What Does “Succulent Topping” Mean?
Succulent Topping is the process of removing the top of a succulent from it’s base, with the intention of potting and rooting it to create a whole new succulent. Often, topping a mother plant will encourage the remaining stem to put out offshoots, so be sure to hang onto those stems!
Reasons to “Top” a Succulent
There are a few reasons you might decide to top your succulent, or be in a situation where you have to in order to rescue your bb.
Breakage – Think of this as inadvertently topping your succulent. Maybe your curious cat knocked a plant off your windowsill or your mailman drop kicked your Succulent Studios box onto your stoop. Either way, if you come to find your succulent with it’s top broken off, we’ve got the fix.
Etiolation – AKA when your succulents streeeeetch for the sky due to lack of sun. While stretched succs are totally cute and healthy, you can top them in an effort to grow a new, low-to-the-ground bb.Note: If you catch etiolation early you can simply give the plant more sun, but if she is really stretched and you want to regain its original shape, the best fix is to top it.
Overwatering – The most common culprit for suffering succulents is overwatering, but luckily if the top rosette is still healthy you can clip it! When the bottom half of the plant looks sad and squishy, like the plant above, the best way to fix it is to create a cutting. The earlier you can catch overwatering, the better.
Safely Cutting Your Succulent
You can use sterile scissors or fishing line to cut your bb. If you’re using a fishing line, wrap it around the stem once and in one swift motion, pull either end of the line. If you’re using scissors make sure they are sharp enough to make the cut in one try. The condition of your succulent can play into where you cut your plant.
If your succulent is overwatered, cut the stem above the affected parts of the plant. If the stem is at all squishy or transparent, keep moving up!
If your succulent is etiolated, you’ll want to cut about and inch below where the leaves start to space out along the stem. Before planting, remove the extra spaced out leaves.
If you have an otherwise healthy succulent, cut it so you leave at least an inch of stem to plant in the dirt. Pro Tip: you can remove bottom leaves and set them aside to propagate in order to create that stem.
Once you’ve topped the succulent, it’s time to start the propagating process.
Creating a Callus
Allowing the area where you made your cut to “callus” is a crucial step in any kind of propagation. This step takes no effort on your part, just some patience. Set your cuttings aside in any type of container or on a paper towel and keep it out of direct sunlight.
Check on your cuttings routinely and in about 5 days the end of the stem should have formed a callus. It will look like a small scab or dried up area on the tip of the cutting. The callus protects the exposed soft tissue from bacteria, and makes the plant less susceptible to rot once you start watering.
How to Propagate Your Succulent Top
Let’s get to growing. Now that you have a callused stem with a rosette on top, all you need to do is plant and root it. In just 3 simple steps you can have a new succ for your windowsill!
Step 1. Nestle that bb into a small pot of dry cactus soil. Bury the stem into the soil until the lowest leaves are just above the soil, but not touching it. Buried leaves are more likely to rot, so try to avoid putting them below the soil. Using coconut coir or cactus soil is important for the health of your bb! Coconut coir is great for promoting healthy root growth. Using regular potting soil will result in a rotting plant.
Remember to select the right pot for your plant! Succulents prefer pots that aren’t much larger than the plant itself. Pots that allow an extra inch or two of growing space will do just fine!
Step 2. And on the 4th step, SucStu said “Let there be light.” Place your potted cutting somewhere it will bathe in bright indirect sunlight, like a windowsill!
Step 3. Once or twice a week, lightly water your cutting. You will want to give just enough water to wet the topsoil.
Now sit back and let your bb do its magic! After about 5-6 weeks of light watering, your cutting will have new roots! At this point you can begin the Drench + Dry Watering Method once the plant gets a bit more mature. This watering method encourages roots that have been growing outward to go down into the soil, providing a strong base for your plant.
Woohoo! You have a whole new healthy succulent!