How to Propagate Succulents from Leaves and Cuttings

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.

You'll love this step by step tutorial for propagating succulents from leaves and cuttings!

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.

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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.

Example of bad succulent leaf propagation removal

Example of good succulent leaf propagation removal

How to take a cutting for propagating

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!

Cut off the tops of stretched out succulents to refresh your arrangement

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

4 Weeks

New growth from succulent leaf propagation

6-7 Weeks

Learn about propagating succulents from leaves

Healthy succulent roots on leaf propagation

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!

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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!


2017-10-06T10:10:06+00:00

24 Comments

  1. Myriam Castonguay September 30, 2017 at 10:41 am - Reply

    Hello there,

    I do have a big problem, my Crassula felt on the ground because of the windy weather we had and it broke into pieces. I still have a strong portion in place but I would really love to save the rest of the plant.

    Can you guys tell me what to do with the branches, how to propagate them, if I need to cut them or not… To make sure you got the right idea of the situation, I joined pictures of the massacre in order for you to help me out. I would appreciated if you could provide me with a solution, because my heart is broken as well !

    • Chantile -- Succulents and Sunshine Success Team October 2, 2017 at 10:26 am - Reply

      Hi Myriam, can you please send pictures to: [email protected] ? I’d love to take a look at them and help!

  2. Clare October 2, 2017 at 12:15 am - Reply

    Hello, thank you for this very informative article. I have been trying to propagate my succulents for months but with no luck. All of them died, I have followed all of the tips you have mentioned but i wonder if it has something to do with sunlight? i keep my leaves indoors and they do not get as much sunlight as my full grown succulents which are doing great. Can you help me out?

    Thank you and great content by the way :)

    • Chantile -- Succulents and Sunshine Success Team October 2, 2017 at 9:56 am - Reply

      Yes, sunlight is just as vital for your propagation as water is. If you’re unable to keep them next to a well-lit window, I would suggest a grow light. Let me know if this helps!

  3. Brandy October 2, 2017 at 12:09 pm - Reply

    My windows have tint on them blocking all UVA and UVB rays in so hose plants don’t grow for me. I am a newbie but growing my collection. I have many succulents on my patio in varied levels of light, some full morning, some full afternoon, some no direct, and some filtered sun. I move them around until I fine where they thrive and then leave them there. Where would be best to put my propagation area? I have some leaves laying in a pot with soil and they are taking forever to grow, some nearly 4 months. I spray them every couple days with a spray bottle and they are on my patio close to the wall so getting no direct light as of now.

    • Chantile -- Succulents and Sunshine Success Team October 3, 2017 at 10:56 am - Reply

      The leaves you are propagating need light, just as your full-grown plants do. It can takes months, sometimes, to put off new pups. If you aren’t able to put them in an area with good sun, I would suggest trying a grow light.

  4. Angie October 2, 2017 at 6:32 pm - Reply

    I just purchased 12 different plants that I want to start propagating. I am super nervous but I really appreciate your blog! Here’s hoping for success!

    • Chantile -- Succulents and Sunshine Success Team October 3, 2017 at 10:44 am - Reply

      You’ll do great! Let us know if you have any questions, we’re here to help!

  5. Genie October 4, 2017 at 10:58 pm - Reply

    First time propagater here; I purchased the Bonsai Jack succulent soil mix and I’m worried that my cuttings won’t root in this mix and dry out because the mix is quite chunky. Any advice?

    • Chantile -- Succulents and Sunshine Success Team October 5, 2017 at 8:58 am - Reply

      Cassidy usually uses Bonsai Jack soil for propagating but does water quite frequently. She also makes sure to cover the roots once they start showing up so they don’t dry out as quickly. If you want to try propagating in something different, I suggest coconut coir (which is what all succulents from Mountain Crest Gardens are grown in).

  6. Laura October 6, 2017 at 2:34 pm - Reply

    Hello there
    I have recently propagated different succulents and now have babies growing. I see little red roots and need to know how to plant them before frost . Do I take them off the leaves that aren’t completely shriveled yet or plant them with the leaves intact.

