crassula

How to Root an Airplane Plant

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Succulents have some of the oddest growing habits of all plants, and the airplane plant (Crassula perfoliata subs. falcata) is a good example. Its fleshy, succulent foliage resembles an airplane’s propellers, giving it its common name. In summer, the airplane plant also produces long-lasting red flowers that somewhat resemble broccoli. Once the plant reaches maturity, it tends to get leggy and sparse but produces basal offsets — small new plants — that are easy to root, giving you a fresh, new airplane plant.

 

You’ll find the offsets at the base of the plant, close to the soil – you may have to search for them. When really young, they look like small flowers. Use a sharp scalpel or knife to cut it from the mother plant. 

 

The baby plant needs to form a callus over the cut area so set it aside in a warm, dry area for about a week.

 

Potting it can be tricky because it has no roots. Use a coarse potting mix. Espoma makes an excellent organic mix that you can purchase here, or you can make your own by combining 80 percent of a coarse substance such as crushed lava rock or perlite and 20 percent potting soil. Pack it into the pot real good with your fingers.

 

Insert the cut end of the airplane plant offset into the mix and pack the soil around it to hold it upright. Sprinkle a 1/8-inch layer of gravel over the top of the planting mix. You may have to check it occasionally to make sure it hasn’t toppled over, out of its planting hole.

 

To root successfully, the airplane plant offset requires lots of bright but indirect sunlight and a temperature no lower than 64 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Don’t water it right after planting – wait three days and then just give it enough water to slightly dampen the mix and keep it slightly damp from then on.

 

Photo Courtesy: By Groogle (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons