When I was researching succulents I kept reading how easy they were to take care of and how easy they were to propagate. While I’m sure they are much easier to propagate than a number of plants, doing so in the Utah climate has proved to be a bit of a challenge for me. It it totally doable though! In this post I’ll show you how I’ve learned to propagate succulents from leaves. These tips may not apply to every climate but this is what has worked for me and should be similar for other climates.
1. How to take a cutting
The species of succulent will determine what kind of cutting you can do. For example, the echeverias can be propagated with either via a leaf or a cutting. I’ve been using leafs for these so I’ll tell you how I’ve done that. Aeoniums only work with cuttings, so far as I know you can’t propagate with just a leaf.
So, for a leaf you simply pull the leaf off of the stem. I’ve found that it has to be a clean pull, meaning nothing gets left on the stem. If you get some of the stem that is fine too. I had a few that ripped off just before the stem and all of those died. So, try to get all the way to the stem. It helps if you can see the end of the leaf as you are pulling it off.
For the cuttings you’ll want sharp scissors or pruning shears. Depending on the type of succulent you can actually pull of a stem too. Basically though you just cut off a section of the plant that is healthy. For the green Aeonium I have, someone told me anywhere a new floret is growing is a great place to take a cutting.
2. Once you have leaf or cutting
Once you have your cutting or leaf you’ll want to let it dry out a little bit before you do anything else. Depending on the amount of heat and sunlight you give the cuttings this could be 1-3 days. If you don’t let the end of the cutting scab over (that is my super technical term for the end healing… I just think of it like that) it will absorb too much water and will die when you water it. If the cutting starts to shrivel up a little that is ok, but you want to start watering it before that happens to much.
3. Watering the cutting
While full grown succulents don’t need to be constantly watered, the cuttings do. That said, too much water will cause them to turn orangey-brown and die.
So, what I have found works best for the leaves is to set them on top of the soil (the end really won’t even be touching the soil at all) and water them when the soil is dry. I use a spray bottle to get the top of the soil wet. Some places recommend you put the cut end in the soil but the ones I did that way either rotted or just grew roots and never started a new plant.
On the other hand, the actual cuttings do need to go in the ground. Since they already look like a plant they just need to grow roots so into the ground they go! Same with the leaves though, you’ll want to water them when you see the soil is dry.
(this is how mine look when they are laid out to grow)
Once you have the watering pattern down roots and new leaves will start to grow in several weeks. I started my first batch indoors at the end of March (the 22nd to be exact). I noticed new leaves starting to grow on April 19th, so about 4 weeks. I’m starting to propagate a new batch of leaves and I’m curious to see if they will grow any faster in the warm weather. I’ll keep you updated!
Here is a little photo timeline of the first cuttings I did:
Out to dry
6 or 7 weeks
Just so you know, more than half of the first batch didn’t make it. There are also some that haven’t grown as much and some that just have a bunch of roots, no leaves. So they aren’t all the same and you will lose some!
At this point I’m not sure what to do with the succulent starts as they get bigger. While mine have grown quite a bit they still aren’t big enough that I feel like they should be watered like the big plants. They don’t really have much to put in the ground yet either. So, as I figure all that out I’ll let you know.
I recently published an eBook all about propagating succulents! It covers in depth how to propagate from leaves and from cuttings. Click here for more information or click below to purchase the book.