The sale of succulents and indoor house plants has gone up, up, up, according to the US Department of Commerce. In 2016, six million Americans took up some form of gardening. A significant portion of those people—five million—were between the ages of 18 to 34, but plants are a fantastic pastime no matter your age!
Not ready for kids or a puppy? Buy a plant. Got a birthday party to attend? Stick a bow on a plant and call it a day.
But there's something new we all need to learn more about: hybrid succulents.
You may know your philodendron, your pothos, your snake plants—but this fresh and interesting cross-breeding of plants has gotten many people excited.
What are they? How do you create one? What are some of the most popular varietals? We answer all these questions and more in this plant-y guide. Keep reading!
What Are Hybrid Succulents, Exactly?
Hybrid succulents are precisely what the name suggests.
It's two succulents of different species, cross-bred, to create an entirely new species of succulent. This practice allows you to make custom varietals that you've maybe never seen before (or have seen—but didn't know what you were looking at!).
You can also cross-breed based on the genus of the plant rather than its species. Plants of the same genus are likely to mix well, as they have similar characteristics already. By doing this, you can change your plant to better, different, and maybe even sturdier than its parent plants, depending on what your intentions are.
Once two plants are cross-bred, you now get the pleasure of making a new name for them. You can combine the two names into one; you can consider them plant name x plant name; or, you can make up a fun label that's completely new.
How Do You Create a Hybrid Succulent?
Practicing hybridization involves cross-pollinating your succulents. It's tricky, but we'll try our best to explain it.
Because of this, it's necessary to cross-pollinate using an already-bloomed plant. The best part is that the following rules and guidelines apply to any types of succulents you're attempting to cross-pollinate.
You'll first need to pollinate the succulent on your choice with your other succulent of choice. This practice is relatively simple.
Take a soft, small brush (like a paintbrush) or Q-tip and place it inside one flower, gathering its pollen, and transfer that to another succulent's flower. This should create a cross-pollinated seed pod, too, the seeds of which you can plant. If your succulents each have more than one flower, you can do this for each flower.
You'll want to keep your 'new' plant in semi-isolation to avoid it getting contaminated with the pollen from a different plant (that is unless you're feeling really experimental!).
Unfortunately, you won't be able to tell right away if the cross-breeding has worked or not. You'll have to wait until the plant matures a bit, and then identify your success based on what it looks like.
Some of the Most Popular Hybrids
There are so many crosses of succulents, and likely more getting created as you read this!
Some of the most popular hybrids in existence right now are:
- Any varietal of Echeveria, as these are very easy to cross-pollinate
- Graptosedum, which stands for 'California sunset.' If you make a cross-breed of this, propagate it!
- Sedeveria, which is a cross of Sedum and Echeveria
- Gasteraloe, which is a Gasteria x aloe
If you notice any nomenclature ending in 'veria,' you'll know it's been cross-bred with an Echeveria. As we mentioned, these are a fantastic plant to cross-breed, and you'll likely discover that many plant owners use it when growing hybrid succulents.
This list is certainly not exhaustive. There are several popular hybrid succulent plants. Once you understand the names, you'll be able to break down their species or genera easily.
Common Problems With Hybrids
What are the most common problems when attempting hybridization? You'll be happy to learn that the most prevalent issues are straightforward—time and unpredictability. If those two things don't worry you, then you don't have much to worry about!
You'll have to wait a while to see if your cross-breeding has worked. It may take some time (think: the average time it takes a succulent to grow and mature) before you notice whether the new plant is cross-pollinated. Once it has grown enough for you to tell, you'll learn right away whether your process worked.
Perhaps it worked to your expectations—if so, congrats! Maybe it cross-bred, but turned out differently than you expected it to (and that's okay). Or, perhaps it didn't work at all, and all that waiting was for, well, nothing.
Even still, you'll have learned along the way. Perhaps your brush didn't have enough pollen on it to pollinate the other. Run through your process and try to identify any pitfalls.
One way to save the problem of unpredictability is by trying this process with a few plants at once. The more you're attempting to hybridize, the better your odds of having one that meets your expectations.
Hybrid Succulents can be Sensitive
For many reasons that we won't get into, we find that hybrid succulents can be very sensitive to sunlight and touch.
The most successful cross-breeds out there took lots of time and testing to ensure they could function like any other succulent on the market.
Some of the most gorgeous succulents on the market are cross-breeds and crazy sensitive to direct sunlight. It'll take some time to fully understand what they want. This may result in dead succulents after all the time and effort.
Bonus tip: don't forget to label each pot with what hybrids you're attempting so that you don't forget!
Are You Ready to Experiment?
Hybrid succulents are so fun. You'll love caring for them, showing them off to your plant-loving friends, and maybe even creating your own someday. We can help you get started on your cross-breeding journey!
Click here to peruse our selection of hybrids, and let us know if you have any questions.