When I first started researching succulents, I kept reading how easy they were to take care of, and to propagate.
Well, although it’s true that succulents are much easier to propagate than a lot of other plants, it’s been a bit of a challenge for me to propagate them in my dry Utah climate!
However, I’ve figured out some tricks that made it easier–and I’m going to pass them on to you right now.
To help you even further, start by downloading my free cheat sheet to see what problems you might face while propagating succulents from leaves and how to fix them. Click here to grab that that, it’ll be super helpful.
In this post, I’ll show you the techniques I use to propagate succulents from leaves. Not all of these tips will apply to every climate — but they’ve worked for me.
How to remove a leaf for propagation
Your succulent’s genus and species will determine what kind of cutting you can take. For example, most tender Sedums and some Echeverias can be propagated with either a leaf or a cutting.–though I use leaves for both.
Aeoniums, on the other hand, only work with cuttings, which means you can’t propagate them with just a leaf. In other words, every variety of succulent is different–so if you’re not sure what will work, experiment (like I did) and see what happens! For a start, click here to take a look at these seven succulents that I’ve found super easy to propagate.
To take a leaf for propagation, just gently twist the leaf off the stem. Make sure it’s a clean pull, leaving nothing on the stem. In fact, it’s fine to pull of a little of the stem, too.
Every time I’ve broken off a leaf just before the stem, it’s always died–so make sure you get all the way down to the stem. It helps to get a clear view of the base of the leaf as you’re pulling it off.
If you aren’t keen on removing a leaf from your own plant, no worries! You can actually buy leaves to use for propagation from The Succulents Source. Click here to buy some and start propagating!
It’s a really inexpensive way to start collection new plants, plus it’s sooooo fun to propagate succulents and see those little babies growing from just a leaf!
How to take a cutting for propagation
To take a cutting, on the other hand, you’ll want sharp scissors or pruning shears (I use these and absolutely love them!). Cut off a piece of the succulent just above a leaf on the stem.
You can cut off the top of the succulent, or you can cut off a new offshoot. Either will work!
Let your leaf or cutting dry out
Once you’ve taken your cutting or leaf, it’s important to let it dry out a little bit before you do anything else. Depending on the amount of heat and sunlight, you’ll want to leave the leaf or cutting alone for one to three days, so it can scab over.
If the leaf or cutting doesn’t get a chance to scab over, it’ll absorb too much water the first time you water it, and drown. It’s totally fine if the cutting starts to shrivel up a little. Once that starts to happen, it’s time to start watering.
Watering your leaf or cutting
While full-grown succulents don’t need to be watered every day, leaves and cuttings do. That said, you’ll want to avoid giving them too much water, which will cause them to turn orangey-brown and die.
Here’s what I’ve found works best…
If you’re working with leaves, set them on top of the soil, making sure their ends don’t actually touch the soil at all, and water them each time the soil dries out. I use a spray bottle to get the top of the soil wet.
Some experts recommend putting the cut end of the leaf in the soil–but most of the leaves I tried to plant this way either rotted, or just grew roots but never started a new plant.
Unlike leaves, cuttings do need to be put in the soil. Since they’re almost a full-grown succulent already, all they need is to be planted and watered, and they’ll start to grow roots!
Like leaves, cuttings should be watered each time you notice the soil is dry. Once you’ve got your watering pattern down, your cuttings will start to put off new roots and leaves within a few weeks.
Wait for Results
It takes some time for new rosettes and roots to form on succulent leaves and cuttings. The amount of time it takes will vary depending on the time of year, temperature of the area you’re propagating in, type of succulent you are propagating, how humid the air is, etc.
That said, you can generally expect to see some results within 2-3 weeks.
You can see a continuously updated set of leaf propagation photos here.
Succulent Propagation Success Rate
If some of your cuttings or leaves die, don’t worry–more than half of my first batch didn’t make it. Some won’t grow as much as their siblings, while others will put off a bunch of roots, but no leaves. Every cutting is different, and it’s totally normal to lose some!
As your new plants start to grow, make sure to keep the roots covered with soil, or they’ll dry out and your plants will probably stop growing.
Most succulents take several months to grow to “normal” size–while some may take as long as a year. In other words, this isn’t a super-speedy process–but it does work!
Give it a try, and soon you’ll be addicted to propagating your plants!
And if you haven’t already, be sure to grab my free cheat sheet to see what problems you might face while propagating succulents from leaves and how to fix them. Click here to grab the cheat sheet.