How to trim ???

cristal24March 4, 2014


I have this succulent plant at least I'm pretty sure its a succulent. It started out 6 months ago really short and full very round and its started to grown up and up and up!

Im not sure what to do Im afraid its going to snap in half when I come in to work one day.

I read some place that says to cut it from the top and then to plant it but not right away..?? Im new to plants and would really like it if this one lived can anyone give me some tips on what to do?

Much appreciated !!

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bikerdoc5968 Z6 SE MI

It appears to be an Echeveria or something in the Crassulaceae family. It wants almost full sun to keep it tight in its growth habit. Yours appears not to have had enough sun and has become etiolated or elongated. Next, I can't appreciate your soil, but it looks a bit heavy and could use some perlite for better drainage. Having said this, as long as you are careful with watering, you should be OK. Once you have cut the top off as indicated, remove the bottom leaves so you have about 2" of bare stem. Allow this portion to callous in a warm shaded area for about a week and replant. The bottom should send out new growth in a month or so. As for the newly planted top, water very sparingly until it begins to grow. This will take some time depending on how warm you keep and how much light it gets. Until it begins growing, don't place in direct sun as it will most definitely sunburn. You can try to root the leaves removed from the stem as long as they have the meristem still attached; that's the small "nubbin" in the center of the leave once removed. If you "peel" the leave horizontally, you should be good to go.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 5:40PM
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Thanks for the info!
My plant sits on the window sill in my office so its getting plenty of daylight i think..whats "heavy" soil?

I do have a few more questions before I do anything.

1st whats recommended to cut...scissors?

2nd what do i do with the top piece i cut off? put it in water? and how will i know its ready to re-plant?

3rd where should i replant it? in with the bottom piece or another pot entirely?

4th whats rooting the leaves i trimmed off?

Sorry I'm very new to plants!

Again I really appreciate the help! does my plant.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 11:52AM
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bikerdoc5968 Z6 SE MI

To begin: Use any cutting device that will cut through the stem easily and cleanly like a utility knife or pruning shears.

"Daylight" is good but most Echeveria want direct sunlight for 6 to 8 hours of the day to keep the head tight and good color. Many of these grow in Mexico and SW United States.

This is one example of what happens to some of my Echeveria during the winter when they don't get enough sunlight and are not in an active growth phase. As you see, the caruncles fail to develop on new leaves.

As I stated previously, after cutting off the head, you will have to remove some of the lower leaves to expose more of the stem to allow you to plant it in a new pot or back in with the old plant; your choice.

Here are 3 examples of some of my Echeveria that have become etiolated for lack of proper sun; just something I deal with every winter. In late April, I will behead them, allow the top head to callous (allow the cut end to dry and get hard). This takes about a week to 10 days depending on thickness. Once sufficiently calloused, I will plant them separately in a gritty mix, NOT WATER. It will take about 10 days or so for the head to produce roots and I will begin normal watering. At this point, you want to keep it in filtered light until it begins to show signs of growth. As for the bottom half, I just set it out in sun and after several weeks new plants will grow from the old leaf scars.

"Heavy Mix" has lots of peat and generic potting dirt and tends to hold water for long periods of time which may be great for "house plants" but not wonderful for succulents. It needs soil amendments like perlite or turface which is a baked ceramic product.

Now, let's get back to those leaves you removed. Not all Echeveria leaves will root. This plant, Echeveria diffractens, is like a succulent "weed". The flower spikes have numerous leaflets which I remove and root for new plants. While the leaves you remove have come from the plant stalk they are handled in exactly the same manner. Some people root them by just laying them on top of their mix as I have done in picture #2 while others will bury the end just slightly under the mix; both will work. I keep the soil just barely moist. Once these get larger, I move them into their own pots.

This post was edited by bikerdoc5968 on Wed, Mar 5, 14 at 13:38

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 1:16PM
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"My plant sits on the window sill in my office so its getting plenty of daylight"

Sorry, but no, it isn't. What your eye perceives as "plenty of light" and what in reality is plenty of light required by a plant are two different things. While I understand that you are doing the best you can at the moment for this plant, please don't disregard the advice given here.

The link shows what a tight rosette for an echeveria should look like. I know it isn't the same species that you are growing, but the picture is meant to represent how the plant should (and could) look with the proper care.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 4:41PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I would wait to cut your plant back until at least late May. You still have some lanky growth coming due to low light and short days. If you cut back now, the new growth will have long internodes and it'll be what you'll be keeping (on the plant). If you wait until at least late May or early June, you'll be removing ALL lanky growth, and ALL the growth your plant pushes after you prune will be potentially more compact than at any other part of the growth cycle ("potentially" because it will depend in large part on how much light your plant gets. As you ease into next winter, your plant will put on more lanky growth, which you'll remove again next June, and the plant will reward you for your efforts by again producing that summer compact growth you're looking for.

You can easily ruin the shape of a nice specimen by pruning at the wrong time, or NOT pruning at the right time. When you do cut it back, I would cut the plant back hard, leaving only 1 or 2 pairs of healthy leaves on the stem. After the cut stops weeping, wipe it off with a paper towel or equal and then seal it by carefully smearing waterproof wood glue over the wound with a toothpick or thin straw, all the way to the outer edges of the pruning cut. This will prevent the stem from drying and dying back, and prevent an unsightly shriveled stump just behind the cut. Do use a very sharp cutting tool to truncate the stem. I usually use a new straight edge razorblade or a new utility knife blade for truncating cuts. I avoid scissors and pruning shears - no matter how sharp they seem, they still unnecessarily crush and damage tissue and make healing slow and wounds more obvious.


    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 5:05PM
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Hi All!

I inherited an Echeveria from a friend and I've noticed that it's etiolating. I'm new to succulents but i've been reading a lot about stem cutting and leaf propagating. I'm just not quite sure where to cut! And also, on a related note, the leaves on my plant seem to be covered with a dusty film. Just wondering if it's normal.

Thank you in advance!!!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 8:49PM
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Your echeveria is etoliated, stretching for light. Is it kept inside?
You can be-head it and leave the stem potted, it will sprout more babies like one at the bottom.
Cut-off rosette will grow the roots, and you can also start plants from the leaves that fall off (or you remove).
But unless it gets appropriate amount of sun & light, it will keep doing same thing.
Don't try to remove 'dusty film', some plants have it. Known as "bloom" (not to be confused with bloom/flowers...)
Some will rub off when handling the plants, just don't do it on purpose.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 12:24AM
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Thank you!

It was kept in my office by a very large window that gets sun but I guess it was not enough. I brought it home with me and i'm going to set it outside where it can gradually get more sun. I will cut off the rosette and propagate the leaves.

Thank you again for the prompt response!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 10:14AM
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That will definitely help, make sure you put them gradually in more & more sun so they don't burn.

Btw, post above by bikerdoc5968 describes 'beheading' - he even posted photo with marks where approx. to cut...did you read it?

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 5:25PM
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