Propagation of Cacti and Succulents
Americans have adopted a method of propagating weak-rooted plants, by means ofthe top of the on to a strongly-growing member of the same family. In the case of thin-stemmed specimens it is done by cutting a wedge-shaped section into the stalk of the strong-growing Cactus, and inserting a wedge cut from the weak one. The two are pinned together with two Cactus spines. In the case of a thick Cactus, a flat top or scion is cut off the weak one, and a corresponding flat surface cut on the strong—the two, scion and stock, are joined with the least possible delay and tied together with strings previously fixed round the lower Cactus. A flat disk of cork on the top keeps the strings from cutting the Cactus. The results are to promote a rapid, vigorous and healthy growth in the weaker plant, and to induce earlier flowering. This must be done in the hottest season when both are growing fast. In England, propagation is usually carried on either by , or by seeds.
First examine the Cactus, and remove all dust or debris. Carve out any holes or depressed spots. Cut with a clean sweep, using a very sharp knife—a sawing action is detrimental. Dip the cut surface in fine charcoal, or merely put the cutting on a dry shelf for 24 hours, and a skin will form over the cut portion. Plant in clean, dry, sandy. Be very careful not to break the skin over the wound or rot will commence. Do not water for a fortnight, and then when the plant picks up, repot in the usual soil. Alternatively leave the cutting on the dry shelf, and in most cases roots will form in a fortnight or three weeks. Epiphyllums often root in one week, but there are desert plants that take three years! A Cactus plant may be cut up into pieces, and thus treated, each piece will root and grow. Very small cuttings may be pegged down on to sphagnum moss, with a hairpin, till they make roots.
These are cheap, plentiful, and by far the most interesting method of propagation. Manyproduce seeds which start to germinate on the parent plant, and if the seed is collected from the old flower stem when it has ripened and is sown at once, it grows quickly. If left till the next spring it is very erratic in the time it takes, this being anything from three days to a year. Sow as early in the year as possible so that young plants may be well established before winter. Use much more sand than for adult plants. Avoid caking the soil. Drain well. Do not cover the seed with soil, but just press it in lightly. Water from below. Cover the pots with glass; until the start to grow the atmosphere must be kept close and moist.
When the new plants can be seen, lift the glass very slightly at first to let in a little air, but do not hurry, as the “slow” seeds need time to root. Let in more air by degrees, and when warm weather comes remove the glass entire y.
A piece of wood notched into a V which can be inserted into th sand by the side of the seedling, will lift it with a trifle of its own soil and prevent breakage of the tender roots. The new soil should be just a little more sandy than usual with adult plants, and will last for one or two seasons, when a further transplanting into normal soil will be required.