Ultimate Guide: How to Care for Mother of Thousands

Mother of Thousands grows without the need for watering or fertilizing, which means that if left to its own devices, it can create hundreds of small offshoots called "pups". This plant is also sometimes called "The Walking Plant" because the pups will often fall off and start new plants, continuing to spread indefinitely around your garden.
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Tiny little plantlets growing along the edges of plant leaves might sound unreal. Now, imagine the plantlets dropping from the main plant and taking root wherever they land. That is how the mother of thousands plant got its name; the plant gives rise to many others.

Some consider this invasive plant a weed. To contain it, we recommend planting it in a container.

Surprisingly, this attractive succulent is easy to care of and not as problematic as many think, since it’s considered a weed. Also known as Devil’s backbone, Alligator Plant, and Mexican Hat Plant; the Mother of Thousands native to Madagascar grows from only one stem. 

This attractive houseplant is characterized by pointed and narrow blue-green leaves; the plant can grow up to 35 inches tall. This guide will center on what you should know on Mother of Thousands needs to get you started.

Light Requirements

Mother of Thousands thrives in hot and bright conditions. Adjust the amount of light your plant is exposed to depending on the season. During the hotter months, from early June to late September, avoid placing the plant in direct sunlight because this may lead to sunburn of the delicate leaves. 

Do not place your plant near west or south-facing windows because of excess heat; consider finding another location. Ensure your plant gets enough light from fall to early spring by placing it in direct sunlight in the colder months.

We recommend an east-facing window if you want your Mother of Thousands to thrive. Direct sun, especially in the morning, is ideal for this plant. Avoid placing your plant near North facing windows as the plant will not get enough hours of sunshine in this direction. You can also keep your plant outside or put it in a south-facing window.

How can you tell if your plant is receiving enough light? First, take a look at the leaves; if they are vivid green with a beautiful red outline, they are happy; however, if the plant appears spindly and tall with sparsely spaced leaves, you might want to increase the amount of light your plant is getting. Your plants may also become leggy when they don’t get adequate sunlight.

The Recommended Temperature

The best temperature for your Mother of Thousands plant is 75.2 Fahrenheit. Always keep your plant away from direct heat sources as this can make it dry up fast, in addition to damaging the leaves. Temperatures below four °C may cause the plant to die.

Plant receiving an indirect sun light.
Always keep your plant away from direct heat sources as this can make it dry up fast

Which Container should you use For Your Plant?

The roots of this Alligator plant require plenty of air circulation since they are delicate. We suggest using a pot that has holes at the bottom for easy drainage of excess water. To improve drainage, add pebbles or small stones at the base of the bank.

Put your pot in a tray for extra water to drain out. Empty the tray immediately the water begins to collect. The Mother of Thousands plant does not do well in damp conditions. Stagnant water may lead to root rot and plant damage. If you don’t want your plant to grow too tall, use a small pot.

Avoid planting your Mother of Thousands plant with other plants in the same pot because the plantlets will take over, making any other plant unable to thrive.

The best Soil For Mother Of Thousands

The Alligator Plant thrives well in sandy, well-draining soil. Try out a potting mix specifically designed for cacti. If you cannot get a sandy potting mix, you can make your own by adding a little coarse sand to standard potting soil. You can add the following to improve the soil drainage:

  • Perlite- When added to potting soil, it keeps it light and loose 
  • Vermiculite- helps to retain moisture in the soil
  • Pumice- Helps with soil aeration
Propagation of a Mother of thousands plant.
Try out a potting mix specifically designed for cacti.

You can also try pumice, perlite, and sand mix. Do not use soil that has a blend of loam, humus, and peat moss, as these can retain moisture in the pot.

Watering Guide

Properly water your Mother of Thousands plant all year round. Confirm that the soil is dried at least two inches before the next watering session—use room temperature water because extreme temperatures may shock the roots. When watering, make sure no water gets to the leaves because this can cause leaf rot. You can reduce the watering frequency in winter but do not allow the plant to dry out. Overwatering can lead to leaf malformation.

