We all love succulents with their thick fleshy leaves and stems. They exhibit brilliant colors when taken care and provide the required sunlight, water, soil mix etc. They are easy to propagate from leaf cuttings and stem cutting. They are drought resistant plants, but that doesn’t mean they can survive without water. They require less water at regular intervals.
Beginners in the fields of succulents can start with some easy hardy succulent plants, that doesn’t require as much care as the other species in succulents. One of the best example for this is the succulent known as Mother of Thousands. As the name indicate it can produce thousands of small plantlets.
Mother of thousands varieties is best known for its foliage rather than its flower. They also don’t flower that often even when kept outside in full sun. It is the appearance of small plantlets at the edge of the leaves that give them their unique not to be confused with mother of millions in the same genus.
Here we are going to see in depth about mother of thousands plant, how to care for the plant, how to propagate it etc.
Origin and Name
This plant is a native of Madagascar, as the name suggest it produces many tiny plantlets on all the edges of the leaves. They belong to the family of crassulaceae and genus is bryophyllum.
They were also compared previously with kalanchoe family. The scientific name of this plant is Bryophyllum daigremontianum. It has many other names such as Alligator plant, Mexican hat plant and devil’s backbone.
They grow invasively when grow out doors, as a single leave can create thousands of plants.
These plants are specially know for the green foliage rather than the flower they produce. They have long oblong leaves that can grow to 20 cm long and about 3 to 4 inches wide.
Now let’s see how we can grow this plant successfully. As we all know the main requirement of plants are soil, water and light whether potted or grown in outside garden. Here we are mainly going to see the potted requirements of mother of thousands plant.
As with all succulents they also require a well-drained succulent mix or cactus mix soil. The soil should contain perlite, sand and gravel for good drainage.
The soil used should dry out quickly and should not retain moisture for too long, which suggests avoiding planting them in regular garden soil.
I have seen them planted in regular garden soil also in which case the intervals of watering are extended with a dry spell of few days.
As they are drought resistant they can survive the no water period of few days.
These plants can survive in full sun. But it is best to avoid harsh afternoon suns, as they cause sunburn.
If they are potted and indoors then it is best to keep them near a window with full sunlight access. They grow well when they receive good light.
Keep them near an east or west window as these receive full sunlight than a north and south windows. When given the right amount of light the leaves will display a bright green color with a red outline at the edges.
Like all succulents they are also sensitive to their water requirements. Drought resistant doesn’t imply that they don’t need to be watered at all.
They require regular watering with a few days of dry spell. It is ideal to fully water the plant and let the excess water drain off.
The next watering cycle should be when the soil has reached a point of being fully devoid of moisture.
In the winter season the plants should be watered very less as they enter into dormant state to conserve their energy for the winter season and during this time their water usage is to a very minimum. So if you water them as similar to summer it can result in rotting.
These plants do well in hot weather, generally they like warm temperature areas. The usual temperature required for their growth is in the range of 65 to 75 degree F.
They doesn’t do well in cold climatic conditions. If grown indoor with heater keep them in direct heat as it can damage the plant.
Mother of thousands when allowed to grow freely can get out of control. They can reach upto three feet high with long stalk of flower (if flowering) and many offshoots can develop from the bottom. New plants also grow as the leaves fall on the soil. So every now and then we need to cut them back and maintain them properly so that they won’t grow wiry.
They are easy to prune and don’t worry about causing any damage by pruning the plants they quickly recover and produce thicker foliage.
Pruning can done by just pinching off the top of the plant at the height that you want them to maintain. They will produce offshoot from the sides and quickly fill up the pots.
Also the dead leaves can be broken off to make your plant look good. There is no need to keep the damaged leaves as they don’t produce any plantlets.
Propagation of mother of thousands Varieties
Propagation is the easiest part with these plants they can be easily propagated from the plantlets found in the leaf of the mother plants.
