Succulents are one of the go-to plants for beginner gardeners. They are drought-tolerant and low maintenance, so you would think they would be easy to grow from seed. But are they?
Succulents are actually quite difficult to grow from seed. The seeds are very fine and can easily be damaged or lost. Not only this, but succulent seeds take a very long time to grow. You won’t be seeing any production from your seeds for much longer than you would probably like.
In the following article, we’ll discuss what is involved in growing a succulent from seed. We’ll touch upon why it is so difficult and which types of succulents are the easiest to grow from seed. We’ll also look at the simplest way to grow your succulent collection at home.
Growing Things from Seed
The easiest way to build your succulent collection is to visit your local garden center and purchase their pre-constructed succulent gardens. This is also arguably the least satisfying way to grow your collection. Growing plants from seed is an extremely satisfying way to grow your collection.
Some home gardeners pride themselves on their collection of plants that they have grown from seed. They’ve had these plants since their first conception, nurturing them through all of their growth phases and providing them with the nutrients to become healthy adult plants. Growing plants from seed gives you a deep connection with your plants, something that has been shown to lower anxiety levels.
How difficult it will be to grow succulents from seed will be determined by the way in which you obtain these seeds. Purchasing seeds from a store will simplify your gardening efforts, while collecting seeds from plants you already own is a much more labor-intensive process.
Succulent seeds can take anywhere from three weeks to a year to germinate, so if you’re planning on collecting your seeds on your own, you better be patient.
How Succulents Grow
Adult succulents are mostly easy, hands-off plants. They are the type of houseplant you water once a week (or week-ish) and simply leave by a sunny window. These desert specimens are happy just to soak up what daylight they can and have a quick sip every now and then.
Immature succulents, however, are extremely high maintenance plants. As much as two days without exact watering measures can kill a succulent seed, so your commitment levels need to be high. You also need to supply the seeds with the precise amount of humidity, daylight, and the right temperature. This process can take weeks, so to grow succulents from seed, you need to be patient and dedicated and have quite a bit of time to commit to gardening.
Succulent Growth Rate
Sunlight and water are the main factors when it comes to succulents’ growth rate. With seeds, these factors determine not only how fast the plants will grow but whether they will grow at all.
For the first few weeks of growing seeds, your main job will be to keep the soil around the seeds moist at all times. This will give your seeds the best chance at grabbing hold of the soil and fastening proper roots. This can take anywhere from a few weeks to months, depending on how long it takes your seeds to germinate.
Main Challenges with Growing Succulents from Seed
There are many factors that make succulents difficult to grow from seed. Let’s explore a few of them.
The Seeds are Tiny
One of the main reasons why growing succulents from seed is so difficult is that the seeds are so small. While some plants, like pumpkins, watermelons, and lemons, have seeds that are often too noticeable, succulent seeds are on the other end of the spectrum.
These seeds are more like dust than something that could potentially get stuck in your teeth. It’s extremely easy to lose these seeds. Once planted, it’s hard to spot them at all.
Pro tip: the best way to plant your seeds is to soak the soil that they are going into before you lay down the seeds. If you don’t do this, you run the risk of the seeds floating to one corner of their pot the first time that you water them.
They Demand a Lot of Care
As we’ve touched upon, the seeds need a lot of attention. Not only do you have to set up a perfect nursery for the plants, but you need to monitor them daily. Un-sprouted seeds should always sit upon moist soil. To ensure this, you’ll need to water, or at least spritz, the seeds daily.
Once sprouted, however, you immediately need to pull back on watering. Overwatering your seeds can cause them to rot before they properly root.
Tip: It’s best to let the soil of a sprouted seed dry out between waterings. That will help keep the baby plants free from root rot.
You Need to Have Patience
Some plants take mere days to germinate. Unfortunately, succulents are not one of these plants. To grow a succulent from seed, you’ll need to have faith that your daily waterings will actually become something because for months, you may not see any results at all.
Easiest Types of Succulents to Grow from Seed
While no succulents are truly “simple” to grow, some types of these plants are easier to grow than others.
- Aloe Vera, a faster-growing succulent that can quickly show returns on your efforts.
- Echeveria, this massive category of succulents, is one of the easier to grow from seed. These succulents are among the most standard of the species, loving the sun and needing moderate water.
- Jade plants love to soak up every drop of water you give them and grow as large as they can. These succulents are a bit more forgiving when it comes to overwatering, and their seedlings will quickly develop into adorable mini-trees.
The Easiest Way to Grow New Succulents
If you’re looking for the easiest way to grow new succulents at home, seeds are not the answer. Instead, you should consider propagating your existing plants from cuttings.
Plant propagation is the process of growing a new plant from a seed or cutting, but in most home-gardening circles, it usually refers to cuttings. Not all plants can be propagated in this way, but the ones that can usually turn quantifiable results.
Most succulents can be propagated from cuttings. When a leaf falls off of one of your succulents, don’t throw it away, it’s simply a new plant that needs a chance to grow.
Growing succulent plants from cuttings is much easier (and faster) than growing plants from seeds. You simply need to collect dropped leaves or cut off leaves from a healthy plant. Then, give these leaves a few days to scab over. If they don’t get the chance to heal, the first time you water them, the leaves will absorb too much water and burst.
Once the ends of the leaves have hardened, lay the cuttings on top of the soil that you’ll eventually plant them in. Keep the cutting moist but not sitting in water. Eventually, the cuttings will develop new rosettes and roots. Once you see roots, you can gently bury these new tiny succulents in the soil. Repeat this as needed, and watch your succulent garden grow!
Growing succulents from seed is not an easy task. The seeds are easy to lose and are very picky about their growing conditions. To multiply your succulent collection, you are better off propagating succulents from cuttings of your adult plants. This way of growing has a much higher success rate and will ensure plants genetically identical to the parents. If the parents are healthy, the babies will be, too.