Finally, your new succulent babies have arrived! And now you might be wondering why succulents are often shipped bare root. Shipping succulents can come with its own set of challenges and due to their delicate nature, online retailers must prepare them differently from other plants such as leafy tropicals. In this article, we will go over everything you need to know about the bare root shipping process as well as provide a step-by-step guide on how to root your succulents.
Why are succulents shipped bare root?
There are many reasons why succulents are shipped bare root. These reasons include:
- Decreases risk of broken stems.
- Decreases risk of root rot.
- Decreases risk of damage from heavy soil-filled pots.
- Easier to inspect for pests before being packaged.
- Easier to wrap and protect delicate leaves.
- To avoid loose soil spillage and mess
Don’t worry, this won’t harm the plant. Since succulents store water in their leaves, they can go a very long time without water. This is their natural advantage which makes shipping bare-root plants and cuttings so much more efficient.
Here is how we prepare succulent cuttings for shipping:
- A clean cut is made just above the soil line.
- The succulent cutting is left out for a week or two to stabilize and callous over.
- During this time, it is common that the plants will already start to grow new roots.
- When the succulents are ready, they will be hand-selected, inspected and then carefully wrapped for shipping.
How can I root my new succulents?
There are a few ways you can root your succulents. But before we jump into rooting, let’s talk about the preparation.
- Inspect and clean your succulents. Succulents shed older leaves regularly and will do this even while in transit. Turn your succulent upside-down and remove any dried or yellow leaves from the bottom of the plant.
- Inspect for pests. Sometimes pests like to hop on board. Bare root shipping decreases this risk but nothing is 100% foolproof and you should always inspect all your new plants regardless of where you received them from.
- Inspect for rot. On rare occasions, your plant may be subject to rot while in transit. Rot usually occurs from the core of the plant and will cause the leaves on your succulent to go soft and translucent. The leaves will also fall off even with the slightest touch. If this happens, be sure to reach out to a customer service agent with photos as soon as possible for resolution.
Rooting in Soil
Rooting your succulents straight into soil is the most common and easiest method. This method is great for those who prefer a low-maintenance or minimal effort approach.
- Fill a pot with good quality, well-draining succulent soil.
- Place your succulent cutting on top of the soil.
- Set the plant someplace with bright light but keep out of direct sunlight for a week.
- After a week, you can give the soil a bit of water but don’t oversaturate the soil with water.
- Continue step 4 every week for the next 6-8 weeks.
- After 6-8 weeks, give your succulent a little wiggle. You should feel a little resistance which means that your plant has happily rooted in the soil.
Note: We know is exciting, but try your best to avoid pulling the plant out of the soil to check for root growth for several weeks. Doing so can cause stress, disrupting the plants' rooting process. It can also damage and fresh fine roots that have just started to grow.
Rooting with Perlite
Using perlite to root is a great method for those who are more hands-on or those who like to watch their plants root.
- Fill a vessel (preferably a clear one) without a drainage hole with perlite.
- Add water to fill about 1/3 of the vessel.
- Place the succulent on top of the perlite. The perlite will evenly distribute moisture throughout the vessel and the moisture will help to draw out roots.
- Replace water as it evaporates/is used up.
- After several weeks, you should see that roots have developed.
- Transfer the plant over to succulent soil.
Using water to root your succulents is also great for those who like to visually root their plants. Hydrotherapy is also a great backup option if either of the above two methods did not work out for you and now your plant is very dehydrated (wrinkly, shrivelled leaves).
- Fill a vessel (preferably a clear one) with water. One with a narrower opening works best but if that isn’t available to you, cover the opening with plastic wrap, poke holes and insert your cuttings through the holes.
- Place the succulent cuttings above the water. The cuttings don’t necessarily need to touch the water, though some people prefer it this way if there is a sufficient amount of stem on the succulent.
- The water will help draw roots. Replace water as needed
- After several weeks, when roots have established, transfer the plant over to succulent soil
Note: All plants are different, and their rooting times will vary depending on the species, your home environment and the method used for rooting. There may be a bit of troubleshooting if it is your first time rooting your plants, but luckily succulents are resilient. Once you have your rooting technique down, it’ll be a breeze. Species such as echeveria and sedum tend to produce roots faster than other succulents such as cacti and haworthia.
Preparing succulents to be shipped bare root or as cuttings definitely requires more work on the retailers' end but the benefits outweigh the extra effort and you receive beautiful, healthy plants. We hope you found this article helpful for rooting your new succulent babies. Happy growing!
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