to ensure Aloe vera receives adequate sunlight. Rotate your plant every six months to ensure that all its parts are getting sunlight.

Outdoor aloes can do just fine with two or three hours of sunlight every day. Insufficient light will lead to droopy leaves and a pale green color on the leaves, essentially etiolating or stretching. Conversely, if you subject your Aloe to lots of direct sunlight especially during summer, it will get stressed. This might be evidenced by a scraggly appearance on the plant.

Watering Conditions for Aloe Vera

See those thick, elongated, plump leaves? They contain water and gel.  Even the roots store water too. Therefore, it’s no brainer that overwatering this plant will send it to an early grave. Depending on the climate of your area, you want to water Aloe vera once in 2-4 weeks.

Drench your Aloe vera thoroughly ensuring that the water drains out completely. This can easily be accomplished by drain holes on your container. If they are missing, simply tilt the pot and drain out the excess water.

Water again only when the soil dries out. You’ll need to water frequently if you have a smaller pot or if you live in a hot or dry area. As is the norm with most succulents, water sparingly during winter.

With Aloe Vera, you’d rather underwater it than water it more often. This is because root rot is real and once your aloe starts producing a strange smell, rotting has just begun. If you also notice dark transparent spots on the leaves, then cut back on watering your plant.

Read our article on watering succulents if you want to be well equipped for watering your Aloe Vera plant.

Aloe vera succulent plant in white planter
@crazyplantguy

How to Propagate Aloe Vera

Propagating an Aloe vera can’t get any easier. They are propagated by division or offsets produced by the mother plant. It is much more difficult to carry out the propagation of Aloes via stem cuttings.

To propagate using offsets (learn what offsets are here), simply identify and remove the offsets from the parent plant. These offsets, or pups normally grow at the base of the plant. Aloe vera will occasionally grow offsets when given enough light so be sure to treat your plants with enough lighting. Propagating via offsets is only recommended if the pups are mature. This can be determined by checking if they have grown their own roots.

Carefully remove the mother plant from its pot for an easier time in separating the offsets. Shake off as much dirt as possible from the roots. Be careful not to injure the delicate offset roots, do it gently. Cut the pups from the parent plant using a sharp knife or scissors. Carefully untangle the offset roots from the mother plant.

Once you’ve fully separated the offsets from their mother, slide the parent plant back to its pot. You can fill it up with fresh potting mix for a revamp in the nutrients.

As for the junior aloes, plant them in their own pots using well-draining soil. While planting the offsets, keep the soil slightly moist and do not water for several weeks. Once the plants start showing signs of growth, then you can start watering them albeit infrequently.

Repotting Your Aloe Vera Succulent

This succulent can grow heavy and leggy and so it might be necessary to repot it once it outgrows its current pot. This can be done any time of the year but please avoid winter if you can.

An aloe produces more pups when it’s pot bound so avoid extra-large pots. A good indication that your plant needs repotting is when it becomes top-heavy or when roots start peeping out of the drainage hole. Otherwise, repotting Aloe vera every 2-4 years will just be fine.

Aloe vera succulent plant in green planter
@helloglowblog

Pests & Problems

Pests

This tenacious succulent isn’t susceptible to many pests apart from mealy bugs and houseplant scale. You can easily hose these off using a jet of water. Alternatively, you can opt for neem oil or 70% isopropyl alcohol which works wonders on these bad boys.

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Mushy stem

If you notice that your aloe has a mushy stem, chances are that it’s overwatered. If you catch it early, cut off the part just above the rotted section and propagate the plant. This is the only way to save the plant before the rot spreads any further.

Brown, red or yellow leaves

This is none other than environmental stress. Mostly due to a lot of sunlight leading to sunburn, very little water or extremely low temperatures. This commonly affects outdoor aloes.

Typical Uses of Aloe Vera

  • Relieving sun burn.
  • Used to create Aloe Vera juice that can lower blood sugar.
  • Combatting heartburn.
  • Aloe Vera’s late substance on its peel can be used to treat constipation.
  • The gel of Aloe Vera can be used to treat acne and gastrointestinal issues.

