If you remember my post about Echevaria Propagation: Surgery and Aerial Roots, you might recognize my echevaria “Chroma” here. The downside of that little trick with removing the branching rosettes is that it left the underside of the plant remarkably bare. After dropping a few additional lower leaves, the poor thing started to look more and more like a strange, bedraggled miniature palm tree.
Since it was suffering from essentially the same thing that an etoliated plant would be, it was time to try beheading. It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like.
The idea here is to take a sterile, sharp knife or scissors and snip the rosette off the elongated step with enough leaves to support itself, and about 1/2″ of stem on the lower side. Trim the pot down to leave about 1/2″ to 1″ of stem remaining on the rooted stem. Everything else you can gently twist the leaves off any remaining stem to try propagating from the leaf.
The cut ends need to callous over; A nice trick is to take an upside down pot and insert the cut end of the stem through the hole. That keeps the stem nice and straight, avoids contact with anything that could lead to an infection, and keeps the end that you want to reroot nice and dark and cool. Below you can see two rosettes I beheaded from an echevaria “Chroma” and an echevaria “Lolo”.
The cut ends may shrivel a bit, but ideally if your cut was nice and clean with a sharp, disinfected knife, it should callous over cleanly. My Lolo cut is a little worrisome, on both ends, but the Chroma cut looks very well done. (It likely helped that the Chroma stem was thicker and woodier and didn’t “crush” as much under the scissors.)
After about a week, you can transfer the rosette to a pot of dry soil and lightly place it on top, pushing down ever so slightly to nestle the cut end into the soil. The remaining rooted stump you can water, very lightly — but keep it in a bright, warm place out of direct sunlight. Eventually, the cut rosette should root and continue growing, and the rooted stump will grow (likely several) new rosettes starting in about 2-3 weeks.