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Beheading plants...

rina_Ontario,Canada
May 1, 2017
last modified: May 1, 2017

Just to show how easy it is to behead (or decapitate :) and re-root many succulents.

This Aloe variegata was beheaded on March 25 and left laying on a shelve, out of direct sunlight, to callus. Just average house temps. No spraying or wetting at all. It started to grow new roots, so it is about a month since beheading before roots started to appear:

It could be potted at this point, or left to grow roots out of the mix. I think I will leave it out for a while longer and take further photos in couple of weeks. I like using mostly inorganic mix.

I believe that many other aloes will do the same - I have experience with only couple of other aloes.

Please add photos and comments of plants you beheaded...

Comments (119)

  • Matt

    I got this one over a year ago. It used to look nice, like the leaves you see near the bottom. Then it got put it a bad spot away from the window and thing turned bad lol. I should probably re pot this too at some point.

    and no, no grow lights here

  • Kara 9b SF Bay Area CA

    I just asked because if the plant is put in the same light it will grow the same. May take a little longer to root since it's winter. If you do cut and have the room to keep the bottom rooted part around it's highly likely you will get bonus baby Echeverias;).

  • rina_Ontario,Canada

    Do you keep plants outdoors in warm months? If so, behead few weeks before going outdoors, and then acclimatize to sunlight. It will grow more compact. They will eventually get taller anyway as they age, but should be quite compact. They need lots of light, so keep it in better light if available - otherwise it will stretch even more. When leaves grow too far apart, it still doesn't look quite right even if beheaded.

  • Matt

    I see what you two mean about the light. Yes I am keeping the base and hope to start a new healthier one.. In Mid-end of Feb some succulents will be going out to the GH where they'll get at least 6 hours of direct sun. I will do the cutting in a couple weeks before it goes out. By March it's already in the high 70's low 80's, they'll be nice and warm.

    Thanks for the advice

  • rina_Ontario,Canada

    Matt

    I forgot you have GH :) So everything can start earlier!

  • Matt

    Yeah I get to have two springs lo.l One in Feb-March and the other with the rest of the world in May. I'll probably only take out two plants because the sun is intense then. I want to see how they adjust.

  • rina_Ontario,Canada

    Another plant that was beheaded - original, long stem with roots was left potted. It had few large leaves at the top, 2 small offsets growing at the base and 1 at very top of the stem. Left photo is plant before beheading:

    Stem is growing quite a few offsets:

    Beheaded top was left to callus and potted into gritty mix. It had grown roots and blooming this month:
  • Jeff (5b)

    If it were you, assuming you do a lot of beheading, would you do that with this one? (Echeveria purposorum in 2" pot.)

  • Kara 9b SF Bay Area CA

    I wouldn't do it with E. purpusorum. I've read people struggling with getting these guys to root. Looks good anyways:).

  • rina_Ontario,Canada

    I never beheaded purpusorum. I have 2 and both are showing some bare trunks, but they seem to grow quite slow. I never had trunks covered with leaves as much as yours is - very nice plant. One of mine split at the crown, but growing slow. I guess you water yours more often? Leaves on yours are more plump too. I like your plant as it is :)

  • Jeff (5b)

    You two may have saved me some trouble. It's kind of a special plant because it's an E. that looks kind of like a Haworthia and doesn't need as much light, unless you want it to flower (like one of Rina's). I was leaning towards beheading because it's tall, and I would like a bigger plant. I'll probably just repot it, because it's in my old 'potting soil with some perlite added'. I'm trying leaf cuttings, but it seems to be like trying to propagate a Haworthia from a leaf.

    I don't water it very often, but then it's in mostly peat moss. It's been in a west window for a year and a half when I bought it mail order. Moved it to the grow lights a couple days ago, but maybe I should really just leave it alone. Two heads are better than one.

  • Kara 9b SF Bay Area CA

    They aren't a big species of Echeveria. That's pretty much as big as they get. Maybe a little bigger, but that's about it.

    There's a white form that's really beautiful.


  • aleenaplants7a

    I actually beheaded a purpusorum last spring and it worked out fine, he grew roots, but it did take AGES. I was really concerned because none of the leaves I took sprouted pups, nor the stem.


    First is before I beheaded, put it in gritty mix, and got a grow light ;)

    Second is probably ~2 months after beheading.