Where can I buy aloe vera?

Let’s be honest, almost everybody and their mom has an Aloe Vera on their windowsill or just above the sink. Ok, probably you don’t have one but you sure do know tons of friends who can give you one for free.

If buying is the only option, you can get them just about anywhere. Every plant nursery or local garden center stocks some aloe. You can still find them online on Succulents Box, Etsy or Mountain crest garden. Read our where to buy succulents guide if you want to find a laundry list of places to buy.

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Enjoyed learning about Aloe Vera? If so, you’ll really enjoy the ebook about Essential Tools for Planting the Best Succulents. With this ebook you’ll find yourself more detailed answers that’ll help your succulent grow even better! With thousands of succulent lovers enjoying our ebooks, you don’t want to miss out on what works the best to grow your succulents.

Now that we’ve exhausted all information about how amazing the Aloe Vera succulent plant is, what do you think? Do you think you can take care of this baby and use its gel for lotion? Let us know! (Share with your succulent friend too).

The Soft Monkey Tail Cactus (What You Need to Know)

The Soft Monkey Tail Cactus

If you are a sucker for succulent plants or cacti plants in general, then this piece will most definitely tickle your fancy. Succulents are a class of plants characteristically known to have water-filled thick leaves and branches and most famously for their resilience to survive harsh climatic conditions. A majority of people do prefer having such plants as house plants for the fact that they need little care to survive. Especially if you have a busy schedule that has you moving from place to place.

Known by its scientific name Hildewintera Colademononis, the Soft Monkey Tail cactus belongs to the cactus family of plants. Its origin can be traced back to the Bolivian countryside in Santa Cruz. It is of epilithic nature, meaning in its natural habitat it is most commonly found growing on or between steep rocks hanging above a jungle below.

The Soft Monkey Tail Cactus
soft monkey tail garden @_plantsmith_

Characteristics of the Monkey Tail Cactus

This plant probably owes its name to the appearance of its stems, which take up the shape and look of a monkey’s tail. Some might argue that some species of rats do take up a similar appearance, therefore also known as The Rat Tail Cactus. The stems are greenish-yellow and on them are protruding downward-facing hair-like soft white spines that cover the entire stem. To the eye, it may seem like they are safe to touch, but don’t be fooled!

A single plant can have three to five stems, which branch at the bottom. The plant grows upright for a few feet then the stems become pendant and droop. They produce bright, red flowers that are particularly very decorative. They bloom for a few days then turn to fruits with a brief life span. Apart from its natural habitat, the Monkey Tail Cactus does well as a house plant too. Preferably best grown as hanging plants due to its unique drooping stems.

Also, check out “9 Types of Cacti” for a list of buddies for your new Soft Monkey Tail Cactus!

The Soft Monkey Tail Cactus
soft monkey tail cactus @_plantsmith_

Best Growth Conditions for the Monkey Tail Cactus

The Soft Monkey Tail cactus seeds are black and are very easy to germinate if provided with the right conditions. The soil has to be light, well aerated and one that drains quickly. Meaning sandy and loamy soils are ideal for its growth. We highly recommend this soil mix by Bonsai Jack. It is one of the best soil mixes on the market. It doesn’t need to be mixed with any other soil, it helps fight root rot, perfectly pH Balanced & is pathogen-free (ie: won’t kill your plants). This soil is the go-to for our office plants. Go ahead and get the 7 Gallon Bag if you are plant nerd like us :). Pick up some of our favorite soil by clicking here: Bonsai Jack Succulent Soil.

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Last update on 2021-04-20 / Amazon

The watering of this plant should be done exclusively during the summer and spring seasons and only when the ground feels dry. The warmer the air, the more frequent the watering. Otherwise, over-watering may cause the rotting of the stems and roots. During the cold and winter season, the watering halts as this may result in the frosting of the plant which will kill it.

The Rat’s Tail Cactus is one of the few species of the cactus plant that can survive temperatures lower than the freezing point. This happens to be its dormant stage. It becomes active and grows faster to produce flowers in the spring and summer. It does well in both a shady or a direct sunlight environment.

