How to Propagate Succulents from Leaves and Cuttings

A step-by-step tutorial on propagating succulents from leaves! See how to grow more succulents from the ones you already own!

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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. 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!
Aeonium ‘Kiwi’, Echeveria ‘Perle von Nurnburg’, Sedum rubrotinctum, Graptosedum ‘Alpenglow’

How to take a cutting

The genus and species of succulent will determine what kind of cutting you can do. For example, most tender Sedums and some Echeverias can be propagated with either via a leaf or a cutting. I’ve been using leaves 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. Each variety of succulent is different so just experiment and see what happens! Find out the 7 succulents I love that are super easy to propagate.

So, to propagate from a leaf, gently twist 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 cuttings 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!

Example of bad succulent leaf propagation removal

Example of good succulent leaf propagation removal

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 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.

Learn everything you need to know about propagating succulents from leaves and cuttings

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 most leaves I planted this 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 are almost a full grown succulent already, they just need to grow roots so into the ground they go!

For both the leaves and cuttings 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.

Propagate succulents with leaves!
Echeveria minima, Graptosedum ‘Alpenglow’, Echeveria ‘Perle von Nurnberg’, Graptoveria ‘Debbie’

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.

Here is a little photo timeline of the first cuttings I did:

Out to Dry

Group of succulent leaves ready to propagate
Aeonium ‘Kiwi’, Echeveria ‘Perle von Nurnburg’, Sedum rubrotinctum, Graptosedum ‘Alpenglow’

4 Weeks

New growth from succulent leaf propagation

6-7 Weeks

Learn about propagating succulents from leaves

Healthy succulent roots on leaf propagation

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!

Keep the roots covered as the plants begin to grow. If you don’t cover them with soil, eventually they begin to dry out and it’s hard to help them keep growing.

It will take most succulents several months to a year to grow to a very large or “normal” size. This isn’t a super speedy process, but it does work! Give it a try and soon you’ll be addicted :)

 

Learn everything you need to know about propagating succulents from leaves and cuttings

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You'll find an incredible selection of cold hardy succulents at Mountain Crest Gardens