    Third is recent! Maybe a week ago. It’s been a slow process and growth has been near-zero because mostly of underwatering, but it’s also a slow-grower by nature. But I’ve done a fair amount of traveling in the past 6 months and haven’t been able to tend to my plants how I’d like!

  • April(zone 5a)

    I want one of each of these BEAUTIFUL plants...and to live in a warmer climate (I live in Wisconsin)

    Never heard someone call it 'Beheading' before.

  • Jeff (5b)

    I'm in Wisconsin too. I'm OK with it. I like having small plants. I like winter, but we don't have enough snow in Milwaukee.

    Aleena, I'm glad to see your results of the E. purpusorum. Not that I want to change my mind about not beheading mine, but I'll be ready for it if I ever do. I think yours really needed it.

  • rina_Ontario,Canada

    april

    We behead...and we chop...and we whack :)

  • aleenaplants7a

    Jeff- mine definitely did, it was a mess! I think yours does look really cool — as Rina pointed out such a long stem with leaves still covering it seems unusual. No use chopping if there’s no need :)

  • Jeff (5b)

    Rina was wondering if I water mine more, or do something different so that it has thick leaves and they're all on the trunk. I wonder if it's because I've had it on a windowsill where it's pretty cold during about 8 months of the year. Not really on purpose--I just have it in a spot where I see it a lot because it's a favorite.

  • rina_Ontario,Canada

    Jeff

    If my plant, I wouldn't change anything now. Your plant has much thicker leaves than mine, and also lots of leaves on the stem - I don't see any bare stem. I keep mine outside during summer. Being on cooler windowsill shouldn't be a problem, but watering should be less. Looks like it is getting pretty good light too. Cold & wet soil isn't good for succulents, I am sure you know that.

  • Jeff (5b)

    I really hardly water it in the winter. I've underwatered some of my other plants for a few years. I even lost a cactus to it. I might put it back next to the window and I think I'll pass on the repotting of it. It's not even two years since I've had it. I would like to see it flower, but I have plenty of others for that.

  • rina_Ontario,Canada

    Both of mine bloomed soon after purchase, one bloomed twice. I have no idea what triggered blooming. I tend to underwater too.

  • aloebot

    This needs to get the Rina treatment soon. I'm holding off while I decide whether I will enter it in the show. I have to decide if the work is worth the result. It is about 2 feet across. This isn't very unusual so it would be unlikely to score high. I like it though.

    rina_Ontario,Canada thanked aloebot
  • rina_Ontario,Canada

    Nice big echie - I can only dream of 2' across! Are you entering many/few plants in show? Which ones?

  • aloebot

    I'm on vacation so I haven't narrowed my choices down yet. I'm trying to decide on my Cactus Jordi plant. I have an Ariocarpus poorly grown that he would have said "Well, it needs more light". I also have an Aztekium hintoni that is just starting to look alive after years of my torture. Other than those I have chosen a Bursera. I have much work to do. Ha Ha.

    rina_Ontario,Canada thanked aloebot
  • Jeff (5b)

    aloebot, how would you go about beheading those? Offsets? Unless you posted on the wrong thread. :)

  • aloebot

    It's hard to tell from the picture but this is in a 1 gallon pot which is leaning over. I can't say for sure but I believe when I pull this out it will have 4 to 6 inches of clean trunk. This is the largest it has grown for me in a season. It would usually get about a foot across before either getting chewed up or declining from the weather. The 3 flower stalks are all about 2 to 3 feet long and mostly spent. I am going to try and propagate/root some of the finger length leaves off of these stalks. Some years it will make little offsets on the flower stalk. I think the smaller plant that is hard to see on the upper left was one of those offsets or possibly an offset on the trunk from a previous beheading.

  • Jeff (5b)

    I was referring to your comment regarding, 'Cactus Jordi plant. I have an Ariocarpus poorly grown that he would have
    said "Well, it needs more light". I also have an Aztekium hintoni'.

    However, I now remember cutting off the top of an etiolated cactus and rooting it. Here is the inside. It was as easy as a (non-cactus) succulent.