Be sure to also read about The Burro’s Tail Succulent for an additional cascading succulent that will surely complement your Soft Monkey Tail Cactus.

The Soft Monkey Tail Cactus
soft monkey tail hanging @mcl_cacti_and_succs

Perfect Propagation Techniques for the Monkey Tail Cactus

In the natural habitat, nature has a way of taking care of its own, but if you decide to have this plant as part of your garden, then a few rules need to be followed. Otherwise, the plants won’t do well.

As mentioned above, the seeds of a Soft Monkey Tail Cactus are very easy to germinate, but cuttings can also be used in propagation as well. The cuttings are most productive during the spring and summer seasons where growth is most vigorous. The cuttings must be allowed to grow callouts and left out to dry for a few days before placing them into the soil. Check out these shears for your propagating needs.

During its active and growth periods of summer, you should apply a low-nitrogen fertilizer properly incorporated with the soil around the plant. The best application is by diluting the fertilizer with water and administer it as a liquid. Just one application is enough for a whole year’s supply!

Check out also “How to Propagate Your Succulents Successfully” for more tips on propagating techniques.

The Soft Monkey Tail Cactus
soft monkey tail perfect decoration @cactus.man

How to Control Pests on Your Monkey Tail Cactus

This type of cacti is particularly prone to pest infestation too. Spider mites, scales, and mealybugs are the common culprit pests. Most of these bugs are quite a nuisance but are quite easy to control. In the case of mealybugs, you spray your plant with a pressurized water hose to wash them off. A simple shower is guaranteed to spray the buggers away— check out our article on How to Get Rid of Mealybugs for further advisement. Another simple way to wade the bugs away is to rub alcohol; isopropyl, with a soft cotton swab. And rinsing off the alcohol with water before returning the plant to its spot.

Mites are by far the most annoying pests when it comes to cacti. This is because one is unable to notice their presence until they have damaged the plant to disfigurement. Their control isn’t as easy as the mealybugs and does require a keen eye. So one is inclined to monitor the plant carefully, and if you notice brown patches, then your plant is infected by these buggers. Proper watering and constant fogging by pumping up the humidity will chase these pests away.

Scales, on the other hand, do require hands-on control measures. These pests usually clamp upon the leaves’ surface and hide under an impervious shell. Meaning, spraying them away won’t be as effective as desired. Therefore, one is advised to physically rub alcohol on the affected leaves and remove the scales. One should also pay keen attention to catch the infestation before it is too late. In the case of the Monkey Tail Cacti, the use of a soft toothbrush dipped in alcohol will be of great effect. Because if you use a cotton swab, most of it will remain stuck on the spikes.

Be sure to also read “What is Root Rot & How Do You Fix it?” for tips on how to maintain your succulents out of any rotting.

The Soft Monkey Tail Cactus
soft monkey tail by the window @james_tebbutt

Repotting the Monkey Tail Cactus

Repotting of the Soft Monkey Tail cactus is best done once a year. This is because it grows vigorously and at a speedy rate. The re-potting is ideal after the growing and flowering season is complete. If the plant is fully matured, be sure to use a bigger pot with a new soil mix. The new soil mix must contain fertilizer and should be well aerated as new cuttings need a lot of nutrients to flourish.

The growing and taking care of the Monkey Tail cactus has never been more natural than this. This unique looking plant will most definitely give your front yard a sight to behold.

Enjoyed learning about The Soft Monkey Tail Cactus? If so, you’ll really enjoy our ebook about The Right Way to Propagating Your Succulents Successfully. With this ebook, you’ll find yourself more detailed answers that’ll help your succulent grow even better! With thousands of succulent lovers enjoying our ebooks, you don’t want to miss out on what works the best to grow your succulents.

The Soft Monkey Tail Cactus
monkey tail hanging out front @lu.cy8329

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After reading about the Soft Monkey Tail Cactus, is it on your wish list? It sure is on ours!

If you think this succulent will make a great addition to your indoor garden check out our articles, How to Successfully Grow indoor Succulents, or How to Care for Succulents in the Winter to make sure you’re fully prepared!

