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Published on May 10th, 2016 | by karabogaenes_m4a5dd08

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[Complete Guide] How to Propagate Succulents from Leaves and Cuttings w/ Pictures

Succulents are awesome! They are beautiful, hardy, good for both indoors and outdoors. And best of all, succulents are very easy to propagate. Many popular succulent genera such as Echeverias and Sedums, can easily be propagated from the leaves, while some others need cuttings.

What you need to do is simply pluck off several leaves from the bottom of the plant, let them be calloused on a dry surface. Then transfer the leaves to the soil. After several weeks, you’ll have your babies!

Same applies to the cuttings. Just pick a healthy stem, cut it with a sharp knife. Then leave it to dry out a couple of days before you put it in the soil.

Before we get into details, I want to let you know that even though it seems very straightforward to propagate succulents, there are parts you need to be very careful not to infect or worse yet, kill your plants!

That’s why, before you start the process, make sure you read the tips I am about to give you!

Let’s start!

How does a Succulent Propagate?

As all the living organisms, plants want to multiply their genes too. It is a survival necessity. A cell or tissue of the main body generates a new organism by a specific way depending on to the species.

Some types of rare succulents need a little encouragement to be saved from extinction. But some common types propagate so easy and quick, by themselves if not by you. For example, Sempervivums are a genus of succulent plants and all of these species have a reputation because they multiply even without you realize. For that reason, Sempervivum succulents are called “Hens and Chicks” commonly.

Sempervivum tectorum

In particular for the succulent plants, there are four main ways they multiply themselves: via seeds, offsets, leaves, and cuttings.

Seed Propagation

A lot of types of succulents are flowering plants. And that means they produce seeds by their flowers.

Reproducing succulents from the seeds is kind of a tricky method to get success at home. This method is generally used by the industrial and commercial producers.

Many species do not have the seeds that are capable of growing a new plant. They need to be pollinated with another plant from the same species. At home, you can try keeping two or more of your succulents together in a room. By chance, your seeds will grow successfully if they are pollinated with the airway.

Pretty flowers of succulents, that are forming in many appealing shapes and colors with tasty sap and charming scent, are not just for decoration. These blooms are for taking attention from insects and flies, which are the great helpers of pollination.

Offset Propagation

Succulents are often propagated via offsets. Some species of them actually multiply in a blink of an eye. The mother plant grows little babies from the same root.

Ground covering succulents, like Sempervivums or some species of Sedums, are the most common succulents which are famous for their ability for producing offsets. They multiply themselves and cover the surface of their pots or the gardens. Haworthia, or in another name Zebra Plant gives offsets very frequently.

Zebra Plant (Haworthia)

For the new plants growing out of a mother plant, you do not have to do anything. This can happen even you do not notice between two irrigations. But you can split the baby succulents from the main plant and grow a completely new succulent in a new pot.

Take the roots out of the soil first. Gently, shake off the soil to uncover the roots of your plant. Pick a clean and sharp cutter and cut the roots right in between two stems. You can also try separating by pulling them with hands, but be careful to not to disturb the leaves.

You can directly replant the offsets to a brand new planter.

Propagating with Leaves and Cuttings

A lot of succulents that we care at our homes and gardens are propagated mostly with the leaves and cuttings. This way is so much easier and quick when compared to seeds propagation. And you do not have to wait for the plant to give offsets.

Before You Start: Give ‘Em a Good Watering!

While it is not “a must”, it is highly recommended that you water your succulents a night before you propagate. This is helpful because leaves will come off easier, and there will be enough water for your baby succulents growing from the leaves.

How to Propagate from Leaves?

Leaf propagation is a miracle. Think about this, you went to a friend’s house, and loved their echeveria! It is not always appropriate to ask for the cutting let alone the plant! All you need to do is ask for a couple of leaves, then you have your own echeveria.

Or, you are at home depot and you see a couple of succulents, but you are tight on budget. All you need to do is to ask for permission to collect leaves that are already dropped from the plants. They’ll sweep the leaves off anyway. This way, you’ll get free succulents! This is one of my favorite methods to grow my succulent collection.

It is better to start plucking the leaves from the bottom leaves. Bottom leaves are bigger, healthier and have a better chance to give babies. They also come off easier than the top leaves.

Firmly hold the leaf and wiggle it slowly to remove. You need to be careful and patient doing this because you don’t want to rip the leave off. Make sure you get the entire leaf because if some part is left on the stem, your leave will rot.

After you collected several leaves, the more the better, you need to put them on a dry surface to let them dry for at least 2-3 days.

Even though some people choose to place their leaves directly on soil right after removing, I do not recommend it. Succulents are known to absorb water very well, and there is a big chance your leaves will absorb too much moisture from the soil and rot.

Time to move your leaves…

When you feel your leaves are dry enough, it is time to place them on a very well draining soil prepared for cacti and succulents. You can prepare your own by using potting soil (60%), perlite (15%), and coarse sand (25%). Or just buy ready made soil from Amazon or Home Depot.

You can find out the details of succulent soils with a few ready-made options, go ahead to my soil guide post.

Do not water leaves yet!

You should not water your leaves until you see the pink roots sprouting.

