Learn how to propagate succulents (grow more) from the ones you already own with this step-by-step tutorial on propagating succulents from leaves!
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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! In the end, though, I figured out some tricks that made it easier–and I’m going to pass them on to you right now.
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 I can tell you they’ve worked for me. For even more detailed propagating information, check out my ebook, The Secrets to Propagating Succulents.
How to remove a leaf for propagating
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, 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.
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. This is how mine look when they’re laid out to grow.
Once you’ve got your watering pattern down, your cuttings will start to put off new roots and leaves within a few weeks. I started my first batch of cuttings indoors at the end of March (the 22nd to be exact), and I noticed new leaves starting to grow on April 19th, about 4 weeks later.
Here’s a little photo timeline of the first time I tried to propagate succulents from leaves and cuttings:
Out to Dry
If some of your cuttings 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 at least a few months to grow back 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!
Thanks for reading this article!
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Visit the Succulent Q&A archive to see what questions other succulent enthusiasts have asked (and get the answers)
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Grab a copy of my ebooks for some in-depth succulent reading