Thanks for reading… Head over to our exclusive Facebook group, Succulent City Plant Lounge, to join thousands of succulent enthusiasts, like yourself! Or, follow us on Instagram and Pinterest for daily succulent content.

Happy planting!! 🌵

What is Root Rot and How Do You Fix it?

What is Root Rot & How Do You Fix it?

Root rot is a condition where plants rot, or decay, causing the plants to die if they are not treated.

What causes root rot in succulents, you might ask? Well, the most common cause of root rot is overwatering. Giving your succulents more water than they need, end up decaying— as it is often forgotten that succulents have immense water- storing capacity.

Root rot could also be because of poor soil drainage— either water is not being drained in the soil as fast as it should be, or there is a blocked drainage often caused by compacted roots.

Root rot can also be caused by the presence of harmful bacteria or fungus in the soil.

What is Root Rot & How Do You Fix it?
8 Varieties of succulents and cacti! @bodrum_kaktus

Signs That You Are Overwatering Your Succulent

There are three main signs, that we have conducted, to help you figure out if your succulent is being overwatered:

  • The leaves will be translucent or rather light in color.
  • The leaves will feel soft, mushy and squishy.
  • The leaves will start falling off because of the added weight.
What is Root Rot & How Do You Fix it?
Succulent Focus

How to Identify Root Rot in Your Succulents

1) Checking the Roots

Succulents are tolerant to multiple uprootings so you shouldn’t be worried. Be sure to be gentle when doing so though.

Remove your succulent from the pot, shake off the soil and check the color of the roots. Healthy roots should either be white or yellow. If the roots are either dark brown or black and they feel slimy and wet when you touch, then that is definitely root rot. It will also likely break off as you pull it from the soil.

Remember to be keen on the smell. A rotting smell can vary from mild to foul. If the smell is foul, it most likely means the rotting has spread too far, and it may be too late to save your little succulent baby.

But that’s what we’re here for— to help you avoid that!

What is Root Rot & How Do You Fix it?
Succulents in the garden.

2) Checking the Stems and Leaves

If unfortunately, you’re noticing root rot when it’s at the stem and leaves, the rot is at its advanced stages.

During this stage, the leaves start turning yellow and pale and if not attended to quickly, they become mushy and eventually die out. There is nothing that can be done to fix the damage once the leaves become mushy, as it can no longer support itself.

It is difficult to fix root rot when it starts showing on the leaves and stem that’s why you need to always be keen on your succulent. The idea that it’s easy to take care of your succulents is true, but that doesn’t mean you should entirely neglect their signs. Remember root rot happens gradually.

Here’s an important note – it’s overwatering/root rot if it’s only the lower leaves that are turning yellow. If it’s the whole plant turning yellow, then it may be a nutrition deficiency.

What is Root Rot & How Do You Fix it?
Top view of a beautiful succulent garden.

How to Prevent Root Rot in Succulents

Water your succulents less frequently, and when you do, use large volumes of water.

Use pots that have drainage holes. Terrariums and teacups may look fancy and all, but rest assured, you will constantly be dealing with root rot. Stick to your traditional planters with drainage holes for the best growth!

Use soil that does not retain water and drains fast. You can either buy succulent soil, or you can make your own from your backyard- we have an article all about how! Creating your own succulent soil can be a fun project for the family if you need help deciding whether you want to create your own or not.

Don’t line the base of your pot with rocks, gravel or ceramic pieces. This will retain water, rather than help to drain. However, you can mix the three all throughout your soil to improve drainage flows in your pot.

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Last update on 2021-04-20 / Amazon

 

What is Root Rot & How Do You Fix it?
High quality green succulents.

Letting Your Soil Dry Out Naturally

If you know that you overwatered your succulent and you suspect any rotting, unpot your succulent and leave it to dry for a day or two. Keep the root ball and the soil both intact. Once the plant and the soil in the pot have dried up, re-plant you’re succulent. Water it sparingly, just enough to make the soil damp and after that do not water for the next 2 weeks. This will allow for complete healing. When you’re ready to repot your succulent, check out our article on How to Repot Your Succulent— the Right Way!