Pruning

Prune your Mother of Thousands plant when it starts to get curly and weedy. Nip the top of your plant right above a big leaf. This action will cause the plant to commence the growth of leaves further down the stem. The plant automatically sheds off any dead leaves, but you can go ahead and remove dead and damaged leaves for new growth.

The Propagation process

The plantlets make it extremely easy to propagate the Mother of Thousands plant. Pick a few plantlets from any leaf and place them in a moist place, preferably a plastic bag. Next, take a small pot and add cacti soil. 

Place the plantlets on the soil and space them out half an inch apart. Mist the earth and plantlets to ensure they get moist without being saturated. Cover your pot with plastic wrap. Move the bank to a place with lots of sunshine and keep the plantlets and soil moist without overwatering. 

A mother of thousands plants in a pot.
Transfer the plants to their pots when they are big enough, be careful not to mess with the root network.

When the plantlets start to grow, keep adjusting the plastic wrap to avoid crushing the plants. Remove the plastic wrap when the plants are around an inch tall. Maintain the sunny conditions as the plants continue to grow. Transfer the plants to their pots when they are big enough, be careful not to mess with the root network.

Repotting

The best time to repot is your Mother of Thousands is when it outgrows its original pot. You can tell it’s time to repot by observing the roots. Pot Bound roots come out of the drainage holes at the base of the pot.

 If your plants start drying out faster despite cool temperatures, this could also indicate that you should relocate your plant to a bigger pot. The slow growth of stems and leaves is also a strong indicator. The best time to transfer your plant is during spring, when warm temperatures stimulate growth. 

When choosing a new point, go for a size larger; we recommend about 2 inches more. Your fresh pot should have drainage holes. Fill the unique pot with cacti soil or your mix; about a third full. Place your plant on the soil and spread your fingers around the stem. Flip the bank gently and loosen the roots. Move the plant smoothly out of the pot. 

Trim roots that appear mushy and rotted. Put your plant in the middle of the pot; the roots should be just an inch below the top of your pot. Add a few inches of soil, about 2-3, and compact the soil. Do not overfill the pot with soil. Water your plant slowly, ensuring that you let any excess water drain out.

Humidity Level Requirements

Mother of Thousands can tolerate different humidity levels. However, average room humidity is best suited. This is why the plant can survive and thrive in different humidity levels.

Flowering

The Mexican Hat Plant rarely blooms indoors. However, in the right conditions, it will produce pink tubular flowers hanging above the central stalk. Only mature plants bloom; once they flower, the plant dies, giving a chance to the plantlets to start sprouting. The blooming season runs from late fall to early winter.

A cactus flower
Once they flower, the plant dies, giving a chance to the plantlets to start sprouting.

Fertilizer

The best time to fertilize your Mother of Thousands plant is anytime between March and September. We suggest it once every three months. You don’t have to feed your plant throughout the fall and winter because there is little or no growth taking place. Use a liquid fertilizer with half strength.

Pests and Diseases

The main pests that target the Mother of Thousands plant include Aphids, Scale Insects, and Mealybugs. Examine your plants frequently for any signs of infestation. If you notice any pests, apply insecticidal soap to hose down the pests. Apply more than once for severe infestations.

Common Problems Mother of Plants Encounter

  • Root Rot – Occurs if plants sit in moist soil for long. If the roots are seriously infected, pick the plantlets and transfer them to fresh and well-draining soil.
  • Leaf Curling– Caused by overwatering or lack of enough sunlight. Reduce the amount of water and move your plant to a sunny location to deal with this problem.
A water container.
Reduce the amount of water and move your plant to a sunny location to deal with this problem.

The Devil’sDevil’s backbone is poisonous. The leaves, stems, and plantlets are toxic and can be lethal to children and pets. Place the plant where children are unable to reach it, preferably high windowsills. Signs of poisoning include diarrhea, vomiting, and abnormal heartbeat. Consult a doctor or Veterinarian immediately if your child or pet ingests any part of the plant.

Bottom Line

What are you waiting for? Grow this marvelous plant in It’s evident that the mother of thousands can thrive in different humidity levels. Furthermore, it is easy to maintain all year round.

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