Is Succulents' Reproduction Sexual or Asexual?
The Complete Answer Backed With Science

Succulents reproduction is interesting because it can happen both sexually and asexually. Most succulents have both means of reproduction.

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Jimena Bolívar

April 19, 2021


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Introduction

All of us have studied about plants’ reproduction in middle school, but not everyone can recall it. Maybe you don’t remember it– and that’s totally fine, so I’ll dive deeper into the explanation.

Asexual reproduction is the type of reproduction the succulent does by itself, without being pollinated. When there’s pollination, reproduction is considered to be sexual. Succulents present both types of reproduction.

Asexual vs Sexual Reproduction

Sexual reproduction requires genetic material from the parents (DNA). Plants do have male and female parts, and the combination of the DNA of each of these parts produces offspring. This process is called fertilization.

This seed will not be like any of its parents, even that it’ll have the genetic material of both of them. This is how genetic diversity happens. Genetic diversity is important because if the environment changes, the succulents will foster the ability to adapt.

Sexual reproduction is only possible due to the help of many kinds of insects, the pollinators, which carry pollen between plants. Once the succulent is pollinated, it will produce the seeds and store them inside of a fruit.

bee

Asexual reproduction requires the DNA of only one parent. This means the plant can propagate itself.

In this case, there’s no genetic diversity. In succulents, this means reproducing by cuttings, offsets, and even having seeds – generated without fertilization. That will produce a succulent that is genetically identical to the parent.

The main advantage of asexual reproduction is that plants will mature faster than those generated by sexual reproduction since they are rising from a mature plant.

Another advantage of asexual reproduction is that it costs less to the plant than sexual reproduction. It doesn’t require the plant to produce a flower, attract pollinators, and find means to spread the seeds all over the place.

In nature, asexual reproduction doesn’t happen as often as sexual reproduction. But it doesn’t affect them a lot since most succulents can reproduce both sexually and asexually.

Succulents’ environment

Most succulents are from hostile environments, and this is why they need to be able to reproduce. Having more possibilities to propagate their species is inherently part of their reproduction system. They need to have it to guarantee their propagation even under extreme conditions of soil, water, light, and temperature.

Seeds

Considered as sexual reproduction, reproducing by seeds will require the genes of another succulent that’s pollinated from any kind of insect.

Succulents seeds often are on the flower’s base and are stimulated by water to germinate. When they reproduce by seeds, they take longer to bloom. It’s the biggest time when compared to the other reproduction systems.

seeds of succulents

An example of a plant that can germinate from seeds is lithops. When their flowers bloom, they are pollinated, and the seeds get stored in a capsule. The seeds will start to grow once they are sowed in moisturized soil.

This process is fairly common in nature, but it’s not so common with domestic succulents. It takes a lot of effort to cross-pollinate the flowers. The result of cross-pollination is uncertain, and it takes so much time that most people will instead rely on seeds.

Offsets

Offsets are baby succulents that grow from a mother plant. They’ll often have its own roots and look like a separated plant.

In nature, these pups are taken away and set on the earth to grow into new plants. Reproducing by offsets is also a popular way to propagate succulents, and you can read more about it in this post.

kalanchoe's offsets

Some plants produce the offsets both on the leaves and underground. For plants like Aloe, it’s underground. But for plants like Kalanchoe, it’s on the leaves.

Cuttings

Cuttings happen a lot in nature, and a lot of succulents reproduce by this system. Propagation through this method occurs when either a leaf or a stem is cut off and grown elsewhere.

This kind of reproduction is only possible because of the capacity succulents have to regenerate when being damaged. Succulents can accidentally get broken by an animal, and from it, it’ll grow a new plant.

Good examples of plants that easily display cutting reproduction are Echeveria and Sedum.

Difference Between Reproducing in Nature and Domestic Situations

The biggest difference is that in nature, succulent reproduction mostly influenced by their environment. An animal can cut a part of it off; insects will pollinate the flowers, and offsets will be separated by natural forces such as wind.

Maybe you’re wondering why the succulents you propagate aren’t germinating since, in nature, they do face harsh conditions and still manage to do it. In nature, many succulents’ parts, seeds, and pups are being distributed all over the place and under different conditions. The probability of reproducing multiplicates for them.

All of these methods can be used to reproduce plants domestically. However, it would help if you were kind to your plant. Take care with how you approach the task and use tools like sterile scissors if needed.

Conclusion

There are many differences between sexual and asexual reproduction, and learning more about it made me feel even more interested in succulents.

It’s amazing how we can learn from nature and replicate the process of reproduction to propagate our succulents at home – read this post to learn how.

Having the appropriate technique and being patient can even act as a pollinator and pollinate your own plants. For this, simply take the pollen from one flower to the other with a brush, waiting for it to turn into capsules inside fruits that you’ll open carefully with warm water.

Once you open the fruit and face the seeds, you can start the fun by planting them in the soil and watering them as recommended for the given succulent.

Watching this process unravel on your own will help you understand plant’s sexual reproduction better. Hopefully, you’ll even get a new and unique succulent while you’re at it.

Understanding how succulents reproduce will allow you to play and make your own succulents mix, granting you a unique collection.

Keep reading

If you’re into succulents like me, don’t stop here. I love to share my journey with fellow succulent lovers! There’s a lot more on this blog that might interest you, so pick one of the links below and let’s dive together into this awesome succulents’ world!

When is the Best Time to Propagate Succulents? Vital things to know!

Have you been asking, when is the best time to propagate succulents? Is it possible to propagate succulents all year round? Here are the vital things to know.

Which are the most exotic succulents in the world? You will love each one of them

Some of the most exotic succulents are Othonna Capensis, Pachyphytum Compactum, Sedum Mocinianum, Haworthia Truncata v. Maughai, Adromischus Maculatus, Echeveria x. Imbricate, Gymnocalycium Mihanovinchi, Haworthia Cuspidata Variegate, Aeonium, Crassula Umbella, Pleiospilos Nelii, Sempervivum, Euphoria Obese, Adromischus Cristatus, and Faucaria Tigrina

Jimena Bolívar Picture

By Jimena Bolívar

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Jimena and I'm the the founder of Easy Succulents! I'm fascinated by this wonderful plants and I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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Jimena Bolívar Picture

Jimena Bolívar

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Jimena and I'm the the founder of Easy Succulents! I'm fascinated by this wonderful plants and I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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