What is Root Rot & How Do You Fix it?
Succulent plants out in the sun.

Trimming the Infected Part

You can also fix the root rot by trimming the rotten part to avoid the spread of the rot. Dig up your plant, cut out the infected area- whether stem or root. Let the plant dry out naturally, but keep the plant out of direct light.

Pour out the soil mixture and clean your pot with an anti-bacterial soap and water to ensure that there are no remnants of any fungus left. Add new soil to the pot and do not cover up the cut area, this will allow it to breathe as it self-heals. You can add more soil to cover the base once a new tissue develops.

If you have planted many succulents in one pot, you will have to repot the non-infected plants separately to avoid the spread of rot. You may even have to trim them up if they have been growing together for a while. Read exactly how you can trim your succulents the correct way here for some pointers.

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04/20/2021 01:38 pm GMT

 

What is Root Rot & How Do You Fix it?
Tiny succulent plant in white square planter!

Propagating the Healthy Part

If the rot is advanced and you still want to save your succulent, the only other option would be to propagate the healthy part so that it can grow new roots. You can either propagate from the stem or leaves.

How Do You Do This You Ask?

Take a new pot and put in the new soil mixture. Cut off the healthy part and place it on top of the soil. Try these shears out from Vivosun. Push a little bit of the stem into the soil. Do not water until after one week. After the one week, you can water, but sparingly to avoid overwatering. When a root is developing it does absorb so much water.

However, there is a slimmer chance of you saving your succulent if the stem is too mushy that the plant cannot support itself.

As well, if the plant has caved in and is smelly the rot is too far gone and nothing much can be done.

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04/20/2021 01:38 pm GMT

 

What is Root Rot & How Do You Fix it?
Dying succulents.

Root Rot Free

Yes, it is possible to save a succulent with a rotting root, but only if you can address it immediately. Depending on the extent of the rot, you can either let it dry naturally, trim the infected parts, or propagate the healthy parts. Otherwise, avoid overwatering— succulents can survive with very little water!

What is Root Rot & How Do You Fix it?
9 Succulents in a square planter with great drainage.

Did you learn anything new today about root rot? We’ve all struggled with it at some point in our succulent- lives— especially early on in our journey. But hopefully, with this guide, you’ll be able to help yourself and other fellow succulent newbies!

Do you have a root rot or succulent story? Share your experiences on our Instagram, or in our exclusive Facebook group today! We are also about to kickstart our Succulent City Youtube channel. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out on the new videos.

By the way, we wanted to mention that this post is sponsored by Amazon Audible! They are offering all of our Succulent City community an exclusive offer of 2 FREE Ebooks when signing up for a free trial! You can sign up for a free trial here! What could be more relaxing than listening to your favorite book while tending to your succulents?

Did you enjoy learning about root rot and how to fix it? If so, you’ll really enjoy our ebook about Essential Tools for Planting the Best Succulents. With this ebook, you’ll find yourself more detailed answers that’ll help your succulents grow even better! With thousands of succulent lovers enjoying our ebooks, you don’t want to miss out on what works the best to grow your succulents.

Thanks for reading, happy planting! 🌱

 

ALSO READ:

Everything You Need to Know About Air Plants

Everything about air plants

We have a confession to make—air plants aren’t actually succulents. But we really want to share them with you anyway! They’re super easy to grow and maintain just like succulents. They don’t even require soil, so they’re the perfect no-mess houseplants!

Air plants look great in arrangements with succulents and are some of the cutest little plants around. They have thin, ribbonlike leaves that grow in clusters, so we think they look a lot like pom poms!

We know that succulents are your main squeeze, but we hope you have a little room left in your heart for air plants. If you want to know more about these wispy little wonders, keep reading! (We thought it’d be good to switch it up a bit from succulents from time to time).

 

What are Air Plants?

So if air plants aren’t succulents, what are they? And why are they similar to succulents anyways?

Air plants, which are also called Tillandsia, are epiphytes. Epiphytes are a group of plants that grow on trees and other plants not necessarily soil. Some epiphytes you’re already familiar with are orchids, ferns, and mosses like Spanish moss.

