Beheading succulents is a really scary thing for a lot of people, but I’m excited that you’re ready to take that on! As you mentioned, you can cut off the main rosette, but you’ll still have the stem or stalk left. You can actually cut off as much of that stalk as you want.
Sometimes when succulents start to get stretched out, you’ll need to trim things down quite a bit to get them back to a manageable and attractive size.
Let’s say your stem is really long, maybe a foot tall with the rosette still on the end. Cut off the top and allow that cutting about 3 inches so you have plenty of room to plant the cutting in soil once it has dried out.
Even if you cut off about 3 inches (7.5 cm), you’re still left with another 9” (23 cm) on the mother plant. Don’t worry, this won’t all go to waste. In fact, you may find that it’s the most rewarding part of pruning or beheading succulents!
You can cut off another 6-7” (15 – 18 cm) of the stem. If the stem has leaves still attached, remove one or two, but keep the rest on. Let the stem dry, just like you did with the rosette cutting, and then place it in soil. In most cases, this stem will root and start to put off new rosettes where you removed the leaves.
If there aren’t leaves still on this section of stem, it’s kind of a gamble. However, I have had bare pieces of Fred Ives stem that rooted and put off rosettes. Like I mentioned in the intro… Fred is a survivor!
The base of your succulent, now about 3” (7.5 cm) tall, will also put off new rosettes. Again, it’s better if it still has some original leaves attached to it, but since it has that deep root system already, it will be just fine without the original leaves, too.
Keep in mind that every succulent variety is going to be a little different.
In my experience, bare Aeonium stems have a really hard time surviving and putting off new growth. The original rosette cutting and the base plant will be just fine.
Echeverias are a gamble too. Some of the more common varieties seem to do really well with various cuttings, but the more rare varieties are less likely to put off lots of new growth.
In general though, beheading a succulent will cause the base plant to put off new babies for you to enjoy. The top you cut off should be able to root and form an established root system of its own, too.
I know this can be a scary or stressful part of succulent growing for many people, but I love it! Especially after a winter with too little light, I love pruning my succulents and getting everything nice and compact again. Don’t be afraid to use some sharp, sterile scissors and give your succulents a little trim!