By: Margaret & Derek Butcher

Pups, offsets, or Kikis

Your collection can be increased by the judicious removal of offsets that are freely produced when the "Mother" plant reaches maturity. Sometimes, offsets are produced before flowering but mainly they occur after flowering has commenced. The first offset produced is generally the strongest and most likely to survive. Giving extra fertiliser can give more offsets but remember that in most cases you only need one or two to maintain your collection.

We will only be giving you examples based on the more common detachments.

1. Don't be too quick in removing offsets. You may get more this way but they take longer to root and your losses can be high. This photo shows a too-small offset (o1) o1o1
2. This is about the right size (o2)o2o2
3. Remove offset from "Mother" using secateurs. A sharp knife can be used but the stems can be woody and tough to cut. Remember to cut vertically. (o3) o3o3
4. You should have an offset like this (o4) . If it does not have a solid base AND you have a hand-full of leaves then you have cut it wrongly and will need to start on another offset! We suggest that this time you remove the plant from the pot so you can see what you are doing. o4o4
5. Plants with long stolons are easier to remove. o5 (o5)
but you will have problems with this long appendage so cut it off! o6(o6)
6. Vrieseas.
Throw away your secateurs and get your wrists working. Carefully twist and prise the offset (o7)
until it can be pulled away from "Mother". This way you will notice the offset has a few roots at the base (o8) o8o8
which are not there from your secateur job (o3). These offsets seem to root easier this way. o3o3
7. Place your offsets in potting mix in a pot and wait to root. Rooting seems to occur quicker if the offsets are placed at the side of the pot. (o9) with the base just below soil level. Perlite or vermiculite can be used as a rooting medium. You can also use a hormone rooting powder if you are really keen but this is generally unnecessary. o9o9
A few more notes.

Cryptanthus seem to drop offsets easily and where the more difficult job is keeping the base of the offset in contact with the soil. This can be achieved by putting a rubber-band over plant and pot!

Dyckia offsetDyckia offset Dyckias are prickly and difficult to deal with . The best way is to remove the plant from the pot and start from the bottom! Remove the smaller offsets around the base. Some may even be large enough to use. Invariably you have 2, 3, or 4 main plants very close together. If you remove the dead leaves at the base you will get closer to your objective. The judicious use of a sharp knife can see you with separate plants, each with its own set of roots. (if you are lucky).

Orthophytum invariably have a long underground rhizome which needs to be severed. However, the offset usually has roots already. Sometimes vivaparous offsets occur in the flower-head. Don't be too anxious to remove these because the longer they stay there the greater are their chances of survival. That is of course if you want that many plants in the first place!

Puyas are big and prickly and you generally need a sharp spade and a strong foot. However, many species are reluctant to root so it may be necessary to resort to seed raising.

Tillandsia has been covered in the Article on "Mounting"

If you have any tips to expand this section we will be pleased to hear from you.