We just need to pull off the plantlets and then place then in a well-drained potting mix. Place them 2 inches apart and then spray the soil and plantlet. Keep them in a place where they receive full sun, remember to water them and keep the soil moist to avoid drying out of the soil.
After the plantlets have grown about 2 inches tall we can carefully remove them from the small pot we planted them in and move them into larger pots.
If your plant is outside then they self-propagate as the plantlets fall off the mother plant once the roots are formed and they grow from where they fall.
They can also be propagated from stem cuttings. These plants are most adaptable that once the stem reaches a certain height you can just break off the stem and then just insert it into the garden soil or potting mix with well drainage.
We can tell if they need to be repotted when they appear to be root bound and when the roots start to grow out of the drainage holes.
They start to grow more slowly also once they are pot bound. In this condition it is best to repot them to much bigger pots. It is ideal to repot them during spring time as they would have warmer temperatures which are ideal for their growth.
Carefully remove the plant from its current pot if it’s too hard to remove try watering it to loosen the soil and then gently pull from the base of the stem.
Take a pot that is slightly bigger than the current one and fill it with cactus mix or succulent mix for about half then place the plant and then again fill it with soil mix till the pot is filled leaving about one inch from the rim.
You can also provide support to the plant using stalks till the root s are established. After potting water the plant well till you see excess water draining out of the holes.
Now place it in a well-lit area and remember to water it at regular intervals once the soil dries out. In a short time the roots will develop and grow, you will be able to see new leaf growth also.
These plants generally don’t require any fertiliser. They grow well without any external feed. But in case you want to feed your plant fertiliser feed them a small quantity once in a month mostly in much diluted form.
They can get infested with mealy bugs and aphids. The best solution for these is to spray the plant with a dilute solution of alcohol or wipe the leaves with alcohol.
In terrarium- Good or bad
As most of the succulents are grown very well in terrarium these plants are also a great choice for the terrarium.
Some point to keep in mind about these plants while using them in terrarium are that
- they can grow to be tall plants
- they can grow quickly
- they propagate from plantlets easily
- They don’t do well with other plants as they can quickly take over your terrarium and reduce the growth of other plants.
When using them in terrarium remember to remove the plantlets that fall down so that they don’t develop root and start to grow. So regular maintenance is essential.
Is This plant poisonous?
The plant is poisonous. All part of the plants like the leaves, stem contain a toxin that is harmful to humans and animals equally.
If keeping indoors please keep them away from the reach of children and pets. Keep them in a higher window or stand that is out of reach to children. Even the plantlets can be dangerous so remove them as soon as it forms.
If the plant is kept outside make sure to plant them in an area where the animals have no access to it. The toxicity levels are mostly in the range of mild to moderate. If ingested they can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and heart palpitations.
They contain a toxin bufadienolides which is a cardiac toxin. If ingested in small amount by your pets they can cause mostly gastric distress. If ingested in large amount it can lead to changes in heart rate or rhythm.
So it is always best to keep them away from the reach of children and animals. When keeping them indoors please keep them in an area that is not accessible to children or your pets.
Mother of thousand is a hardy plant, which are easy to grow and very well suited for a beginner. If given proper care they can grow to be beautiful plants with a great display of foliage.
These plants as said earlier are very easy to propagate, it is essential to maintain them properly so that they don’t grow aggressively and become invasive. They are generally considered as weed by many gardeners. The plantlets can grow from wherever they fall. Due to this feature they are easy to propagate and also can turn into your garden weed if not controlled. They also will deprive your other plants of nutrients and take over the garden.
They can produce flowers in beautiful colors of orange to red from the stalk in the centre. These flowers don’t yield any seeds that why their main methods of propagation is through the plantlets developing at the edges of the leaf.
If you provide them with a well-drained soil mix and proper light these plants will grow magnificently.
Even though they are aesthetically beautiful when well maintained, their sap contain the cardiac toxin which is harmful to animals and humans if ingested.
These plants can be categorised as both beautiful and deadly.