Learning how to propagate succulents yourself at home is a straightforward way to expand your succulent collection. If you love growing succulents then this is an essential skill to add to your repertoire.
Propagation Methods for Succulents
If you want to propagate your own succulents at home then the first thing that you need to understand is that there are different propagation methods that you might use:
- Propagating by division of offsets from the parent plant.
- Propagating by leaf cuttings or stem cuttings.
- Or Propagating by seeds.
These methods are listed above in increasing order of difficulty. Not all options will be available for all succulents, but many succulents can be propagated in all of these ways, some in one or more of them.
Offsets (or ‘Pups’)
Many succulents once happy and growing strongly will produce young offsets, or plantlets, around the base of the parent plant, on stems extending from it, or somewhere on the ‘mother’ plant.
Often, the easiest method of propagation simply involves digging up or separating these ‘pups’ as they are sometimes called, dividing them from the parent plant, and repotting them into their own individual containers.
Leaf Cuttings or Stem Cuttings
Another option that can be used with most succulents is propagation from cuttings. Depending on which specific succulent type and variety you are looking to propagate, you can either take leaf cuttings or stem cuttings. One or the other will typically be recommended for a specific plant.
Sometimes when taking cuttings you will snip off a fleshy succulent leaf. At other times you may take portions of a stem with some leaves attached.
Finally, some succulents can be propagated by seed. But you should note that this is by far the most challenging option, and you will have to be very patient as when grown from seed, succulents will typically take a very long time to reach a reasonable size – and there is a lot that can go wrong along the way.
What You Need to Propagate Succulents
To propagate succulents, whichever of the above options you choose to do so, you will need:
- an existing succulent from which to take offsets or cuttings, or seeds to sow.
- Pots or other containers for your new succulent plants. Remember that for succulents, these containers should ideally allow water to evaporate relatively quickly, and should have good drainage holes at the base to excess water can drain away freely.
- A suitable growing medium for succulents to fill your new pots or other containers. For succulents, a free-draining, light, and friable potting mix is essential. You can purchase one specifically designed for succulents (and ideally peat-free for environmental reasons) or you can make your own. Make sure you understand the specific needs of the particular succulent or succulents that you want to grow.
- Water – to water in the new plants to give the moisture needed for rooting to take place.
If using offsets of cuttings, you will likely also need a sharp and clean gardening knife, secateurs, or scissors.
How to Propagate Succulents From Offsets
Pups can be cut away from the parent as soon as they are large enough to handle, with a clean, sharp gardening knife, pruners, or gardening scissors. You do not necessarily always need to remove pups right away but doing so is often the easiest way to obtain new plants.
You should then leave the cut to callus over (dry out) for a few days to reduce the chances of a fungal issue taking hold. And can then plant the pup into a suitable succulent potting mix to root.
How to Propagate Succulents from Leaf or Stem Cuttings
Propagating succulents by leaf or stem cuttings is not too much more challenging than the above. The key thing to determine is which of these two sorts of cuttings you should take for the succulent or succulents that you want to grow.
To propagate succulents from leaf or stem cuttings:
- Take your cuttings.
- Let a callus form over the cuts.
- Fill containers with a suitable potting mix.
- Place your cuttings into their new containers.
- Care for the baby plants until roots form. Watering moderately and making sure that the growing medium does not dry out entirely for too long, but also making sure that waterlogged conditions do not arise.
- Once they have rooted well, pot up your new plants as needed.
- Place your succulents in their new growing positions or pot them up into larger containers as required.
One other option is to place the cuttings in water to root. This also works with many different succulents and when you take this option, it will be easier to see precisely what is going on with the new plant.
Just make sure that you refresh the water regularly, and pot up into soil or potting mix once the roots are well-formed so the new plants can get the nutrients they need.
How to Propagate Succulents from Seed
The third and most difficult option – growing succulents from seed – is certainly only for the patient. But if you want to take this route, make sure that you source your seeds from a reputable seller.
Succulent seeds can be tiny and tricky to handle, but you can broadcast them thinly onto the surface of a free-draining seed-starting potting mix in a seed tray or other container.
Often heat will be needed for succulent seed germination so a heated propagator or a heat mat providing bottom heat can be useful for this process and increase the chances of success.
The precise process, and environmental requirements for germination, will depend on the specific species that you are trying to grow.
Remember that hybrid succulent types and numerous cultivars won’t ‘come true’ – in other words, they might not look like the parent plant. But with species types, you might wish to give sowing the seeds a go.
Just remember that many succulents are slow-growing and it could be a year or even more before your new plants reach a reasonable size and are better able to stand on their own in your home or garden.