Epiphytes aren’t parasitic, so they don’t have any kind of negative effect on the trees they grow on. Since air plants are epiphytes, they don’t steal nutrients from their host plants—they derive those from the air, water, dead leaves, and debris.

Most air plants absorb nutrients through their leaves since the main purpose of their roots is to anchor them to other plants. How crazy is that?

Air plants have special structures called trichomes that allow them to absorb nutrients. Trichomes are those white, fuzzy, hairlike structures on the leaves of air plants. They kind of look like mold at first glance!

Don’t be fooled though!

Trichomes are made up of a bunch of dead and living cells that swell up whenever they come into contact with water. As they swell, they stretch out and cover the whole leaf, which traps the water inside the plant. From there, the water gets absorbed into other cells and is utilized.

You may be wondering… how is this even possible? A plant that doesn’t need soil to survive and lives off the air? That’s crazy talk.

When we first heard about air plants, we were skeptical too! But the more we learned about them (from this great book), the more we realized that the way they grow makes sense given their environment. Most air plants are native to tropical rainforests that have lots of competition for sunlight and water. There’s a dense, thick canopy of trees in these rainforests that prevents sunlight and water from reaching the ground.

Tillandsia adapted to grow on trees so that they didn’t have to compete with all the plants on the ground for sunlight and nutrients. They grow high up so that they’re closer to sunlight, rain, and nutrients from the dead leaves that fall from the canopy. Pretty genius, huh?

How Do You Plant Air Plants?

Most people don’t have huge trees growing in their houses, so they plant their air plants in glass terrariums, hanging metal planters, and even in sea urchin shells.

You can also grow Tillandsia on a piece of driftwood, but they may have a little trouble sticking on their own. You can use a small dab of glue to mount your plant to the wood without hurting it.

The most important thing to remember is that your air plants should not be planted in soil. If you do, your plants might rot!
You can layer sand, rocks, and moss in their terrarium or planter instead.

ALSO READ:

Everything you need to know about air plants
@ary_plants

Types of Air Plants

There are around 650 species of Tillandsia, so there are a lot of plants to choose from! To help you narrow your search for the perfect air plant, we’re going to talk a little bit about the two different types of Tillandsia—mesic and xeric.

Xeric Tillandsia are a lot like succulents—they’re really good at soaking up water because they’re native to hot, dry climates like the desert. Since they have lots of trichomes that can soak up water effectively like a sponge, xeric types don’t need to be watered as often as mesic plants.

Mesic Tillandsia, on the other hand, are native to humid, tropical rainforests. Since water is more readily available there than in the desert, they didn’t develop as many trichomes as xeric plants. Since your home isn’t a hot, steamy rainforest with lots of water vapor for your mesic plants to soak up, you’ll need to water them more often! We’ll give you some watering tips for both types of air plants.

Since the water needs of these two plants are different, knowing which type you have is important. You can tell if a plant is mesic or xeric by looking at its leaves.

If it’s covered with a bunch of white, fuzzy hairs, then it’s probably a xeric Tillandsia. If it has smooth leaves without a lot of fuzzy trichomes, then it’s probably a mesic plant.

Watering Air Plants

Now is a great time to talk about watering Tillandsia!

There are a few different ways to water air plants that you should know about. The first way you can water them is by giving them a bath! You can place them face down in a garden tub or sink full of water and they’ll absorb all the moisture they need.

Your Tillandsia can stay there for up to two hours depending on how much time you have and how much water they need. If their leaves are dry, brown, or crispy, they’re going to need that long, two-hour soak. If they’re looking healthy but they’re mesic types, then you should also give them a bath that’s on the longer side once per week. But if you have xeric plants, putting them in the bath for half an hour or less once a week should be enough.

Everything you need to know about air plants or tillandsias
@ary_plants

If giving your plant babies a bath just like real babies sounds a little too extra for you, you can dunk them in water instead. Grab a bowl and fill it up with some water, and then dip the top of your plants in the water for a minute or two. You can even rinse them under the tap for a minute or two if you prefer.

