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How to Propagate Succulents From Leaves and Cuttings

Learn how to propagate succulents from leaves and cuttings—it’s easy and rewarding!

Learn how to propagate succulents from leaves and cuttings!

One of the earliest plant care guides I wrote many, many years ago was a guide to taking care of succulents indoors. They are simple to take care of as long as you provide enough light and don’t overwater.

They are fun to propagate, too. 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.

The best time to propagate succulents from leaves and cuttings is during your growing season. For me in the U.S., that’s April through September. Any time of the year will do, though—but you might have a lower success rate without adding in an additional light or heat source. So let’s talk about what you need to know to get started propping!

propagating succulents from leaves and cuttings

Propagating succulents overview

  • The best time to propagate succulents is in the spring and summer.
  • Take a cutting from the tip of a plant’s stem using sharp, clean scissors; remove the bottom-most set of leaves to expose growth points.
  • Allow the cutting to dry for a few days before planting in well-draining soil; water when the soil is almost dry.
  • Once the cutting roots and begins producing new growth, reduce watering levels to normal levels (i.e., letting the soil dry out completely before watering).
  • To propagate using leaves, remove leaves and lay out over soil; do not plant.
  • Moisten the soil, repeating when dry; you can also add the leaves to an existing plant’s pot, and they will get moisture when you water the plant.
  • Stem cuttings can take several weeks to months for new growth, while leaf propagations can take even longer depending on conditions.
  • Not all propagated leaves will survive; some may develop roots but not leaves; have patience and adjust conditions as necessary.

Propagating succulents using stem cuttings

The first method to propagating a succulent is by using a stem cutting. This is done by taking a cutting from an existing plant, rooting it, and planting it separately.

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. Here are the steps.

Step 1: Take a cutting

Use sharp, clean scissors to take a cutting. The cutting should be a few inches long. Remove the bottom-most set of leaves to expose growth points.

You can cut off the top of a plant, which is a good option if a plant is leggy. Succulents can get leggy when they aren’t getting enough sunlight. The stem stretches out and the leaves will be more spaced out. It’s literally stretching toward the 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.

succulent stem cuttings
succulent stem cutting

Step 2: Plant the cutting

When you’re propagating a succulent using a cutting, first let the cut end dry. This is a very similar process to the one used to propagate prickly pear cactus pads. A day or so should be 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 the cutting, you can dip it in a bit of powdered rooting hormone. I don’t always use rooting hormone, but a little goes a long way, so I usually use a bit if I have it. To plant your succulent cutting, just stick the stem into a small container of succulent or cactus soil.

planting a succulent stem cutting

Step 3: Water and monitor growth

Water the propagation 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.

I do recommend letting the soil dry out at least halfway before watering it again. You can slow your watering to normal succulent levels once you notice the cutting has new growth. Check out the change in growth over a few months for the propagated cuttings below!

propagated succulents
crassula succulents in a colorful pot

Propagating succulents using single leaves

Another common method for propagating succulents is by using single leaves. That’s right—you can grow new plants from a single leaf for many different types of succulents! This method takes longer and has a higher chance of failure compared to stem cuttings, but it’s still pretty easy. Let’s walk through the steps.

Step 1: Remove a succulent leaf

The key to removing a succulent leaf successfully is to make sure you have all of the leaf. Do not leave any portion on the stem, even if it’s just a tiny bit. Below is an example of a good cutting. I also like to take a few to root in the same pot to increase my chances of success.

As I mentioned previously, a lot of my propagated succulent pieces are actually accidents. When I am moving, repotting, or arranging succulents, I sometimes knock leaves off. They can be a bit fragile to work with. Especially donkey tail succulents!

hand holding a bunch of succulent leaves

Step 2: Lay in soil or a plant pot

Next lay the leaves on top of soil. You can put some soil in a small dish or pot. Or you can just use the soil in an existing pot. I often do this—see the pics below! Saves resources 🙂

Put in a windowsill or other area that gets plenty of bright, indirect light. Some direct sun is fun, but avoid too much intense afternoon sun so you don’t nuke the leaves of all their moisture!

burro's tail succulent growth
succulent leaf sprouting roots

Step 3: Keep soil moist

Water the cuttings just enough to wet the top of the soil. Don’t overwater to soak the soil. You can even use a spray bottle if you’re just laying the leaves in a shallow vessel.

If you are putting some leaves on top of the soil in another plant’s pot, just water the plant as normal. The propagations will get all the moisture they need! Monitor for root development and new leaves.

succulent leave sprouting new leaves

Step 4: Transfer to soil

When you notice sufficient growth and some roots beginning to dig into the soil, you can transfer the cutting to its own pot. Do so carefully, gently digging out the area around the cutting to capture any roots that have already taken hold.

If the original leaf has already shriveled up, you can pluck it off. If not, you can transfer that over with the new plant. It will die off eventually on its own.

Use fresh succulent soil and plant in a pot with drainage holes. Put in bright light. Water sparingly—once about the top half of the soil has dried out—until you notice need growth and full rooting. Then back off the watering and make sure to let the soil dry out completely before watering again.

small succulent propagation
A few weeks after rooting
small succulent propagation
…and a few months after rooting!

How long does it take to propagate succulents?

If you are propagating succulents from cuttings, you’ll see new growth and progress much faster than you would with leaves. In ideal conditions, you will notice the cutting rooting in a few weeks with new growth on the cutting following not long after.

But don’t be discouraged if it takes longer. As long as the cutting remains alive and healthy, it’s likely just taking its time. Gently tug on the cutting’s stem every week or so to see if you get resistance. Resistance means it is rooting.

If you’re propagating succulents from leaves, it 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’ll notice the leaves emerge as well.

After you move the baby propagation into soil, it can take several weeks for the cutting to root and begin growing. I have started rooting succulent leaves in April and had small but established plants by July.

trailing succulent

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.

Since so much of it depends on the conditions the leaves are in, you need to find what works best for you. Most of all, remember to be patient! The 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 size. Continue babying it and giving it the love it needs, and you will be there soon.

beautiful succulents in a pot

How to get free succulent leaves to propagate

Propagating succulents 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.

In fact, when one of my cats knocked over my big burro’s tail succulent and a ton of leaves fell off, I gave them away to so many people! At least 50 leaves fells off because those plants are so fragile.

Sedum cuttings rooting in soil

In conclusion…

The process to propagate succulents from leaves and cuttings is a fun and requires only a little patience and a bit of know-how. Whether you’re taking cuttings or using fallen leaves, the key is to provide the right amount of water and light, and to be patient as the succulents take root and grow.

With time and experience, you’ll find that propagating succulents can be an incredibly fulfilling and cost-effective way to expand your garden. Happy planting!!

Pin my tips for propagating succulents!

collage that says how to propagate succulents from leaves and cuttings with images of the process

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