After you see the roots, you can spray water with a spray bottle daily. However, keep in mind that, baby succulents can get all the water and food from their mother leaf. So, you don’t even need to water them until their leaf is completely dried out.

It will take around 4 weeks to see your new babies come off, and after a couple of months, your babies will be young succulents. How awesome is that!

In the meantime, place your leaves away from direct sunlight preferably indoors. Sun will burn the leaves and decrease the success rate.

How to Propagate from Cuttings?

Propagating succulents from stem cuttings is one of the best options because your plant will grow much faster compared to leaf propagation.

It gives you an option to save an ill plant before it dies. Let’s say you overwatered your succulent or it is infected by pests. If there is no turning back, you can propagate a healthy cutting to grow the same succulent, instead of watching your succulent to die.

While it may take up to a year to have a full grown succulent from leaves, both stem and cuttings will produce a full grown succulent in a couple of months if not weeks.

I usually start with plucking off the bottom leaves, and after I am done removing the leaves, plants stay with a long stem and a couple of young leaves. Not a very good looking plant huh?

Luckily, we can take a cutting from the top of the plant and plant it into another pot. This way, both cutting, and the remaining stump will give new babies and handsome leaves. We’ll have two beautiful succulents.

How to Cut Your Plant?

Before you start, you are going to need a sharp knife or a pair of scissors. I will use a knife for this. Whatever you use, make sure that it is clean and dry because we don’t want to infect our plant. If you are a little more sensitive, you can use alcohol to clean your knife or scissors. Give attention that it is dry before you start cutting.

All you need to do is to take a cutting from the stem around 2-3 inches (5-7cm). Avoid taking too long or too short cuttings for aesthetics reasons 🙂

As in the leaf propagation, you need to leave your cuttings couple of days to dry. If you plant them too early, they will take too much water and dry. After waiting 3-4 days, ideally a week, you can plant them into a cactus or succulent soil.

After you set your leaves on soil, keep the soil moistured by misting daily.

Now You Are Ready!

You removed the leaves, let them dry, and put on the soil. Now you are waiting for your babies! You also had your cuttings in the soil, too. Luckily both stump and cutting will grow into a beautiful plant. The biggest tip here would be about watering: do not be too keen to water your succulents.

How to Care for Growing Succulents?

Succulents originally live in the desert. That means they don’t get much water and they are used to drought! These plants are also very good at absorbing water because they don’t have much time when it rains to get the water they need. Water will be vaporized quickly in a desert.

Because of that, when you water them too early or too much, they will absorb more water than they need and rot. Your succulents may live without water for months but too much water can kill them in a couple of days.

After the baby plants grow a bit, stop spraying the grown-up succulents because when water does not find its way to deep in the soil, roots will stay shallow. This is not an ideal situation since we need a long and healthy root system.

Protect the young succulents from cold. Better you keep them in the room temperature. You can place your newly planted succulents in a bright room, nearby a South facing window if you can.

They will thrive with partial lighting. However do not ever leave the plants exposed to the hot and direct afternoon sun. The leaves might get burned.

Frequently Asked Questions

Before I finish, I’d like to answer some questions I am asked about propagation.

How to root succulent leaves?

You can directly place leaves on a well-draining soil. Then keep leaves indoors, away from direct sunlight. You will start seeing roots in 3-4 weeks. Little roots will find their way into the sol when they grow longer.

How long does it take to propagate succulents?

Leaves will start to root in 3-4 weeks, and you will see baby succulents sprouting in 2-3 months. It would take a year to get a fully grown succulent from a leaf propagation. However, stem cuttings will grow much quicker, usually a couple of weeks.

Is it necessary to use rooting hormone for leaves?

No, it is not a necessary step. However, some people state that using rooting hormone decreases time to see roots. I never used it.

Will all leaves produce succulents?

While some leaves are able to generate a new plant, some other will die, unfortunately. My success rate is around 60%. That means, only 6 of 10 leaves produce offspring. That’s why I suggest starting with as many leaves as possible for the best results.

Unsuccessful leaves will look like this

What is the fastest way to propagate succulents?

Taking stem cuttings is the fastest way to get new plants from the mother plant. I keep one big mother plant and take cuttings time to time. While cuttings grow into a new plant, mother plant grows new stems and we can have an unlimited number of new plants!

Can I use potting or turf soil for propagation?

While some people have results, I do not recommend using turf or potting soil alone because they keep moist and good for plants that love water. You need to use a special mix for cacti and succulents.

Can I propagate all succulent from leaves?

No, not all succulents can be propagated from leaves. For example, while Echeveria and Sedum are perfect for leaf propagation, you need cuttings for Aeonium genus. For Haworthia (zebra succulent), you will need offsets to propagate.

Cheatsheet

  • Water your plant a day before you start leaf propagation.
  • Pluck off the leaves starting from the button. Make sure you get the full leaf without breaking the tip. If you break the leaf tip, your leaf will rot.
  • Let the leaves and cuttings calloused for a couple of days.
  • Place leaves on a succulent soil mix and set it to a place where they can indirect sunlight.
  • Mist soil daily after you set the leaves on the soil.
  • Make sure you use a quick drying soil.
  • You will see pink roots after a couple of weeks, babies in a few months.

Do not forget that propagation of succulents is a game of patience. Be patient, do your homework, and enjoy!

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