This post talks all about propagating succulents from leaves and cuttings. Propagating succulents is very easy and rewarding. Once you buy one healthy plant, you never have to buy another of that variety again if you have a bit of patience! Learn how.
Propagating Succulents From Leaves and Cuttings
One of the first plant posts I wrote was a guide to taking care of succulents indoors. They are pretty simple to take care of—the major culprits to succulents puttering and dying indoors are a lack of light and too much water. Today I am finally, years later, getting around to writing a post about propagating succulents from cuttings. And it’s going to be a doozy!
I love propagating succulents, and at any given time, I am propagating a few of them. Either by choice or by accident. That’s because propagating succulents from cuttings can be as easy as knocking a leaf off of a plant and just letting it chill in the soil for a few months. But if you really want to baby your succulent cuttings, there are a few steps you can follow.
When is the best time to propagate succulents?
When it’s hot and humid! So, in most places, the summer months. But any time of the year will do, you just might have a lower success rate.
Keep in mind that there are many things that can impact your success propagating succulents from leaves. For example, the temperature and general climate where you live, the temperature and climate inside your home, the amount of light you get, the time of year you try to propagate them, and more.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t propagate succulents—it just means that you might have to make a few little tweaks to make these steps work for you. The tips in this post are a great starting point, though.
Propagating succulents from cuttings
How to take a cutting from a succulent
One easy way to propagating a succulent is by taking a cutting from an existing plant. This method is generally a bit faster than the leaf propagation method, but it makes more of an impact on the plant since you have to remove part of it. Even if it’s just a small part.
Use sharp, clean scissors to take a cutting. You can cut off the top of a plant, which is a good option if a plant is getting leggy. Succulents can sometimes get leggy when they aren’t getting enough sunlight. When a succulent gets leggy, its stem stretches out and the leaves will be more spaced out. It’s literally stretching toward the light.
You can save this plant by cutting off the top and then move the original plant to a more suitable location with better light. If your plant isn’t leggy, you can just cut off a piece on the stem anywhere on the plant. If your plant has new offshoots, you can cut those off, too. A lot of my plants get new offshoots when I set them outside for the summer and they grow like crazy.
How to plant the cutting to grow a new succulent
When you’re propagating a succulent using a cutting, you first need to let the cut end or base of the leaf dry. This is a very similar process to the one used to propagate prickly pear cactus pads. A few days should be just fine.
You can let it dry just about anywhere. Drying out the cut end of a succulent cutting is important because it will help regulate how much water the little baby takes in when rooting.
Before planting your cutting, you can dip it in a bit of powdered rooting hormone. I didn’t used to use a rooting hormone, but a little goes a long way, so I decided to invest in some. To plant your succulent cutting, just stick the stem in the soil like any other plant.
How often should I water a succulent cutting?
Water the succulent when you notice the soil is dry. You’ll water more than you would a full-grown succulent because this baby still needs to develop roots. However, overwatering can lead to rot, which you don’t want. You can slow your watering to normal succulent levels once you notice the cutting has new growth.
Propagating succulents from leaves
Removing a succulent leaf to propagate
Many succulent varieties can be propagated using leaves from an existing plant. That’s right—you don’t even need an entire cutting! This is a way to grow more plants than you would be able to grow from cuttings, but it takes a bit longer because you’re starting from scratch.
As I mentioned previously, a lot of my propagated succulent pieces are actually accidents. When I am moving, repotting, or arranging succulents, I sometimes known leaves off. They can be a bit fragile to work with. But that’s okay, because you can usually use the leaf you accidentally knocked off to grow a new plant.
The key to removing a succulent leaf successfully is making sure you have all of the leaf. Do not leave any portion on the stem, even if it’s just a tiny bit. This will help the cutting develop. Here is an example of a good cutting vs. a not-so-good cutting. But don’t overthink this. 🙂
How often should I water a succulent leaf?
You can get started propagating your succulent leaf immediately. You don’t plant the leaves like you’d plant a cutting. Here’s how I like to start my succulent leaves to begin propagating them:
- Dab the cut end of each leaf in a powdered rooting hormone.
- Lay each leaf out on a layer of soil (do not plant). I like to use my clear plastic salad propagation station, which I fill with a bit of soil and set in a bathroom window (higher humidity!).
- Water the cuttings just enough to wet the top of the soil. Don’t overwater to soak the soil.
- Repeat each time the soil feels dry on top.
How long does it take to propagate succulents
It can take a while before you see new growth when you’re propagating succulents from leaves and cuttings. Likely a few weeks to a month depending on the temperature and humidity conditions. You’ll notice new growth, signifying that the cutting has rooted. I like to root cuttings in very small makeshift pots so they feel nice and cosy. As the new plant grows, you can repot it into a slightly larger pot. Or you can add it to a succulent arrangement.
If you’re propagating succulents from leaves, the process takes much longer. After you’ve been watering your leaves for a few weeks, you should notice stringy roots beginning to sprout from the leaf base. This is a great sign! Eventually, you will notice tiny new leaves emerging from the base as well. It’s a fun process to watch.
Once the leaf has sprouted roots and a few tiny new leaves, I like to move it its own pot. A very small makeshift pot will do, but I want to get it rooted in some well-draining soil. Simply pat a bit of the soil over the new roots. You can gently remove the original leaf if you’d like. Though it may have shriveled and fallen off already.
Why are my succulent cuttings dying?
Every single time I’ve propagated a few succulent leaves, some of them have died. Don’t worry about it if some of your leaves don’t make it. They could either shrivel up and die, or they could sprout roots and roots and roots but never any new leaves. It’s frustrating, but it’s okay.
I like to look at propagating succulents, especially by leaf, as a trial-and-error process. Since so much of it depends on the conditions the leaves are in, you need to find what works best for you. I’d also recommend trying your hand at propagating succulent leaves for the first time in the spring, summer, or fall. The winter might be more frustrating.
Most of all, remember to be patient! The succulent propagation process can take a while. Even when you have a new plant in its own container, it can take a while to reach full succulent size. Continue babying it and giving it the love it needs, and you will be there soon.
Want more plant care tips? You’ll also love my guides on how to take care of snake plants, how to propagate snake plants, how to take care of pothos plants, how to take care of rubber plants, how to care for elephant ear varieties, how to care for philodendron, tips for helping monstera deliciosa plants thrive.
How to get free succulent leaves and cuttings to propagate
Propagating succulents from leaves and cuttings can be an affordable hobby, too. Taking succulent cuttings from existing plants in a store is stealing, and nurseries really frown upon it. However, when I see leaves that have fallen off the plants, I usually ask one of the workers if I can take them! If they have no plans to do anything with them, they’re just going to die anyway. Then I walk out of there guilt-free without spending a dime!
Tip: You’re probably more likely to have this happen at a big box store like Home Depot or Lowes where they definitely aren’t going to do anything with the cuttings. At a nursery, I’d say it’s less likely.
If you have any succulent-loving friends, you can also ask them very nicely for a leaf or a cutting. Most plant lovers are generous people, I’d think, so you might score a couple leaves to work with. I love giving leaves and cuttings away to people who want to start propagating. I even sent a bunch to my friend Chelsea last year!
If you live in an area where succulents grow outdoors, you can probably take a leaf yourself without any trouble. Chances are that there are already some leaves that have fallen already. I did something similar when we were in Florida a few years ago. Air plants grow everywhere down there, so I took a few back home to Maryland with me!