How to Propagate Succulents - Beginner's Step-by-Step Guide to Propagating Succulents

October 06, 2021 5 min read 0 Comments

succulent propagation at home

Are you interested in propagating succulents? Exchanging cuttings with friends is a great way to create more plants at a low cost. It is a fun and easy activity to do with kids as well. You can make succulents from leaves, cuttings, or the tops of leggy succulents. No need for fancy equipment, this project requires only a few basic items. The biggest challenge of this project will be limiting how many plants you create!


Why are succulents so popular?

Succulents make excellent house plants, especially in households with limited sunlight. They also require less frequent watering, making them popular with busy schedules. Propagating new plants from existing succulents around your home is a quick and straightforward process. Because succulents grown from cuttings are so easy to propagate, growing a collection can be done on a dime. Rooting generally happens in 2-3 weeks, so it is also a fast way to create more plants for your space.

Understanding Succulent Basics

Succulents are plants that store up excess moisture in their leaves to survive during drought. For this reason, infrequent watering is a must. They require extremely good drainage to avoid too much saturation. You want the water to drain quickly and fully. They do best in soils that contain perlite, gravel, sand or pumice. 

tools for succulent propagation

What tools do you need to root cuttings from succulents?

1. A mother plant to take leaf cuttings from

2. Pruners or a knife (optional)

3. A warm space for cuttings and leaves to cure

4. Bonsai / cactus soil mix or succulent soil

5. A spray bottle

6. Humidity dome

7. Growing container for new plants (i.e. 5x5, 2.5" pot)

cutting and propagating succulents


The Easiest Method to Propagate Succulents

  1. Twist and break away leaves of the plant
  2. Let the leaves dry out and callus off. 
  3. Allow the roots to grow from leaves
  4. Plant into well-drained soil. (Cactus or bonsai soil work best)

Soil for Propagating Succulents 

When propagating succulents from leaves and cuttings, it is important to use a well drained soil. We actually suggest not using soil at all. Instead use a soilless mixture that contains ample amounts of peat or perlite to aid in extra drainage. Cactus soil mixes and bonsai mixes that comprise of pumice, gravel and sand also are a great alternative. 

3 Main Succulent Propagation Techniques

Succulents can be propagated from cuttings, succulent leaves, and from stems. Another way growers propagate succulents is from digging out rooted baby succulents or offsets from an existing plant. Any way you choose can work, but some varieties can be more challenging than others. Two of the easiest succulents to propagate from cuttings and leaves are Sedum and Echeveria varieties.

Removing leaves from Succulents

When removing leaves from your succulents, gently twist and pull them to avoid tearing and retain the integrity of the cutting. You want to avoid a messy tear as it will fail to root and form new growth. If using a pruner or shears for the project, make sure they are sterile. You can clean your equipment using alcohol to prepare it for use. This is especially important if cutting from someone else's plant. Trading succulent leaf cuttings between friends can be a frugal way to add to your collection.

removing leafs from succulents to propagate

Drying Out Succulent Leaves

After removing the leaves:

  1. Lay the succulent leaves out flat on a paper towel or directly on top of your growing container to dry. You will want to set it in a warm, bright place for around 4 days.
  2. Avoid direct sunlight on the leaf cutting during this step. This curing process will allow the leaves to callus and heal.
  3. Think of this healing the wound.

The main objective here is to add a layer of protection for your newly forming cutting. Without this step, the succulent cutting or succulent leaf can be susceptible to over-saturation as the wound will absorb more moisture if not healed. This is a vital step that must not be skipped!

Rooting and Planting Succulents from Leaves

The callused leaf cuttings will soon start to root and form new plants. The original leaf will shrivel up. Do not discard the leaf cutting until it is thoroughly dried out, as it is the primary source of nutrition for your baby succulent plant rooting.

Why Take Cuttings from Succulents

Taking cuttings from succulents is a simple way to create more plants. We recommend choosing leaves that are larger and healthier for succulent propagation. You will want to choose succulent cuttings in the same fashion. For example, with "string of pearls" variety we recommend picking a healthy strand for propagation that is free from disease and has no signs of dry out.

misting water in a 5x5 tray

Before laying out the cuttings on the soil for rooting, give the soil mix a light spritz. As the new roots grow, lightly mist them with water to prevent them from drying out, but not too much as that could cause issues. You can also use a humidity dome during this step to create a moist environment for successful rooting of the succulent. Once the rooting has happened, it is time to plant your new plant. 

Why are My Succulent Cuttings Dying?

One of the biggest challenges for growers tending to succulents is overwatering. If you are noticing that your cutting is mushy and decaying, you may have over watered your succulent cutting. The trick to remember is that you only want to lightly spray the rooting cutting. There should be no direct watering or submersion. Another possible cause could be dry out. If you live in an especially arid area, you might want to cover your rooting succulent cutting with a humidity dome to retain moisture.

rooting succulents

You will want to grow this shallow succulent in well-drained soil such as cactus or bonsai soil. From there, wait for 24 hrs and lightly water.

planting succulents

Water Propagation vs Soil Propagation, Which Works Better?

Succulent leaves and cuttings can be propagated both ways. If using the water method, you will want to place the leaf or cutting on top of a bottle or container filled with water. Some use plastic wrap with leaves stuck into the plastic, allowing exposure to the water without submersion. This method is meant to encourage new roots to reach for the water. While this method works, the root system is not always as strong as a cutting rooted in the dirt. This is personal preference as they both will result in new plants.

propagating succulents
Caring for Your New Baby Succulent Plant

Your new plant will need infrequent watering, indirect sunlight and good drainage. One of the most common mistakes made with succulents is overwatering. Limit watering to only once or twice a week for best results. Now that you have learned a new skill, share it with others! 

Photography Credit: @little_white_greenhouse

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