Can You Make Succulent Hybrids? 4 Steps in Making Hybrids

While succulent hybrids may sound impossible, you might be surprised to hear it’s way more common than you think. With this easy guide, you’ll be able to produce whatever succulent hybrids you want at home!

It is possible at home to create succulent hybrids. However, it is not easy. Succulent hybrids can be easily created by 1) selecting the succulents, 2) cross-pollinating the succulents, 3) collecting the hybrid seeds, and 4) eventually processing the hybrid seeds.

There are over 10,000 succulent species in the world. Many of them can be cross-bred together to create new cultivars, which is much simpler than many realize. So let me explain how this is done and share the most popular succulent hybrids available!

Can Succulent Hybrids Be Created?

Different succulent species in the same genus can be cross-bred to develop a hybrid succulent. It is common practice to grow succulent hybrids. Also, it can be done at home.

Hybrid succulents are created by crossing two different succulents within the same family to produce a new plant species.

By doing this, you’ll be able to cross different succulents to create whatever type of succulent you wish!

It might sound like an impossible feat to perform outside a lab. But it is possible and done more often than you think. Some of your favorite succulents may even be hybrids!

This hybridization has been ongoing for decades even with non-succulent plants like philodendrons, nepenthes, roses, and even crops like tomatoes and onions.

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Not only is this hybridization deliberately done at home by hobbyists, but some hybrids can also be found in the wild. It takes a bit of effort, but the results are more than worth it!

Create Succulent Hybrids in 4 Steps

Succulent hybrids can be created by 1) selecting two mature succulents with flowers, 2) cross-pollinating their flowers, 3) collecting the hybrid seeds, and 4) processing the seeds for increased germination.

Growing hybrid succulents is relatively straightforward. But it can certainly feel complicated to novice succulent owners or hybrid makers. It’s much simpler than you think though, so don’t fret!

With this simple and detailed guide, you’ll be able to grow your own unique succulent cultivars at home.

1. Select the Succulents

To create a new succulent hybrid, choose at least two mature succulents to crossbreed. For optimum success, select plants that have frequent blooms and are in the same genus.

If you like the pastel colors of Graptopetalum but enjoy the tree-like growth of Crassula ovata, you can try to crossbreed the two for a more vibrant jade plant!

As long as the plants are mature enough to form flowers, you can use whatever succulents you want!

However, it’s best to try and crossbreed succulents within the same family, like Crassulaceae or Asphodelaceae. The closer the connection is between the two plants, the more likely they’ll successfully hybridize.

Another factor to consider is each succulent’s bloom cycle. Different succulents will have different bloom cycles, which can be tricky to handle when you’re cross-pollinating them. Once more, the closer the succulents are, the more likely they’ll bloom at the same time.

Echeverias are Easy Succulents to Hybridize
Echeverias are Easy Succulents to Hybridize

Hens and chicks are generous growers but beware of monocarpic succulents like these.

Monocarpic succulents will only bloom once in their lifetime before dying and are much harder for beginners to crossbreed.

2. Cross-Pollinate the Succulents

With a clean and soft paintbrush, dab the pollen from the first succulent plant’s flowers into the other succulent flowers. Repeat the process for all of the flowers for higher success. Outdoor plants must be covered to prevent other pollen from disrupting the hybridization.

Once your favorite succulents have bloomed, it’s time to cross them!

Succulents don’t seem to self-pollinate very often, so there’s no need to cut away any male flower parts like in typical plant hybridization.

All you need to do is spread the pollen from one succulent to the receiving flower of another.

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Using a sterile paintbrush, gently rub it inside the flowers of your first succulent to collect the pollen. This pollen can be moved to the second succulent by brushing it into their open flowers.

Pro Tip: Use a small, soft-bristled paintbrush with a round tip to cross-pollinate succulents. Succulent flowers are small and delicate and are easily broken by large or stiff brushes.

Repeat this process with as many flowers as you can. If this is an outdoor succulent, cover the cross-pollinated flowers afterward to prevent unwanted pollen from entering.

3. Collect the Hybrid Seeds

After the succulents have successfully hybridized, the flowers will develop new succulent hybrid seeds. To prevent losing any seeds, watch the flowers daily and wait for them to dry before harvesting.

A few weeks after the cross-pollination, the receiving flower should start to swell. This is a sign that the plant ovaries were successfully pollinated and are now developing a new seed pod!

Wait for the seed pods to dry and finish developing before you harvest them. How quickly the seeds dry will depend on the plant.

Wait for the Hybrid Seeds to Dry
Wait for the Hybrid Seeds to Dry

Each succulent matures at different times, so try to watch them daily to avoid losing any valuable seeds.

Once the flowers and seed pods are brown and dry, you can collect the individual seed pods. Alternatively, you can remove the whole flower stem if all the flowers are dry.

There’s all there is to it. Congratulations, you’ve harvested your first succulent hybrid seeds!

Now, you can either toss these entire seed pods into the soil, or you can process them, so you have nothing but pure seeds.

