How To Propagate Succulents From Leaves And Cuttings

Propagation is a fun part of plant care, and that doubly goes for succulent plants, as it is very easy!

If you can give a succulent plant the right care, including light, water, soil, and temperature, once you know how to propagate it, you will never buy another plant of the same species, when you can grow more for free.

Many are under the impression that succulents are hard to grow, but they aren’t. All you need to do is to give them lots of direct light, and very infrequent watering that’s essentially a downpour, and keep them in the right soil.

Once you’ve got that down, you’ll be able to propagate your healthy succulents very easily into new plants.

Sounds good? Here’s what you need to know.

Why You Should Propagate Your Succulents

It’s always a good idea to try growing your succulents from cuttings, whether that is through leaf cuttings or stem cuttings. 

Not only does this give you more plants (and who doesn’t want more succulents in their collection?), but these new plants also serve as insurance in case something happens to your original, beautiful succulent.

Whether that’s an Act of God, pests, disease, overwatering, etc., it’s nice to know that you still have at least one succulent of the same type if your specimen succulent suddenly dies.

It also means you can trade any spare succulent plants with others to get other plants that are burning on your wishlist, too.

With many succulent plants, you don’t even have to try very hard to propagate them. If you accidentally knock a leaf or a stem from your plant, leave it in the soil and chances are it will root by itself!

When Should You Propagate Your Succulents?

Always propagate your succulent plants during their growing season. For the majority of species, this will be during spring and summer.

For best results, wait until the height of summer when temperatures and light levels are at their strongest, which will help your cuttings to root. 

Where possible, try to avoid propagating your succulents during fall or winter when the plants go dormant, as there’s a significant chance they won’t root, or quite a few of them will die.

Other elements affect how fast, how well, or if at all, your succulent cuttings will root. 

Temperature and light, along with the potting media and the amount of water you give your succulents can make a huge difference, as well as the climate you happen to live in, too.

It may even be an uphill battle at first, but once you’ve got the process down, and you know what these plants need to root, you’ll be propagating lots of new succulent plants in no time at all!

How Long Does It Take For New Succulents To Grow From Propagation?

Exactly how long it will take for new plants to grow from your succulents depends on a lot of factors. 

The species you choose, the age of the plant material, the growing conditions, your climate, and the season all play a role in how fast or slow your cuttings will grow into new plants.

It may take anywhere from a few weeks to a month or even longer but don’t give up. As long as the cuttings aren’t rotting, there is still the chance that they will root.

A good way to help prevent your cuttings from rotting is to plant them in the smallest pots you can get away with, as the water will drain from the soil faster.

Another good trick to try is to simply dump all the leaves into a single pot or tray, and leave them under a grow light or outdoors to fend for themselves. Frustratingly, this can often work better than babying them!

How To Make New Succulents From Leaves

Many succulent species can be propagated just through their leaves, which is great when you might wince at the idea of taking a whole chunk out of your beautiful plant!

But there is a drawback to this method: it can be unreliable. Not all of your leaf cuttings will take, even if you provide them with the right conditions, and it will take longer to get established plants.

Choose Your Leaves

Make sure you choose the right leaves for propagation. Choose healthy ones, but not ones that are very old, very young, wrinkled, damaged, or discolored.

It’s not an exact science, though. You can propagate those leaves that you accidentally knock from the plant, too.

Remove ALL Of The Leaves You Want To Take

Make sure that when you do take the leaves from the mother plant, you don’t ‘leave’ any portion of them behind on the stem. 

This is important, as having all parts of the leaf will help generate roots and a new plant, whereas only half a leaf will generate nothing but a waste of time and some disappointment.

Think of the leaves as mini stores for potential new plants to use. As your new plants grow from the leaves, the original leaves will rot as the new plants extract moisture and nutrients from them, and a partial leaf is no good.

Lay Your Leaves On A Propagation Tray

You don’t need to air-dry succulent leaves like you do with cuttings. It’s better if you don’t, as the potential new plants will make use of that moisture left in the leaves to grow.

Instead, put them straight onto the surface of well-draining, succulent compost in a tray. Don’t be tempted to plant them or bury them.

Lay them horizontally, pressing them down slightly, so they have good contact with the soil.

Wet The Soil

Now it’s time to wet the soil. Instead of watering the soil, you can mist the soil if you prefer, but make sure you don’t get any water sitting on your leaf cuttings, as they will rot. 

Now you’ll need to keep an eye on the cuttings. Put them somewhere warm and bright, away from high humidity and direct sunlight. Under a grow light would be better if you have one.

