Propagating a Mother of Thousands Plant The Ultimate Guide

Last Updated: November 2, 2023

Native to Madagascar, the Mother of Thousands plant reproduces through planets, making it a super easy plant to propagate (hence the name).

However, propagating a Mother of Thousands is somewhat unique to this plant’s variety and may differ from other houseplants. But don’t worry, it’s still super simple and we will guide you through the entire process below.

Choosing the Right Propagation Method

Choosing the right propagation method isn’t as complicated as you might think. The Mother of Thousands plant is quite adaptive and forgiving, offering two main ways to propagate – via the plantlets it produces (also known as pups) and through water propagation.

First, let’s talk a bit about the plantlets or ‘pups’. These are tiny replicas of the mature plant that sprout along the margins of its leaves.

When these plantlets mature enough, they naturally drop off and start their journey on their own. For propagation, all you need to do is to collect these plantlets and plant them properly. This method has the advantage of being pretty straightforward.

Water propagation, on the other hand, involves placing the plantlets in water to allow the roots to grow before transferring them to soil.

So, how do you decide which propagation method to use?

Consider factors like your available time, the growing conditions, and your level of comfort and experience with propagation. Neither method is necessarily better or worse, but water propagation allows you to see the roots growing so you’re able to spot any issues a bit sooner.

The Essential Tools and Materials

  • Potting Mix: Select a well-draining potting mix, specifically formulated for succulents, as Mother of Thousands prefers dry conditions. Avoid using heavy garden soil that retains water as it could lead to rot.
  • Propagation Vessels: You’ll need small pots or containers to begin the propagation process. These can be as simple as small plastic cups or as elaborate as mini terracotta pots.
  • Sharp Scissors: A pair of clean, sharp scissors or a knife is important for the division method of propagation. Ensure that they’re sterilised to prevent contamination.
  • Humidity Dome or Plastic Bag: A transparent plastic bag or a humidity dome can create the humid environment necessary for root development during water propagation.

Making the Right Preparations

  1. Preparing the Potting Mix: Moisten your succulent potting mix, but make sure it’s not too wet. You want it slightly damp, like a wrung-out sponge. This is to ensure the baby plants have enough moisture to begin establishing roots without the risk of rot.
  2. Sterilising Your Tools: You can sterilise your scissors or knife simply by wiping them with an alcohol wipe or dipping them in a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water. This is to prevent the transmission of any diseases or fungi.
  3. Choosing the Right Plantlets: When selecting plantlets from the mother plant, look for those that are bright and healthy, with no signs of disease or damage. The healthier the starter plant, the better your chances of success.

When to Propagate a Mother of Thousands Plant

The Mother of Thousands plant reproduces quite often, making it one of the best and one of our favourite plants to propagate.

Although the Mother of Thousands can technically be propagated any time, the best timeframe is in the spring or early summer. This is when the plant is in prime growing season and can recover rapidly from the shock of propagation.

However, if your plant is healthy and vigorous, propagating in any season can still be successful.

Here are a few signals you can look out for to know if your plant is ready:

  1. Healthy plantlets: Your Mother of Thousands plant produces a multitude of baby plants along its leaves’ margins. If these plantlets appear healthy, it’s likely a good time to propagate.
  2. Vigorous growth: Spring and early summer are periods of active growth for these unique plants. If your plant shows signs of robust growth, it might be ready to propagate.
  3. Strong leaf colour: A deep, vibrant green leaf colour indicates a healthy plant. This is a good sign that the plant is capable of supporting propagation.

Step-by-Step Water Propagation

To begin with, you’ll need to select some of those little plantlets that are forming on the edge of the mother plant’s leaves. Be choosy – the healthier they look, the better chance they have of successfully rooting.

When you’ve chosen the right plantlets – normally ones that are plumper, richer in colour, and approximately 1cm or more in size – it’s time for the next step.

  1. Gently detach the plantlet from the leaf. This should be done with care to avoid damaging the plantlet. Sharp tools aren’t necessary here. In fact, your thumb and forefinger will do the job quite nicely.
  2. The next stage involves selecting a clear jar or container. This will allow you to watch the rooting process unfold and keep a close eye on the pups as they mature. Pour fresh water into the jar, leaving a few centimetres unfilled at the top.
  3. Once your container is ready, gently place your plantlet on the surface of the water.
  4. Position your jar in a warm, well-lit location, but try to avoid direct sunlight, which may encourage algae growth. A warm, well-lit window sill would usually do. Temperature consistency is cardinal as Mother of Thousand plantlets prefer temperatures above 16 degrees Celsius.
  5. Finally, watch, wait, and change the water every 3-4 days. Give your plantlet time, and when you see roots beginning to form – usually this happens within two weeks – you can start to consider moving it over to potting mix.