4. Process the Hybrid Seeds (Optional)

To encourage germination, succulent seeds can be cleaned and extracted. Place a strainer over some white paper and crush the seed pods over the strainer. Collect the tiny succulent hybrid seeds and store them in a dry resealable bag.

By extracting the seeds from the pods, it’ll be easier for them to grow than if they were encased in dried flowers. This step isn’t a requirement, but it’ll give you an extra boost in successfully growing hybrid succulents.

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To process the seeds, simply take the seed pods and flowers and gently crush them with your fingers over a strainer on top of a white piece of paper. The strainer will catch the petals, while the seeds will fall to the paper.

Succulent seeds usually look like tiny black specks of dust, so be careful!

Pro Tip: Before processing the seeds, fold the paper in half to create a crease. After the seeds are extracted, fold the paper in half again and funnel it into a resealable plastic bag.

Store the seeds in a cool and dry place until it’s ready to be used. If you can’t wait, go ahead and immediately plant them for a new succulent hybrid!

The 5 Most Popular Succulent Hybrids

There are 5 very popular succulent hybrids: 1) the Pachyveria ‘Powder Puff’, 2) the Graptosedum ‘Alpenglow’, 3) Sedeveria ‘Blue Elf’, 4) Gasteraloe ‘Royal Princess, and 5) Aloe ‘Bright Star’.

Succulent hybrids can be found in plant nurseries all over the world, whether we realize it or not! It’s surprising, but many of the beloved succulents we know of today are actually hybridized results of different succulent species that were cross-bred together.

Check out the 5 most popular succulent hybrids below!

1. Pachyveria ‘Powder Puff’

The powder puff succulent is a famous hybrid known for its pink-tipped leaves of blue and green. It was created by hybridizing Echeveria with Pachyphytum. This succulent grows best with 8 hours of filtered light.

The most popular cultivar that I can think of is the powder puff. These delightful succulents combine the plump leaves of Pachyphytum with the rosette nature of Echeveria.

Powder Puff Succulent Hybrid
Powder Puff Succulent Hybrid

It’s undeniably easy on the eyes with light bluish-green hues and subtle pink tints on the edges. Its natural protective wax coating, or farina, gives it a white powdery look.

Succulents usually change color depending on the environment they’re grown in. But this hybrid was created to maintain its pastel look all year round. It’s one of my favorites!

But for it to grow into a healthy and beautiful hybrid, make sure to give it at least 8 hours of bright, dappled sunlight.

2. Graptosedum ‘Alpenglow’

Graptosedum alpenglow is a succulent hybrid created by cross-breeding Graptopetalum and Sedum. Like Sedum, it is a trailing plant and has pink foliage similar to Graptopetalum. Grow alpenglow in strong light and protect it from frost.

This warm succulent stands out against all the typical green houseplants. It has a pinkish-red haze and is also known as Graptosedum bronze due to its pleasant hues.

While young, it will grow neat rosettes close to the soil. But as it matures, the stems will grow tall and start to trail. Combined with its triangular leaves, this hybrid has astonishing architecture!

Alpenglow Succulent Hybrid
Alpenglow Succulent Hybrid

To help it maintain its vibrancy, it’s recommended to give this hybrid at least 8 hours of strong light and bring it indoors during the winter.

Once you’re familiar with its plant parents, Graptopetalum and Sedum, you’ll be able to detect the similarities between the two. As a hybrid of the two, alpenglow has the same leaf formation as Graptopetalum and the growing habits of Sedum.

3. Sedeveria ‘Blue Elf’

Blue elf succulents are a cross between Echeverias and Sedums. They are common 4-inch succulent hybrids with red leaf edges, which are often found in plant nurseries. For good growth, keep it in 8 hours of partial sunlight and gritty soil.

Another beloved hybrid is this enchanting succulent commonly known as a “happy plant” due to its easy-growing nature and how frequently it flowers.

When properly cared for, the succulent will develop bright red spots at the end of its pale green leaves.

Keep it in well-draining soil, like cactus soil, with perlite and pumice to help prevent its fleshy leaves from turning soft and yellow.

Blue Elf Succulent Hybrid
Blue Elf Succulent Hybrid

Echeverias tend to have symmetrical leaf growth, while Sedums grow plump leaves on their stems. Cross these two species together, and you’ll have Sedeveria!

This succulent rarely grows bigger than 4 inches (10.16 cm), which is why it’s called an elf.

Besides that, it readily multiplies and produces offsets, making it easier for folks to expand their hybrid collection. Place this succulent and its offsets in partial sun for 8 hours.

4. Gasteraloe ‘Royal Princess’

Succulent hybrids made from Aloe and Gasteria plants are known as Gasteraloe. It is commonly cultivated for its sharp rigid leaves and white dots. Water this succulent monthly and keep it out of direct, afternoon sunlight.

If this reminds you of aloe vera, that’s because Aloe is one of the parents of this hybrid!

This curious hybrid is the child of Gasteria and Aloe succulents. It may even look similar to Haworthia, another closely related succulent, but it’s an entirely different plant.

