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08 Apr

Garden Blog: Propagating the Mother of Thousands Succulent

~Kelly, from Team Geoponics, shares the Mother of Thousands Story

One of our favorite plants to visit is Mother of Thousands in Mercy’s Garden. We are a foster gardener there. This plant goes by many other names, but this name is perfect for this story and for this plant. Here, we share a Story of a Thousand Mothers and how to propagate this succulent. Later on, we’ll tell you her numerous nicknames and scientific names.

Mmm, Mmm, Mmm: My Mom, Meeting Mercy, Mother of Thousands and Mercy’s Garden

Mother of Thousands is a succulent that makes more succulents as you see here propagating in an aptly named cup. This comes from Mercy’s garden. She was mom’s nurse’s aid before mom died. Mercy is in Kenya for a couple months following the recent death of her sister. Meanwhile, I’m Mercy’s foster gardener. The plant of a thousand mothers is right at the entrance to Mercy’s container garden and these little ones fell off that mother plant. The plant was an accident outside her door as she swept the little nubs off her patio— a perfect accident. Likewise, I didn’t know exactly why I purchased this little cup, labeled “Proud Plant Parent,” but it’s so fitting for this purpose of propagating this plant.

Background on the Mother of Thousands Story:

How We Got to Know Mother of Thousands

When people think of plants, they think of us.

So, when one woman who helped my mom with her home nursing asked if I would take care of her plants, I was honored. Mom passed away several months ago. Her former nurse, Mercy, had an emergency in her own family with the recent passing of her sister. She went to Kenya, where she was born, to spend a couple months with her family. Left behind is her urban garden and Mother of Thousands. Here, I serve as foster gardener or foster parent of the plants.

Mercy’s Garden: Home of the Mother of Thousands Story

Before you even enter the garden, just outside the garden gate is what I call plant of a thousand mothers, a turn around of its common name, Mother of Thousands. This Mother of Thousands is gorgeous, though oddly placed. It got there a bit by mistake. See, inside the fenced patio garden is the mother plant, the intentionally, beautifully potted Mother of Thousands. On the edges of the plant’s leaves are little plantlets. They drop off quite easily and are so small, they easily go unseen. So, as it turns out, the mother plant had in fact dropped some of her tiny plantlets onto the patio floor. When mom’s former nurse swept the patio, out went a couple mother of thousand plantlets – or at least one of them. That tiny nub grew just outside the garden door into a full grown plant. It’s in an unusual spot, almost in the way of the entrance to the garden. But it’s also in a great spot. Tells you about the caretaker whose garden and home you’re about to enter.

Mercy has dozens of potted plants. Among the plants in this container garden are succulents, cacti, orchids, tomato plants and many others. It’s a relatively small patio garden and yet it packs a lot of well arranged plants. In future blogs, we’ll share tips on caring for these plants, propagating them, improving blooms and increasing yields for tomatoes.

What better way to honor my mom and the people who helped care for her than to care for a garden with Mother of Thousands? And how perfect that right at the garden door is this plant. I was so proud Mercy asked for my help.

How to Propagate Mother of Thousands

Mother of Thousands is so easy to propagate you will feel great about your garden skills. If you get a couple of the nubs off the edge of a mother plant’s leaf, you simply set those nubs or plantlets on top of soil and watch them root and grow.

Still, you deserve more tips for great success. Here they are:

  • Find a nub or plantlet that fell off on its own.
  • Alternatively, you can gently remove one from the edge of the plant’s leaf. You can do this just by gently touching the nubs and let if fall naturally into your palm. (Some people extract them with tweezers, if you prefer.)
  • Use a well draining soil.
  • Mix sand, pumice and/ or tiny pebbles into potting soil to make a very well draining soil. Or, if you live in Florida, Texas or New Mexico (among other areas) and are planting outside, odds are, your soil is ideal because it’s already sandy.
  • Another option is simply purchase cactus or succulent soil.
  • Put the mother of thousands plantlet(s) on top of the soil, whether in a pot or a marked place so you find it easily outside.
  • Once the plantlets begin to root, move to the location where you would like Mother of Thousands to grow. You may choose to continue moving to larger pots as the plant grows. Usually, the plant will grow to about a foot, up to 3 feet is possible.
  • If you live in USDA Zones 9-11, Mother of Thousands can live outside. Otherwise, the plant will grow better inside.

Growing Mother of Thousands: Plant Care Tips

  • Do not over water. Let soil get moderately dry between waterings but not completely dried out.
  • You may fertilize, but just during Mother of Thousands growing season. Even then, only every three months, March through September. So, for example, fertilize, if you like, March, June and September only or even just once or twice during that time. Dilute the fertilizer in half compared to what’s recommended for most plants. (FertaFlow is OMRI listed fertilizer for organic growing by Geoponics.)
  • Plants are more likely to bloom outside in USDA zones 9-11 or similar. They are originally from Madagascar.
  • Since Mother of Thousands propagates so easily in these areas, be careful tending to the plant. It may be best not to sweep her plantlets outside, especially if you’re located farther outside of an urban area where propagation is most likely. This way, you don’t accidentally over-propagate this plant in the countryside. This could create a pest of her. In some areas, Mother of Thousands can become invasive.
  • Mother of Thousands likes a lot of indirect sunlight.

Names for Mother of Thousands

I called her Plant of a Thousand Mothers. She is commonly called Mother of Thousands. Other names people call this plant species are: Bryophyllum daigremontianum, Kalanchoe daigremontiana, alligator plant, devil’s backbone or Mexican hat plant. For this blog, with the Mother of Thousands story, we prefer that common name. But, it’s also a joy to share her many nicknames.

Keep following our blog for garden tips, including for large community gardens, small container gardens and farms. We even have lawn tips. Stay tuned and follow us on social. Please share with us your stories, tips, success and challenges. Look forward to seeing you there on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.