We tend to recommend waiting a few extra weeks before transferring your plantlets over the soil just to give the roots additional time to grow. Transferring pups with very tiny delicate roots can be risky, so waiting a little longer will help the propagation be a success.

How to Propagate a Mother of Thousands through Division

Step 1: Select aHealthy Plantlet

Pick one that has been naturally dropped by the Mother plant. It should already have tiny roots growing out of the back. These young plantlets are best for propagation via division because they already have some roots that can help them grow.

Plantlets without any roots can be more suited to the water propagation method.

Tip: we tend to recommend propagating several plantlets at the same time, rather than putting all of your hopes on just one. The success rate for propagation with this plant and this method isn’t 100%, so it’s best to have a few growing at the same time.

Step 2: Prepare the Soil

Having chosen your plantlet, prep a small pot with well-draining succulent mix and make a small hole in the centre – just big enough for the roots – with your fingers or a pencil.

Step 3: Plant the Plantlet

Place your plantlet’s roots in the hole you made earlier and gently cover with soil. Don’t pack it too tightly. The soil should be firm enough to support the plantlet, but loose enough that those delicate roots can spread and breathe.

Step 4: Provide Optimal Care

Now comes the most crucial step: ensuring that your newly planted plantlet gets all the care it needs.

After planting, water your plantlet a bit, just enough to make the soil moist, then leave it out of direct sunlight for a couple of weeks.

Tip: Keep an eye on the soil – if it dries out completely, you can lightly water it again.

Rooting Hormone: Advantages and Disadvantages

Rooting hormones are substances that stimulate root growth, typically used in plant propagation to enhance the chances of successful plant development. It is, however, completely optional and you can still see success without it.

Advantages of Using Rooting Hormones

The use of rooting hormones brings several benefits:

  • Faster root development: Rooting hormones are designed to encourage quicker rooting, which means plantlets will establish faster.
  • Increased success rate: By promoting stronger root systems, rooting hormones can considerably increase the success rate of plant propagation.
  • Enhance plant health: A robust root system is integral to a plant’s overall health. Improved rooting contributes to stronger, healthier plants.

Disadvantages of Using Rooting Hormones

On the other side of the coin, there are some possible drawbacks to consider when making the choice to use it or not:

  • Artificial intervention: Some gardeners prefer a completely organic approach and view the use of rooting hormones as an artificial intervention.
  • Potential harm to the plant: Overuse or misuse of rooting hormones can potentially harm the young plantlets or even inhibit root growth.
  • Cost: The additional cost of purchasing rooting hormones might be a deterrent.

Troubleshooting Common Issues: Overcoming Challenges in Propagation

Issue 1: Plantlets dying after propagation

If your plantlets are dying soon after propagation, this might be a sign of overwatering. Remember, these little succulents prefer their soil to be on the drier side. Try reducing the watering frequency and replacing any waterlogged soil and see if it makes a difference.

Issue 2: No growth after planting

If your plantlet isn’t showing any signs of growth after being planted, be patient! Sometimes, it can take a couple of weeks for the plantlet to establish its own roots. In the meantime, make sure it’s getting enough light and not too much water.

The only time to get concerned that your plantlet isn’t growing is if you are seeing signs that it is dying. Look out for wilting leaves or discolouration.

Issue 3: Yellowing leaves

Yellowing leaves is typically a sign of overwatering or poor drainage. As we’ve mentioned, the Mother of Thousands is a drought-tolerant plant. A quick check of the soil or re-evaluation of your watering container could provide the answer.

Issue 4: Brown, crispy leaf edges

This can be a sign that your plant isn’t getting enough water or humidity, which isn’t a common issue but is still something to keep an eye out for. Try misting your plant lightly every couple of days or placing a tray filled with pebbles and water nearby to increase the humidity around your plant.

Issue 5: Slow growth

If your plant is growing much slower than expected, it could be a lighting issue. Although the Mother of Thousands can tolerate lower light conditions, it prefers bright indirect light for most of the day.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I water a newly propagated Mother of Thousands plantlet?

Watering frequencies can depend on several factors such as the category of the Mother of Thousands variant, environmental humidity, and the medium you are using.

A general rule is to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. This means you might water approximately once a week, but it’s best to check the topsoil: if it feels dry, water slightly.

How long does it take for the Mother of Thousands plantlets to root?

Patience is key when propagating the Mother of Thousands, as rooting can take anywhere from 1 to 6 weeks. The entire process can be pretty unpredictable so don’t worry too much if roots aren’t growing, as long as the cutting still looks healthy.

What should I do if my plantlets are wilting after propagation?

If your plantlets are wilting, it could be a sign of distress caused by transplant shock, overwatering, or even a lack of required nutrients.

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