How to Easily Propagate Mother of Thousands?

Mother of Thousands (MOT) is a very interesting succulent that produces little plants around the mother plant. They stick out randomly from the base and look like they are falling off the plant. This very unique and queer quality intrigues people and makes them wonder how this succulent propagates.

Have you ever wondered how the Mother of Thousands plant got its name? As the name suggests, this succulent has leaf edges full of tiny replicates of the mother plant. The baby plantlets fall to the ground and form new plants.

Because the Mother of Thousands can reproduce quickly, it has been widely cultivated worldwide as a houseplant. Otherwise known as the Alligator Plant or Mexican Hat Plant, this attractive succulent produces swiftly and abundantly spirals out of control. 

If you are not interested in adding more plants, you can grow your Mother of Thousands in a container. This hardy plant can go long periods without water and is low maintenance, ideal for an indoor plant collection. But, first, let’s get into how to propagate the Mexican Hat Plant successfully.

What is Propagation?

Plant propagation is the growth of new plants from existing ones. Succulents are the easiest houseplants to propagate. Propagating creates new growth without the need to purchase new plants.

Safety and Precautions

The poisonous sap from the Alligator plant can bring about skin irritation and blistering. For this reason, we suggest wearing rubber gloves when interacting with the plant. Also, sanitize your cutting tools with hot water and alcohol to prevent the spread of any infections.

A girl wearing gloves.
We suggest wearing rubber gloves when interacting with the plant.

Best Time to Propagate Succulents

You can propagate succulents at any time of the year, but the best time is during summer. As for indoor plants, you can propagate them in any season since the conditions are the same all year round.

Unhealthy plants also indicate that it’s time to propagate. If you notice pests, sunburns, and rotting on your succulent, you can propagate the healthy sections and begin afresh. Additionally, it would be best to propagate your plants once you realize they are root-bound. You can tell it’s time to shift them to a new pot when they start filling up their container.

Methods of Propagation

Propagation from Offsets

Offsets or plantlets are baby plants that grow from the mother plant. You can remove one plantlet at a time as it grows or several offsets at a go. If you opt for a clump of your offsets, use your fingers to separate them gently. The Mother of Thousands plant is a classic example.

A miniature succulent plant.
Plantlets are baby plants that grow from the mother plant.

Propagation from Stem Cuttings

It involves removing a stem from the parent plant and planting it independently. Leggy houseplants like Aeonium are best suited for this method of propagation.

Propagation from Leaf Cuttings

You will only need a leaf to create a new plant. Tall and outspread leaves are better than compact leaves when using leaf propagation. Using several leaves at once in the same container makes more sense than one leaf at a go. A good example is the Echeveria specimen.

How to Propagate from plantlets

You can grow your plant or ask a friend for plantlets. On the other hand, you can source the plantlets from online stores. Let’s follow this step-by-step process of propagating your Mother of Thousands. So let’s fire away.