Royal Princess Succulent Hybrid
Royal Princess Succulent Hybrid

Gasteraloe can be identified by its white dots or pale freckles. Thanks to its Gasteria and Aloe heritage, its leaves are stiff and pointed, making it much less delicate than other succulents.

The royal princess cultivar looks similar to a crown and is found in many plant stores. This plant is often killed by overwatering, so water it only once a month.

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Make sure to also protect your Gasteraloe from direct afternoon sun exposure to prevent its leaves from being bleached.

5. Aloe ‘Bright Star’

The Aloe bright star is a famous succulent hybrid that resembles a star and has unique serrated leaves with red and pink tips. Its parent plants are known to be Aloe, but the exact specimens used to make this hybrid are still uncertain. Bright star grows best with 6 hours of full sun and infrequent watering.

Finally, we have the Aloe bright star. This is yet another interesting-looking succulent hybrid you may have heard of.

Unlike the other plants on this list, its parentage is unknown.

For years, there have been plenty of aloe hybrids, so this plant may be a hybrid made from other hybrids!

This alien-like plant usually doesn’t grow taller or wider than 4 inches (10.16 cm). Its red-edged leaves have toothy edges that add to their spiky appearance.

Give it at least 6 hours of full sun to maintain its gorgeous patterns and let it dry before watering again.

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3 Common Challenges in Growing Hybrid Succulents

The 3 most common challenges people face when growing succulent hybrids are 1) different bloom seasons, 2) long processes, and 3) inconsistent results.

It’s exciting to grow your own succulent variety, no doubt about that. However, just like everything else, it comes with its own set of difficulties. Before you attempt to do this at home, look over these frequently faced issues in creating succulent hybrids.

1. Different Bloom Seasons

The most common issue in growing succulent hybrids is attempting to crossbreed plants that flower at separate seasons. This can be remedied by saving the pollen from one succulent to crossbreed the other, but the pollen will not be as viable.

This is the number one problem that succulent owners face when they attempt to cross-pollinate ones with different blooming periods.

It’s challenging when your selected succulents have widely different bloom cycles that are months or even years away from each other. However, it’s not impossible!

When this happens, you can collect the pollen from the first succulent bloom with a brush and store it in a clean and sealed plastic bag. The pollen will remain on the brush.

Once the other succulent develops flowers, you can dab the pollen from the old brush onto the ovaries. This is a convenient fix, although not very ideal.

Depending on how long it’s been, the pollen may lose its potency. You might not have as much pollen as you need either. This hampers your overall chances of success, but it is an unfortunately common concern in breeding succulent hybrids.

2. Long Process

Creating succulent hybrids can be a slow and extensive process. Aside from waiting for flowers to open and form new seeds, the hybrid owner must wait for the seeds to grow for weeks or months.

Many succulents can grow quite slowly. They may not be as slow as cacti perhaps, but they can still take some time.

Not only would you have to wait for the succulents to bloom. You need to have enough patience to wait for seeds to germinate and grow as well. It’s not instantaneous—it may take several weeks.

Lithops are difficult to make hybrid succulents with. They generally only bloom annually and their seeds can take more than a year to germinate.

Patience truly is needed for plant care. When making hybrids, patience becomes an even bigger need, so be prepared to wait more often than you’d like.

3. Inconsistent Results

Hybrid plants have a reputation for being unstable and inconsistent. In many cases, the seeds and offsets will all look varied rather than identical. This can be problematic for those looking for stable hybrid plants.

Although hybrids are fascinating, the downside is that they can be unpredictable. It might take a few tries of crossbreeding succulents to achieve your desired results.

Sometimes, even if you create your desired succulent, its offsets and seeds may not look the same as either parent plants. Each of them will be different.

It’s a bit of a gamble. Plus, it can take months or even longer to achieve the exact hybrid you want.

So be sure to give it plenty of thought and decide whether this mad-scientist practice of creating hybrids is for you or not!

FAQs

How can you make a hybrid cactus?

It is possible to create hybrid cacti, but the process is even slower and more tedious than hybridizing succulents or regular houseplants. Cacti can take years to mature and grow and often don’t flower indoors, making it challenging to cross-pollinate them and create hybrid cacti.

How do you make variegated succulents?

Variegated succulent hybrids can be made by crossbreeding existing variegated plants together. The Anacampseros rufescens is a popular variegated succulent with pink and purple hues that can be used as a parent to form a variegated hybrid. Another example would be the Graptopetalum Paraguayense, an interesting hybrid with light and dark petals.

Summary of Making Succulent Hybrids

Succulents of different species can be cross-bred together to create new succulent hybrids.

It is a popular practice to cross-pollinate different succulents to grow new hybrids as it can easily be done at home by selecting mature succulents with flowers, cross-pollinating them, collecting their seeds, and extracting the seeds from their pods to grow a new plant.

Succulent hybrids are commonly grown and sold in stores include the Pachyveria powder puff, Graptosedum alpenglow, Sedeveria blue elf, Gasteraloe royal princess, and Aloe bright star.

However, it can be difficult to create new succulent hybrids due to common issues such as the succulents blooming at different times, the overall length of time of the hybridizing process, and inconsistent results.

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