Growing and collecting cacti and succulents is a very popular gardening pursuit and an easy, inexpensive way to increase plant numbers is to propagate by taking cuttings.
Many cacti and succulents branch quite freely and these branches can be removed, preferably at the narrowest point, then allowed to dry and harden for a couple of days so there is no risk of rot developing.
Where a large cut surface is exposed it is best to dust the cut surface with a powder fungicide before leaving it to callous for about two weeks.
Succulents such as Haworthias, aloes and the like will already have roots formed on their offsets which can be treated as a normal plant when repotting and can go straight into the potting mixture.
Unrooted cuttings are best put into vermiculite, perlite, river sand or a mixture of coir peat and sand, the latter giving good results with the more difficult plants.
The rooting medium must be kept just slightly damp to encourage formation of roots.
Cuttings of cacti should be taken in early spring to mid-summer to be sure the roots form before winter sets in.
Many succulents are autumn/winter to spring growers and cuttings of these types are best taken at the beginning of the growing season.
Haworthias can be taken almost any time of the year but best results are usually in autumn.
This is also the case with most of the choicer miniature crassulas.
Old clusters of mimicry mesembryanthemums such as lithops, conophytums and titanopsis can be propagated by cuttings.
Most of these should be taken in summer but winter growers like conophytums and gibbaeums should be taken in autumn.
All these types need to be taken leaving a small piece of stem with each head or group of heads removed.
Some of the rarer succulents are very slow to offset, some only occasionally, if in fact, at all.
A number of these can be propagated from leaf cuttings taken by breaking off from the parent plant as much of the base of the leaf as possible.
The leaf should be dried for a day in a warm, shady position then inserted into a coir peat and sand mix, planting it to at least half its length to help prevent dehydration.
This is a slow process but worthwhile especially with plants such as Haworthia truncate, H. maughanii and H. ollasons hybrids, all of which offset very rarely.
The leaves taken should be those near the outside of the plants which are still in good condition.
Leaves that have started to dry up are unsuitable.
Any mature leaves can be taken, but removing leaves from near the centre of the rosette will disfigure the plants for quite a long time however, one or two leaves removed from the outside will be barely noticed.
Sansevierias with variegated leaves such as S. laurentil and S. golden hahnii will revert to plain green leaves if raised from leaf cuttings so must be raised from cuttings that include part of the root stock to come true to the parent.
Roots cut into two centimetre sections should produce several plants.
July 16: Australian Native Plant Society, Max Fry Hall, Gorge Road, Trevallyn, 7.30pm. Peter Voller will speak on the revegetation and clean up of the Supply River.
July 17: Launceston Horticultural Society, Windmill Hill Hall, High Street, 8pm. Andrea O'Halloran from the Hillwood Strawberry Farm who will give an overview of berry fruit growing in Tasmania.
July 18 : The Launceston Orchid Society, Newnham Uniting Church Hall, 7pm.
Daily: Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden, Burnie. Open 9am-5pm. Tea room 10am-4pm.