  • aloebot

    I haven't tried rooting many cacti. Lots of Opuntia have given me roots. I've also rooted Cylindropunitia and ceroid cacti. I don't think I've had any luck rooting beheaded Mammillaria or Ferocacti. Did you treat that Mammillaria with anything, or just let it calous? The Jordi comment was in answer to Rina's question about the SD show. It was, as they say, 'off topic'. Cactus Jordi used to comment on this forum occasionally in the past. The club is doing a small memorial showing of plants that members acquired from him over the years.

  • Jeff (5b)

    Sorry I didn't catch the reference to the comment, and I wasn't implying anything nefarious about you, certainly. My reading comprehension is getting worse.

    I just let a cactus callous and then put it on some dirt. I probably got the soil too wet too early because I didn't know any better, but it worked in spite of me. I probably wasn't able to get it wet 'enough' in the middle of the cutting anyway, fortunately for me. I mounded up the soil a little, because the cactus kind of goes concave as it dries and scars.

  • aloebot

    No problem Jeff. I figured you missed her comment. Thanks for the info. I think the last one I tried either shriveled up or rotted. I want to try to root some offsets at the top of a Ferocactus whose head was damaged. This gives me hope it might work.


  • Jeff (5b)

    Offsets are even easier. I can't find the photos of mine at the moment, but it's pretty much the same as a leaf cutting.

  • Matt

    I could have waited a month or two but I wanted to see progress. This was done 2 weeks ago. The leaves have real nice colour and are finally upright. Cuttings are much easier to work with I find.

  • Jeff (5b)

    I put this tiny Echeveria 'PVN' in with some African Violet leaves that are in water, however the E. isn't in the water, just suspended above it. This got these roots very fast. My other ones have no sign of roots at all yet. I realize faster isn't necessarily better, but it's interesting.

  • Kara 9b SF Bay Area CA

    Jeff, you could pot up your little Echeveria cutting above if you want;). Love those hot pink roots;).

  • Jeff (5b)

    I like the pink roots too. They seem so delicate, I was afraid to put them in pumice. I already dropped it when positioning it to take the photo and bent a root. The bottom root should be perpendicular to the stem and sticking out, not down.

    I would like to sell or trade some of these. I'm not a fan of PVN because the older outer leaves almost never look as good as the inner ones.

  • rina_Ontario,Canada

    Those are air roots; and may be fragile. Some will grow into soil, some won't. Many just dry up. These are growing from stem of potted plant (in this case it is Graptopetalum superbum):

    And xGraptoveria 'Fred Ives' always grows lots of them:
    I believe more of them will grow on many plants in humid environment. Some suggest they only grow if plant is thirsty - I have some doubts since I have seen them growing on well watered plants. But they will collect moisture from air - fog - dew, apparently while still soft. I don't worry about them, and also do not rely on them rooting the cutting.

  • Jeff (5b)

    I hesitate to disagree with our dear Rina, but I don't believe those are air roots. I have those on Kalanchoes, Echeveria prolifica and some others, but these are soft roots that may be pink because they're right under a monster 4 lamp 4' T5 HO light. I've seen similar on Instagram from people who root in water. These are also thicker than air roots. But I certainly could be wrong. Not being contentious, just discussing. :)

  • rina_Ontario,Canada

    Jeff

    Never hesitate to post please! I could be wrong - lots of info is from what I read (obviously, haha) when searching for answers. I did read about different types of roots quite a bit, but that doesn't mean I got it right. I try to stick to reliable sources...

    Some plants grow very stiffer,sometimes almost wire-like air roots. Good example is Adromischus cristatus:


    Whatever I read is referring to them as air roots, so I guess that's what they are. Occasionally, I find air roots on jades. Here is Tricolor - roots are soft, pink and quite thick comparing to Graptopetalum I posted before (some are already drying up but they all started same):
    They grow on many other plants too. I would like to know for sure if there is difference between them. If you find any info, pls. post.

  • Jeff (5b)

    Two main things I'm going by are comparing the PVN roots to the stiffer air roots I'm accustomed to (though you found a reference to some soft ones), and I haven't seen them on my three PVNs before, and these just came on a week or so after beheading it and putting them on the heating mat above the water. They also look similar to other Echeveria roots like this, as seen on the cuttings thread:

    (Seek and you will find.) That's my statement, although I admit those air roots on the jade look awfully similar to regular roots. Weird! I wonder if there was a break on that branch, maybe a leaf taken off? Plus some humidity. I looks like a cutting trying to grow. I may investigate tomorrow.

