One of the incredible things about succulents, in addition to their beauty and ease of care, is how readily new plants can be started through propagation. While some varieties of succulents can be propagated from divisions and offsets as the plants mature and grow, the quickest ways to propagate almost any succulent is from leaf or stem cuttings. With only a few simple steps, you will be well on your way to expanding your succulent collection!
Propagating from Leaf Cuttings
Best suited for succulent varieties with larger, fleshy leaves that contain enough water and nutrients to support the growth of a new plant.
- Start by either gathering a healthy leaf that has fallen from the stem (being sure to use only leaves that were dislodged accidentally, rather than falling off due to age or disease), or by gently removing a leaf using a twisting motion. The goal is to leave the nodes at the base of the leaf intact, to sprout new roots, so take care not to rip the leaf away from the stem too forcefully!
- Place the leaf in a dry, indirectly bright spot for a few days, to allow the end to callous over. You know this has occurred when the “wound” at the end of the leaf feels smooth and dry.
- Place the calloused leaf atop moist, porous soil, and place the pot or dish in filtered light. Gently mist or sprinkle the soil surface regularly, before it has the chance to completely dry out.
- Watch and wait as the baby succulent begins to grow its own roots and rosette, and the ‘parent’ leaf begins to wither – do not be worried if this process takes several weeks or even a few months! At this point, the original leaf can be gently removed, and the new plant potted in its own home to grow on.
Bonus Tip: Potting up leaf cuttings can still allow for a beautiful arrangement, long before the new rosettes form – the ‘parent’ leaves can be placed on the soil surface in intricate mandala patterns, peace signs, and more to create an eye-catching display.
Propagating from Stem Cuttings
Best suited for branching succulent varieties, or rosette-shaped succulents that have developed long stems.
- The perfect solution to salvage a rosette-shaped succulent that has etiolated, a stem cutting can be clipped with sharp, clean snips or a razor blade, just below the last layer of healthy leaves, keeping a short stem in place to allow for easy repotting. For branching succulents, the clip can be made as close to the base of the selected stem as possible. Gently strip any surplus leaves towards the base of the cutting – and perhaps allow those to root up as well, depending on the variety!
- Place the cutting in a dry, indirectly lit spot for a few days, to allow a callous to form over the “wound.”
- Create a small hole using a finger or chopstick, and plant the calloused stem end of the cutting into moist, porous soil. Gently pat the cutting in, and lightly moisten the soil as it begins dry, allowing the new plant to take root.
- As you begin to see your cutting put on new growth, you can resume caring for it as you would a more mature succulent, including a return to more infrequent watering.
Bonus Tip: If you use the stem cutting method to save an Echeveria or other rosette-shaped succulent that has become leggy, the long stem that is left behind can also be treated as a second cutting – if left in its pot and watered sparingly until new growth appears, this parent plant has the potential to develop new rosettes from each remaining leaf node!