Depending on the type of plant you have, you should dip it between one and four times a week. Mesic Tillandsia will need to be dipped three or four times a week, while xeric Tillandsia will get by on just one or two waterings.

After soaking or dipping your plants, you should put them in an area with good air circulation so that they dry out quickly. Plants that don’t dry out within four hours are likely to rot, so put them near a fan, in front of an open window, or somewhere else with good airflow. Make sure that you don’t put your plant back in its terrarium or hanging planter until it’s completely dry!

Need a hand choosing terrariums? We break down the Top Terrariums For Air Plants!

If you have a laundry drying rack laying around, be sure to use this to hang them. It’s perfectly set up so that your air plants get the air circulation it needs in order to dry completely.

If your plant looks a little parched in between soakings, you can mist it a bit with any spray bottle, which is the final watering method we’re going to talk about.

You can use a spray bottle to mist and moisten the leaves of your plant. If they’re planted in a metal hanging planter like this one or on a piece of driftwood, you won’t need to move them or remove them from their container to mist them, so it’s a pretty convenient way to water your plants.

If misting is your primary watering method, though, you’ll need to do it at least three times a week to make sure your Tillandsia gets enough water. Mesic types may even need to be misted every single day! So even though misting seems like a convenient way to water your plants, it can actually turn into a real hassle if it’s the only way you water them!

Misting isn’t the absolute best way to water your air plants—soaking them in water will actually keep them healthier. So we recommend that you don’t rely too heavily on misting and mix things up. You should soak your plants at least twice a month to ensure that they’re getting the kind of deep watering they need to stay healthy.

Do Air Plants Need Sunlight?

Air plants definitely need sunlight, but not quite as much as succulents. If you put them in direct sunlight for a few hours, their moisture supply will get depleted, so put them someplace where they’ll get bright but indirect sunlight.

We like to keep our air plants a few feet away from a bright window using a cute window sill planter like this. If you keep yours outside, make sure to put them somewhere with plenty of shade like a covered patio or porch.

As for temperature requirements, air plants do best in warm temps between fifty and ninety degrees. Luckily your home is right in that temperature range, so your air plants will do great indoors!

Tillandsia does not do well in freezing temperatures, so keep that in mind if you’re growing them outside.

Fertilizing Tillandsia

Just like succulents, Tillandsia doesn’t need a lot of fertilizer. You can fertilize them up to once a month, but you don’t have to. Using a fertilizer designed for air plants or bromeliads on them a few times a year is more than enough.

If you can’t get your hands on bromeliad fertilizer, then pick up some regular houseplant fertilizer at your local garden center and dilute it to one-quarter strength before you apply it to your Tillandsia.

Propagating Air Plants

Air plants flower, but right after they do, they die! Sad, right?

Don’t despair, though! Tillandsia has a lifespan of several years and can be propagated before they die. So you’ll have lots of baby plants around to comfort you when it’s time to say goodbye to your mature plant!

Before they bloom, Tillandsia produce offsets, which are baby plants that pop up around the base of the main plant. Offsets stay connected to the main plant until you divide and remove them.

When the offsets are small, it’s best to keep them connected to the main plant, but once they get bigger, you can separate and replant them. We like to wait until our baby Tillandsia are about a third of the size of the main plant before dividing them.

All we do to divide our plants is grab them by the base with our hands and gently pull them apart. Avoid grabbing the top of the plant because you may accidentally rip some of its leaves off! Once the plants are separated, you can mount them or plant them wherever you like.


There you have it! That’s everything we think you need to know about air plants.

What do you think of these cute little plants? Have they made it onto your wishlist? Let us know in the comments below or in our exclusive Succulent Plant Lounge community. Many succulent lovers share their experiences and questions in there.

Did you love learning about this succulent and now feel inspired to add more to your collection?! (We don’t blame you) Check out Succulent City’s new line of ebooks covering topics from, “All the Types of Succulents for Indoor and Outdoor,” “Different Types of Planters,” and many more helpful in-depth ebooks. Head to this link to view our full line of ebooks and get started with our complimentary guide. 

Happy planting!

 

 

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