Succulents add a pop of color and dimension
Growing or propagation is the act of taking an element of a mature succulent and using that element to grow a new plant. It can be done by using the offsets, leaf cuttings, stem cuttings, or seeds from a mature plant. Propagating succulents is typically a very simple process, however, some plants are more difficult to propagate than others.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to grow succulents from cuttings.
Table of Contents
How to Remove a Leaf for Succulents 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. 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
How to Take a Cutting for Succulents Propagation
To take a cutting, on the other hand, you’ll want sharp scissors or pruning shears. Cut off a piece of the succulent just above a leaf on the stem. Succulent cuttings should be taken from the very top of the stem, just above a leaf on the stem. Cut below the first leaf node on the stem at least, or longer. Make sure you have at least 1-2 inches or so of stem. Less than that and the plant will have a hard time standing up straight in the soil, hindering root growth.
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. This is the most important part: letting the cut ends of the succulent stems callous over! A callous is essentially the succulent version of a scab.
If the leaf or cutting doesn’t get a chance to scab over, it’ll absorb too much water the first time you water
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.
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 get the top of the soil wet using a spray bottle.
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.
Cuttings, unlike leaves, do need to be put in the soil.
All they need is to be planted and watered since they’re almost a full-grown succulent already, 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.
To check your cuttings for roots, gently push them with your fingers. Cuttings that have not established roots will move around quite freely, but those with roots feel more anchored.
Propagating Succulents with Leaf Cuttings
Propagating with leaf cuttings is the process of removing an active, healthy leaf from a mature succulent plant and using it to grow a new plant. This propagation method works well with succulents that have plump, fleshy leaves like Echeveria because the leaves are easy to pop off cleanly.
Carefully snap off a leaf from where it is attached to the main stem. The leaf should snap off cleanly and whole. Alternatively, you can cleanly snip a portion of the stem. Once removed, let the leaf heal in a warm area with bright light for about four days to allow the “wound” to callous over. After the leaf has calloused, prepare a new planter with soil, wet it, and place the leaf on top of the soil for propagation.
Place the cutting or leaf in water with the root submerged in 1cm of water, shielded from the weather but with a fresh airflow. If you are using leaves create a lattice with rubber bands to help them stand vertically. You can also use a spray bottle to mist your leaves when the soil is dry. Be sure to keep them in a warm place with plenty of bright light, but not direct sun. They need to be kept moist and warm.
Wait until roots and baby succulents start to form. The roots will look like tiny, pink strands. Within three weeks or so, little roots and leaves will begin to sprout! It could take a few months before a succulent gets big enough for repotting. You’ll know it’s time when the leaf eventually turns brown and falls off. This means the succulent has taken all of the nutrients from the leaf and no longer needs it.
Once roots grow to 1-2cm remove from water and plant in a pot with drainage holes and filled with succulent potting mix. Water as required.
Growing Succulents with Stem Cuttings
Propagating with stem cuttings works best with plants that have “branches” or rosette-shaped succulents that have stretched out on a long stem. This process is most successful if done when the succulent is about to begin its active growth period, either at the end of a dormant period (usually winter months) or at the beginning of a growth period (usually spring months) to give the succulent the best chance for survival.
To take a proper cutting from a succulent that has branches
You’ll need a sharp, sterilized knife or razor blade. Choose a stem that is relatively short to ensure it is active and growing. Hold the stem as close to the base as possible, then use your knife or razor blade to cut it cleanly from the parent plant. If the stem is damaged at all during this process, you’ll likely need a new cutting. The branch will need to heal for about four days before it is repotted. Once repotted, give the plant plenty of bright light and barely water, and it will root itself in its new planter in about four weeks.
Rosette-shaped succulents can also be propagated with stem cuttings when they begin to grow a long stem from maturity or lack of sunlight. The rosette can be cut off with a sharp, sterile knife, leaving a short stem to enable
Basic Care for Succulent Cuttings
- Water them only after the soil has completely dried.
- Always water until the water runs out the bottom of the pot.
- Place the succulent cuttings on a windowsill or outside – wherever receives the right amount of light for them! If they don’t get enough light, their colors will not fully develop and they will become tall and thin.