    • Chantile -- Succulents and Sunshine Success Team October 6, 2017 at 3:48 pm - Reply

      Don’t remove the mother leaves yet – the new babies are still pulling nutrients from the leaf. You’ll want to want until they’re shriveled up first. If the roots are established, you can go ahead and plant them.

  7. Anissa October 11, 2017 at 9:14 pm - Reply

    Hi… I’m new to propagating succulents… and my first batch of leaves have just sprouted some pink roots… no leaves yet tho… I noticed some fuzzy grey spots on my leaves which looks a lot like mold.. should i try to remove them with cotton swabs or just leave it be… I really don’t want to chuck these leaves and start over if possible… any help would be greatly appreciated… thanks

    • Chantile -- Succulents and Sunshine Success Team October 13, 2017 at 5:55 pm - Reply

      Try adding a little isopropyl alcohol to the cotton swab when you rub it off. The alcohol will evaporate without harming the leaf, and should remove whatever is growing. How wet is your soil? Is it drying out properly between waterings? If you suspect it is mold growing, I would suggest changing your soil.

      • Anissa October 15, 2017 at 7:54 pm - Reply

        Hi… thanks… I will definitely use some alcohol with cotton swab…
        my previous attempt at propagation have always been a failure… and I deduce it might have been because i mist my leaves too much that rot sets in… in this batch… I put a layer of perlite on top of the soil so that my leaves are always dry. Then I use a method similar to a watering globe so that my soil is wet but my leaves stay dry. I was also hoping this will make the roots go down instead of all over the place. But I’m guessing I’ve over watered the soil which is why the mold happened. Other than mold problem, this method seems to be working well as all the leaves in this batch have sprout some roots :)

        • Chantile -- Succulents and Sunshine Success Team October 16, 2017 at 2:03 pm - Reply

          That’s good news! It’s great you’ve found a method that works! Let me know when you get those happy little pups planted! :)

  8. Cam🌵 October 16, 2017 at 9:37 pm - Reply

    A leaf fell off of my echervia and I stuck it back into its rightful place so that my plant wouldn’t look messed up. Today, I discovered that it was propagating. Now that I have discovered it I feel like I am going to kill it by giving it too much water/not enough water or too much sunlight/not enough sunlight. I really want this leaf to survive! Should I leave the leaf under a lamp or should I leave it outside? Should I give the leaf cactus juice (a calcium drink I give my succulents)? If it is dying can I save it? Should I stick it back in the plant? Do I mist the whole leaf or just the root/end part? I will appreciate any help I can get.

    • Chantile -- Succulents and Sunshine Success Team October 17, 2017 at 8:37 am - Reply

      Light and water are just as important to the propagating leaf, as they are to a full-grown plant. Let the leaf callous over by letting it dry for a day or two, and then lay the leaf on some well-draining soil, and mist it when the soil is dry. Be sure to place it in an area of your home or garden (if it’s warm enough outside) where it will receive plenty of sun.

      • Cam October 17, 2017 at 3:58 pm - Reply

        Okay, thank you. Would it be okay if I put it under an ordinary house lamp?

        • Chantile -- Succulents and Sunshine Success Team October 18, 2017 at 8:55 am - Reply

          A reflector lamp using a CFL could offer that extra bit of light that succulents need indoors. I’d suggest following the guidelines in this post for choosing the best one for you.

  9. Bengisu October 17, 2017 at 2:23 pm - Reply

    Hello, firstly thanks a lot for this article, I am new to propagating and this helped a great deal. I just wanted to ask: do you think the plant that you take your cutting from will live on? My succulents are quite stretched hence I want to propagate them again, but since I am new to this I am afraid some won’t work – and in that case knowing that my base succulent can still live on – even if the newly propagated doesn’t work – would be a great relief!

    • Chantile -- Succulents and Sunshine Success Team October 18, 2017 at 8:40 am - Reply

      Yes, the plant you are cutting from should be fine. Beheading it lets it start over, and propagating the stretched pieces brings new plants! This post can give you more information on that.

  10. Yolanda Garza October 17, 2017 at 9:57 pm - Reply

    When propagating from leaves do I cover the tray where I put the leaves? Love all the Q&A.

    • Chantile -- Succulents and Sunshine Success Team October 18, 2017 at 8:21 am - Reply

      Leave the tray uncovered so that it can get airflow :)

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