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Hello! My name is Ms. Kate, and this is Gardening with Ms. Kate! In this episode, we will be talking about “pups.” No, not pups like dogs; even though that would be a great read, this is all about pups that come from plants. Confused? I will explain! 

Plants have babies, but in different ways. Succulents and other non-flowering plants have their pups by budding. Succulent pups grow from their parent plant. I will show you how to safely pluck them off the parent in the video and show you the steps in the blog post. 

For this episode, our parent plant will be my cactus, Tuck. Tuck is a Moon Cactus with a bald spot. Why does he have a bald spot? My sister had a Moon Cactus of her own that had succumbed to overwatering. Its body, except for its ornate crown, had started to rot. Fun fact, Moon Cactus is two cacti in one! The hylocereus cactus and the original plant of the moon cactus are grafted together to create this unique plant! The reason for this is because the original Moon Cactus is a mutation that does not have the ability to produce chlorophyll. The two cacti are grafted to help give the Moon Cactus a second chance. 

I attempted to graft the remaining crown of my sister’s Moon Cactus to Tuck by severing the top half of his body and using the sap from him and the latter’s crown to seal the surgery. Unfortunately, the surgery did not take, and we lost my sister’s cactus (I bought her a new one, don’t worry). This is why Tuck has a bald spot (don’t tell him he’s bald, he is self-conscious about it). To offset his baldness, Tuck is constantly having pups, about two pots full of Jr. Tucks! In the video and this post, I will show you how to detach his newest pups into their pots. 

What do we do first? 

I’ll tell you! We are going to get our pups’ pots ready for the transfer. For cactus and other succulent pups, use a loose soil mix. This will help with drainage and prevent root rot. If you do not have loose soil, add rocks at the bottom of your pot to create makeshift drainage. Once the pot is all set, it is time to remove the pups from their parent plant. With cacti, I suggest using tweezers and gloves to detach them safely (In the video, I demonstrate how to detach pups with gloves). To do this, gently twist the pup off until it loosens from the parent. Take your time. It is important not to rip the pups because it can damage their growth in the future. After we have extracted the pups, it is time to plant them! 

How do you plant pups when they aren’t showing their roots? 

Easy! With these cactus pups, you just gently place them in the soil where the roots will soon sprout, on the side where there aren’t any points! After they are planted in their pots, I water them and let the cacti do the rest. I would water the pups every one or two weeks like other cacti species and keep an eye as they develop (A trick I have picked up is to use a pen, toothpick, or ruler, and stick it under the topsoil of the pot. If soil sticks to the tool you used, then your cactus can wait to be watered a little longer.) Your pups will take a while to grow into a larger plant, so be patient. This applies to yourself as well. Planting is a process, especially when you are replanting pups, so take your time, and you will be rewarded with beautiful plants!

Terms in Blog Post and Video

  • Chlorophyll: a green pigment found in plants that helps absorb light to provide energy for photosynthesis.
  • Drainage: the way to remove excess water.
  • Graft: the process of transplanting living tissue.
  • Hylocereus cactus: a night blooming cactus that is also known as a dragon fruit cactus.
  • Moon Cactus (Gymnocalycium mihanovichii):  a species of cactus from South America noted by their ornate headpieces, which is actually a mutation. The mutated version of these plants are  often grafted with the Hylocereus cactus to create what we know as the Moon Cactus.
  • Mutation: a change in the plant or animal genetics that produce unique appearances.
  • Photosynthesis: the process used by plants to light energy into chemical energy that fuels the plant.
  • Pups: the common term used for offsets or offshoots of a parent plant.

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