When the surface feels dry, water it or mist it just enough to rehydrate it, but not to get it soaked. Again, avoid getting water on your cuttings.

Now it’s time for the hard part. You will have to wait to see new growth, and sometimes it can be months before anything happens. 

But as long as your cuttings are still healthy, there is no reason why they won’t root if you give them enough time.

Once your leaves are showing new growth, and the original leaves are starting to shrivel, this is a very good sign. 

Let the plantlets take up all the nutrients and goodness they can from the original leaves, and those leaves will eventually rot on their own.

How To Propagate Your Succulents From Cuttings

While propagating your succulents from cuttings does take more plant material, it can give your new plants a better start, as there is more energy within the cuttings to work with, and you’ll end up with bigger plants faster.

But it does mean taking a bigger chunk out of your original plant, which you might not be happy about!

It’s a good idea to experiment with both methods to see which one works best for you and the unique growing conditions you can provide your plants with.

Take Your Cutting

When taking your cuttings, use sharp and sterilized scissors to make clean cuts. This helps cut down on the risk of disease taking hold of your plants, so it’s always worth cleaning your scissors with hot, soapy water before you start.

Choose healthy plant material to take your cuttings from, whether you’re taking them from a healthy plant, a plant that’s gotten leggy (where it’s not gotten enough light), or a plant that’s on its last legs.

Take more cuttings than you plan on growing, as not all of them will make it unless you are lucky!

You can even separate any offsets, or plantlets from the base of your succulents, and propagate them in the same way.

Let It Air Dry

Once you’ve got your cuttings, don’t be tempted to plant them up straight away like you would with leafy tropical plants.

Instead, set them aside to air dry for a few days. This will help the wounds mostly close up so that when you put them into damp soil, they won’t take up too much water and rot before they can do anything else.

If you have any rooting hormone, you can use this once the cuttings have dried before planting into the soil. It’s not required, though.

Plant Up Your Cutting

The next step is to plant your cuttings into compost. 

If you can, use very small pots for this, which will mean the soil will dry out faster, helping to prevent root rot especially when your cuttings will be quite small.

Make sure you use a dedicated succulent compost, as generic, all-purpose compost doesn’t have sharp enough drainage.

Move your cuttings to a bright and warm spot, away from high humidity, drafts, heat sources, and prolonged direct sunlight or too much darkness.

While you could create a greenhouse environment for your cuttings, this helps out tropical plant cuttings rather than succulents, as high humidity levels will rot your succulents.

Water Succulent Cuttings When The Soil Is Dry

Allow the soil to fully dry out before watering your cuttings again, but only once the soil has dried out. 

Don’t wait any longer than this, as your cuttings won’t be able to root if they are given long dry periods.

Remember That Not All Your Props Will Be A Success

No matter what kind of plant species you’re propagating, whether that is a succulent species or a tropical leafy plant, it’s important to remember that you won’t be successful all of the time.

It’s the same with growing plants from seed. Not all of your seeds will germinate or seedlings will make it to maturity, and this is nature doing her thing.

Think of raising plants (especially from propagation) as a fascinating experiment. Not everything that you will try will work, and sometimes you will need to tweak things to improve the chances of success, but nothing is foolproof.

Propagating your succulents also takes a lot of patience, which is why it’s a good idea to propagate several types of plants at the same time. 

You’ll get near-instant gratification with the likes of Tradescantia and some Pothos plants, and when your succulents root, that will be a bonus!

How To Get New Succulent Cuttings For Propagation

One of the most satisfying and cost-effective ways of getting your hands on new plants is to raise them from cuttings. 

Of course, you have to get them from somewhere, so here are a few things to remember.

Ask Your Local Store Or Nursery For Leaves That Have Fallen

Don’t be afraid to ask your local plant store, DIY store, or nursery for leaves that have fallen from the plants they have for sale, as these will likely go to waste unless the store regularly propagates them.

One thing you must not do is take cuttings from plants in the store without asking. It is stealing, and it’s one of the most insulting things you can do to people who nurture plants. 

Ask Your Green-Fingered Friends

If you happen to have some friends that grow succulents, it’s a good idea to ask them if you can have a leaf or a cutting. They will usually say yes!

Join Cutting-Swapping Groups

Another thing you can do is to join groups that swap cuttings through the mail or in person. This is by far one of the best ways you can get your hands on new plants.

Not only are you getting your cuttings for free, but they usually come with valuable advice from the person who has grown the established plant and knows what works.

Final Thoughts

Succulents are fun plants to propagate, but it can take a lot of patience and some fine-tuning to get the process right. 

View it as an experiment and don’t be afraid to try new techniques, and you’ll soon find new plants thriving under your care!

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