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

Many of us have studied the reproduction of plants in school, but not everyone can recall the subject matter. Maybe you don’t remember, and that’s totally fine. You can start learning more about succulents and how they reproduce in this post.

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 can reproduce both sexually and asexually.

How do Succulents Reproduce?

Succulents reproduce either sexually or asexually. When a plant propagation happens without pollination, it is considered to be asexual reproduction. However, if pollination occurs and propagation occurs through a seed, it is considered to be sexual reproduction

Asexual vs Sexual Reproduction

Sexual reproduction requires genetic material from the parents to occur. 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.

If you’re wondering how sexual reproduction occurs in plants, I can help you out. When a flower gets pollinated through an insect, it receives DNA from another flower. This creates the conditions necessary for reproduction to occur. Once the process happens, the formation of a fruit and seed can occur.

The resultant seed will not be like any of its parent plants, even though it’ll have the genetic material of both of them. This is how genetic diversity occurs. Genetic diversity is essential because the new seed will adapt and have an enhanced likelihood of surviving if the environment changes.

Sexual reproduction is only possible due to the help of many kinds of insects, the pollinators, who 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. In other words, the plant propagates itself.

In this case, there’s no genetic diversity. In succulents, this means reproducing by cuttings, offsets, and seeds generated without fertilization. Such methods 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. However, most succulents can reproduce both sexually and asexually.

Succulents’ environment

Most succulents are from hostile environments, which is why succulents need multiple ways to reproduce. Having more possibilities to propagate their species is inherently part of their reproduction system. They need to guarantee their propagation even under unpreferable conditions of soil, water, light, and temperature.

Seeds

Reproducing by seeds is a type of sexual reproduction that requires another succulent’s genes to occur. Usually, a flower that an insect pollinates is involved for this seed to form.

Succulents seeds often are on the flower’s base and are stimulated by water to germinate. When a succulent reproduces by seeds, they take longer to bloom. They take the longest time when compared to the other types of reproduction.

seeds of succulents

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

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

Offsets

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

In nature, pups are taken away and set on the earth to grow into new plants.

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. The plant will, however, recover and begin growing again.

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

Difference Between Reproducing in Nature and Indoor Situations

The most significant difference is that in nature, succulent reproduction is mainly 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 face harsh conditions and still manage to grow. In nature, many succulent parts, seeds, and pups are distributed all over the place and under different conditions. The plant gets a lot of chances to propagate somewhere. Therefore, the probability of reproducing multiplicates for them.

All of these methods can be used to reproduce plants indoors. 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.

If you are patient with your succulents, you can even attempt to pollinate them yourself. All you have to do Is take pollen from one flower with a brush and move it over to another flower. The idea is to aid the process of pollination. Wait for the formation of fruits which you’ll open carefully with warm water.

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

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

Keep reading

Succulents reproduce both sexually and asexually. They can be propagated through seeds, offset division, and cuttings.

If you’re into succulents like me, don’t stop here. I love to share my journey with fellow succulent lovers! I recommend you head over to our post about propagating succulents.

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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