A mother of thousands plantlets on the pot.
You can grow your own plant for plantlets.
  1. New plantlets are formed without roots. We recommend choosing a plant with properly formed roots for your propagation to be successful. Do not hurry to cut out the plantlets from the mother plant until they have roots. Choose several plantlets just in case some die. 
  2. The parent plant needs to be strong, avoid propagating from plants that have yellow leaves or show signs of root rot. The Mother of Thousands is a hardy plant, and the plantlets fall off easily, so you should not be worried about hurting the plant. Furthermore, the plant grows larger if it does not have any baby plantlets to sustain. 
  3. Next, place the cuttings on a piece of a wet towel to prevent them from drying out. If your plantlets have poorly formed roots, leave them on a moist piece of paper for some days until the roots grow bigger.
  4. Fill a small container with soil and water it. Use soil that enhances drainage and provides conditions that succulents favor. We recommend cactus mix for superior drainage. You can either buy it from local nurseries or learn how to make it yourself. To make your potting mix, you will need one part each: sand, soil, and peat moss. 
  5. Gently place the plantlets on the surface of the soil. Handle the plantlets with extra care. You do not have to shove them into the soil; place them on the soil. Remember, the parent plant drops the plant in their natural habitat, and they start to grow. Place them about an inch apart if planting more than one plantlet in the same container.
  6. After this, cover your pot with plastic wrap. The wrapping helps the soil retain moisture and provides warm and damp conditions necessary to grow.
  7. Position your pot in indirect sun, preferably on a windowsill. Take extra precautions in scorching weather. Too much sun will sunburn the delicate Mother of Thousands of leaves.
  8. The Mexican Hat Plant does not need much water being succulent. However, in the initial stages, water your baby plantlets more so that they may form a robust root system.
  9. Keep the soil moist as your plantlets grow. After some time, new roots will appear at the base of your plant and embed into the ground.
  10. Growth shows that the roots have been firmly established. At this point, you can get rid of the plastic wrap. Repot the plants to their pots once they attain an inch’s height. 

How to Propagate from cuttings

Propagating from cuttings is very common and relatively easy. Choose superior cuttings in late spring or early summer when the plant is actively growing to increase the success rate. Hold up on the cutting until new growth appears.

Tools

  • Small Container
  • Cacti Soil
  • Tools that can create holes in the soil, for example, a chopstick
  • Sharp scissors or knife
  • Succulent plant cuttings
  • Watering container

Select a 5cm long stem with two leaves attached to it. If you cut anything below 1 inch, your plant might have difficulty staying upright. Avoid flowering stems as they will divert the energy to reproduction rather than growth. We suggest taking cuttings from the apex of the stem. You should try cutting just beneath the first leaf node. Place the cut ends in water immediately to stop the flow of sap.

A blue pruners.
Try cutting just beneath the first leaf node.

Place the cuttings in a dry area to give the wounded ends time to form a callus. Arrange them on a paper towel for at least three days until they are completely dry. You can tell that the cuttings are ready to be potted e.g.en they appear wrinkled and tough. Callusing prevents root rot when the plants are placed in soil and watered.

Fill your pot with fast-draining succulent soil and gently press to compact the soil. Alternatively, you can use a mix of compost and coarse sand or perlite. Take a tool of your preference and poke holes gently in the soil where you will place the stems. The holes should be deep enough to hold the leafless part of the cutting. Dip the stems in rooting hormone powder to boost the development of roots. Put the succulents into these holes and pat the soil around them.

Once the succulents are in place, water them until the excess water sips out of the drainage holes at the base. After the water has completely drained, move the pot to a bright and warm place. We recommend a temperature of around 77 degrees Fahrenheit for the best results. Avoid exposing them to direct sun for the first few weeks because they are growing and recovering their roots.

A mother of thousands stem and plantlets top view.
The Mother of Thousands can reproduce quickly, it has been widely cultivated worldwide as a houseplant.

Give your cuttings some time, as they may take a while to get established. The roots can take up to two weeks to develop. After two months, you will notice that the roots have tripled in size. If you want to confirm if the roots have developed, push the cuttings with your fingers, cuttings with roots will offer some resistance, while those that are yet to develop roots will move around freely.

When selecting a growing location, go for an area shielded from the intense mid-day sun. Also, the location should be big enough to accommodate the plant. Mature plants can get as high as six to eight feet. Water the plants each time the soil surface feels dry. Avoid growing the Mother of Thousands plant near children or pets because of their poisonous sap.

For a high success rate for stem cutting propagation, take note of these basics:

  • Only water the succulents after the soil has completely dried
  • Water thoroughly until any excess water drains off
  • Place the cuttings where they will receive the right amount of light

Bottom Line

If you want a high success rate with your Mother of Thousands, you only need to provide a conducive environment. With the basic steps shared, you will get the best out of propagating your Mother of Thousands.

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