propagation, succulents, Wee Warhols, art class, austin

The Mama Succulent Leaf Gives All – Propagating By Division

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I would like to start out by admitting that I find it very hard to keep plants alive.  This is probably because I often forget to water them.  That is why I am a huge fan of  resilient succulent plants.  (Did you know that succulents are the only thing that can lose 90% of it’s body and still survive!?)  They contain so much water in the leaves and stems, therefore they are super low maintenance.  Luckily, I have a succulent expert neighbor Renee (whom we have labeled the “The Plant Lady”) who has taught me everything I know regarding succulents.  “The Plant Lady” turned me on to a grow project that I was really moved by, and shared with my Wee Warhols.  I would like to share it with you.

propagation, succulents, Wee Warhols, art class, austin

Propagating by Division is a the technique where new succulents sprout from cuttings.  The mama succulent leaf cutting will give all of the water and nutrients that she has to grow new babies.  She will eventually wither and die, but the the babies can be replanted to live on.  I see this as good lesson for children about what a mama will do for her young.  What we are willing to sacrifice for our children.  Or maybe is just a cool lesson in growth and Botany.

What you will need:

  • A succulent plant that has become leggy (Plant having an excessively long and straggly stem.)  We used Baby Blue Kalanchoe Succulent leaves, which worked well.  Not all varieties of succulents will produce babies.  Also, note that each leaf has it’s own growth characteristic.
  • a tag for labeling
  • dry window sill with indirect light
  • time
  • If replanting you will need: succulent soil and small pot

Instructions:

  1. Gently remove the leaves from the bottom of the plant by wiggling them side to side, careful to retain the base of the leaf.  You could also use a leaf that has fallen.
  2. I labeled the cutting with dated tags, so the kids could keep track of the start and the end of the project.
  3. Let the cutting sit out in a warm, dry place with indirect sunlight.  (If you wanted to replant this leaf, this is where you would let the end of the stem callus or dry before planting it.  Otherwise, if you replanted them right away they would absorb too much moisture and rot.)
  4. Wait.  After a few days or a week or so you will start to see little pink roots sprouting from the ends of the leaves.  Then little baby plants will grow.
  5. When you feel like the “parent” leaf has given it’s all and withers, remove it carefully, keeping the new roots in tact.
  6. Replant the babies in well draining soil.
  7. Don’t over water the new plants.
  8. Avoid placing the new plants in direct sunlight.

 

propagation, botany, STEM, succulents, Austin, Wee Warhols

The kids were so excited about the process and the growth of the baby succulents.  My boys checked on the leaves daily.  It was sad when we set the mama out in a planter and separated the babies.  Well, maybe it was just sad to me.  I thought this was one of the sweetest STEM projects that we have done.  This grow experiment teaches children about Botany, which is the science of plant life.  It also involves math, since we are keeping track of time and counting down the days till we see new growth.  Since succulents produce new growth, this project is super inexpensive to try.  Older kids can expand the project by researching other plants that also produce babies externally like the velvet leaf kalanchoe, donkey ear succulent, pregnant onion, mother of thousands…  For instance, the donkey ear succulent can be torn in various places and grow babies where the leaf is torn.  Botany is its own world of science with endless possibilities.

propagation, succulents, botany, Wee Warhols, art class, austin, STEM

If you liked this project you will love our new book STEAM KIDS , where this project is among other creative STEAM activities.You can purchase the ebook here STEAM KIDS Ebook.

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