  • rina_Ontario,Canada

    Jeff

    Are you referring to my jade here?: ..."I wonder if there was a break on that branch, maybe a leaf taken off?"... If yes, I can assure you that there is no break and can show you pics of other jades and different plants (I didn't want to post too many pcs).

    I have seen what you suggest to happen - roots are very similar, but they are growing from the leaf itself and I hope photo is clear enough to see. That leaf war barely attached to stem:

    You may be are referring to your cutting - that I can't tell...

    It may be simplification, but roots growing in open air are air roots. If they reach soil/mix, they likely start growing like regular roots, turn color and probably harden some? - and became 'soil roots'... It happens on many leaves as you can see in your last photo of sprouting leaf.

  • Jeff (5b)

    Yes that's correct, that jade here. The term would be aerial roots, but pretty much the same thing since they are "above ground" (aerial) roots. Although I don't think any roots coming off of leaves are aerial roots, like my leaf cutting, but that's just my perception. Your top right photo of the leaf cuttings (orange) sure look like aerial type roots though.

    What I meant about that first jade roots photo was if a leaf was recently broken all the way off the stem, or if the stem itself was partly broken, and then roots grew out of that. If that makes sense. I can see how a partly broken off leaf would grow roots from the leaf itself. Very interesting! You find some great stuff.

  • Jeff (5b)

    Rina, I have some observations you might be interested in. I found what looks like a regular root higher up on a plant, although it's a vine. In this case, a Kalanchoe longiflora, as far as I know. You can see aerial type roots lower down. I didn't think a 'regular' root would normally grow higher up in the plant like that, although you did show an example of that.

    As you can see, the upper one is pink and flexible, while the lower ones are the usual brittle ones.

    Even stranger, the photo below shows the normal pink type roots coming out of an aerial root (left). I still don't know if an aerial root can 'turn into' a regular one in the soil, but apparently can grow out of one in this instance.

    I thought you might like to see this because it partly proves some of the things you were positing, and showed me things I thought didn't occur.

  • Kara 9b SF Bay Area CA

    Do you guys think these two Echeveria are ready to repot;)?


    This is what happens when you forget to put cuttings into a mix after a couple months;)!

    rina_Ontario,Canada thanked Kara 9b SF Bay Area CA
  • Helen Agius (Adelaide,Sth Aus) USDA Z10b

    Kara, lol. I would have thought they'd have dried up by then, that's amazing really - they're so pink and healthy still. Waiting for you to remember them lol.

    I've got some of those Kalanchoe that Jeff showed above your post. Didn't know it's a vine. Mine grow roots all over the place, including while waiting to be potted. One had virtually no stem, so I turned it upside down and went away for a few weeks. It grew heaps of roots mostly out of the top and the top had started growing sideways lol.

  • rina_Ontario,Canada

    Kara - real will to live !:)

    I just noticed something interesting - but not on succulents...I have too many bulbs & corms of few different plants, and didn't pot all of them. Not only they are growing little roots, but are blooming too:

  • Helen Agius (Adelaide,Sth Aus) USDA Z10b

    Thats funny. We kill plants with tender care, if we mostly leave them to do their own thing they flourish and if we ignore them for long enough they let us know they won't be defeated lol.

  • bunkfree_4a_canada

    My plants all suffered some neglect this winter and I have quite a bit of beheading to tend to. I lost a few tropicals, but not any succulents! (Though some were looking seriously rough)

    This PVN got so tall it literally fell over when I watered it and the head plumped back up. The stalk was 6" of naked after I took off dozens of dried leaves.

    Kd

  • Annie Kilic

    Can anyone help me with my poor poor plant, is it still possible to save it? If so how and what should I do? Any advice is helpful!

  • rina_Ontario,Canada

    Double post...I just answered on other thread where you posted ---HERE--- and also linked to this one...One post is enough; you could have started your own thread but is OK that you asked on another...Btw, did you read thru this thread since you found it? It answers your question and shows many photos of beheaded succulents...including Aloe, that is very similar to your plant.

  • rina_Ontario,Canada

    Beheading plants thread #2 is =H E R E =

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