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Offsets and suckers

Haworthia is easily propagated from offsets or suckers
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Josée Bouthot)
Haworthia sp.

Many plants produce offsets and suckers that will grow to become identical to the parent plant. Bromeliads, Cacti and succulents usually reproduce in this way. Offsets appear on the plant’s roots or stem, while suckers form on the roots and produce aerial shoots.


Bromeliads produce offsets shortly before or after they bloom. Once the offset is well developed, i.e. once it has formed a rosette of leaves, it can be separated from the parent plant. If the offset is removed too early, however, it may not form any roots or it may be slow to do so. Cut off the offset as close as possible to the parent plant. If there are several offsets, they can all be used provided they are all well developed.

Place them in small pots with a well-drained horticultural or sphagnum moss-based rooting mix. Keep the mix moist but not drenched. It is best to cover newly potted offsets with a clear plastic bag. Once it resumes growing, feed it every other week with highly diluted fertilizer. Small pots are best for these plants because they produce few roots.

Another option is to separate and remove the parent plant after it blooms and allow the offsets to grow without needing to be transplanted.

Offsets and suckers

Examples of Bromeliads that are easily propagated from offsets or suckers:

Cacti and succulents

Many Cacti species produce offsets that are easy to separate and replant. If you find them difficult to separate from the parent plant, use a sharp knife. Allow the wound to heal for a few days or the offsets may rot.

Transfer the offsets to small pots, inserting them carefully into the rooting mix, just deep enough to keep them standing.

Use a sand-based mix and keep it barely moist for the next few weeks. Keep the pots in a bright spot, out of direct sunlight. Within a few weeks, once the young plants have rooted, provide them with the same care as adult specimens.

Examples of Cacti and succulents that are easily propagated from offsets or suckers:

Tropical plants

Some tropical plants, from various families, produce offsets or suckers.

Separate them once they are well developed, being careful not to damage the roots.

Plant them individually in 8 to 15 cm pots filled with a mix of equal parts peat moss and perlite (or coarse sand).

Cover the young plant with a plastic bag and keep it in a bright spot for several weeks. Make a few holes in the bag to allow the plant to breathe. 

Then gradually loosen and remove the plastic to acclimatize the plant to the ambient air.

Once the offset or sucker is well rooted, transplant it, using an appropriate type of potting soil. Then provide it with the same care as an adult plant.

Examples of tropical plants that are easily propagated from offsets or suckers:

Illustration: Espace pour la vie/Audrey Desaulniers

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