Have you ever looked at a succulent and thought: “I wish I could multiply this plant”? Well, you can! Propagating succulents from leaves and cuttings is very easy and you can divide these plants endlessly. Propagating is also a good option if your succulents become too leggy.
Keep reading for a handy step by step guide on how to propagate succulents!
Note: All the instructions in this article roughly apply to cacti as well. However, for more specific information about multiplying cacti, you might want to head over to the cactus propagation guide instead!
Propagating succulents step one: Get your cuttings
How to propagate succulents from leaves
For many of the popular species, succulent propagation is possible using just a single leaf. They’ve evolved to grow roots and eventually a tiny new plant from any leaf that drops from the mother plant!
To remove a leaf, don’t cut it through the middle: just gently twist it off. Not all succulents grow from leaves, but if you don’t want to have to scour the web to see whether yours will, the best option is to just try it.
How to propagate succulents using stem cuttings
The downside of growing a succulent from a single leaf is that you’ll end up with a teeny tiny plant that needs quite a bit of time to grow to a good size. If you’d like to skip that and start with a more sizeable plant, succulent propagation is also possible using stem cuttings.
Taking a stem cutting means you cut off a side branch or the top of a succulent using a sharp, clean knife. Once this cutting has been planted it’ll keep growing as usual, meaning you can basically choose the size of your new plant!
Did you know? After obtaining your leaves or cuttings, leave them to dry for a few days. I usually leave mine around a week or until I have time to prepare them. This drying period gives the cuttings time to callous, which helps prevent rot from popping up later in the process.
How to propagate succulents from offsets
Many of the succulents that can’t be propagated using cuttings will still produce offsets (also known as pups) that you can use to divide them. Aloe barbadensis is a good example: the mother plant will produce tiny copies of herself that pop up in the soil around her. You can leave these offsets in the same container or pot them up separately to expand your collection!
Just wait for pups to pop up next to the mother plant and use a sharp, clean knife to sever their connection. In many cases these offsets will even already have their own root system, meaning that separating offsets is actually the quickest way to propagate a succulent.
Tip: If you don’t have any succulents that you can take cuttings from, a cheap option is to buy some cuttings online to get your collection started! They cost less than fully established plants.
Propagating succulents step two: Prepare a planter
Once you’ve obtained your succulent leaves/cuttings and let them dry for a while, it’s time to prepare a pot for them. If you have a bunch of leaves or cuttings to propagate, a relatively low, wide planter should work so you don’t have to place all of them in individual planters. Or you could even just use an egg carton for single leaf propagation projects!
Whatever type of planter you go for, keep in mind that it should always offer drainage in the form of a hole in the bottom. Succulent roots have not evolved to be able to deal with standing water. Some succulent enthusiasts even like to go for terracotta, which allows soil to dry extra fast because water can evaporate through its porous walls.
Once you’ve got your pot, fill it with some premade cactus soil mix or a 50/50 mix of potting soil and gritty material. Perlite, pumice or crushed volcano rock should work well for this.
Tip: All the information you need about succulent soil and choosing the right planter, which also applies to cuttings, can be found in the guide on planting succulents.
Propagating succulents step three: The waiting game
If you decided to propagate your succulents from leaves, you can simply place them on top of the potting soil. No need to bury them or push them into the medium. Then, just move the container to a place with plenty of indirect sunlight. And then you wait!
While waiting for baby succulents to appear, water regularly by spraying the leaves once the soil dries out. Remember that, as with all succulents, it can be a little difficult to find a balance while watering and things should neither be too wet nor too dry.
Not all leaves will produce new succulents, but you should see teeny tiny roots and eventually leaves start to appear on some of them after a while. Congrats, you now have a baby succulent.
Tip: The mini succulents that form on a leaf propagation are very fragile. It’s best to refrain from touching them at all until they’re a bit bigger.
During Winter the succulent propagation process could take a few weeks, while it can be much quicker during Summer. Cover the little roots with some soil and continue watering; you can carefully remove the original leaf after a while or just leave it on until it falls off by itself.
If you’re propagating succulents from cuttings, the process is a little different. You don’t have to wait for a new succulent to form, so you can just stick the stem portion into the soil and voila! Spray regularly until you start seeing some growth on your cuttings and then carefully switch to a regular succulent watering schedule.
Tip: Not sure if your stem cutting has rooted yet? If it’s been a few weeks, you can give it an ever so gentle tug. Feel any resistance? That means a root system has formed. Once you see new leaves appearing you’ll know you’re fully in the clear.
Succulent propagation in water
If you were wondering whether succulent propagation in water is also an option: it is! It’s not the most common method since these plants root so well in soil, but it’s definitely an option. And who doesn’t love the look of pretty vases with colorful succulent cuttings on a nice shelf?
Succulent propagation in water is easiest with stem cuttings. For this, you can just fill a vase about halfway and pop the cutting in there so that the bottom is submerged.
If using leaves, you could use a wider glass and cover the top with plastic film, cutting little holes for each leaf to go in. This allows you to wedge the leaf into the plastic film and position it so that the tip is just touching the water.
Once your leaves and cuttings are installed, place the vase in a spot that receives bright indirect light (full sun is a bit too harsh). The nice thing about this method is that you can actually see the roots appearing on your cuttings if you’re using a translucent container! Once this happens you can follow the instructions on potting above.
Growing succulents from seed
Do you consider yourself to be a person of… above average patience levels? A hardcore succulent enthusiast? If you can wait for up to a year or more to see some good results, you could consider trying your hand at growing your own succulents from seed. It’s fun and rewarding even if it does take ages!
To grow succulents from seed, you’ll first have to find some high quality seeds. Websites like Amazon and AliExpress will have loads of sellers promising all sorts of exotic succulent species, but their trustworthiness is very low. Many of these seeds won’t sprout at all, or if they do, you’ll just end up with a planter full of weeds. Find a reputable seller!
Tip: I’ve found Agave a pretty good species to use for your first time growing succulents from seed.
The process of growing succulents from seed is the same for pretty much all species, at least until the seedlings are a few months old. It’s pretty simple:
- Use a normal planter or go for a seedling tray. A shallow, wide dish also works well.
- Fill the container with a gritty succulent soil and wet the medium thoroughly.
- Sprinkle the seeds on the soil, making sure not to use too many in each planter. This is one of the more difficult parts since succulent seeds can be seriously tiny, making them challenging to handle.
- Cover the container with plastic film to create a mini greenhouse.
- Place the container in a well-lit spot, though avoid direct sun. If the location is nice and warm that’s a plus.
- Sit back and twiddle your thumbs. The medium should stay moist because of the plastic film over it, so you probably won’t have to do anything at all for a few weeks.
- Once you see little seedlings popping up (and they’re tiny!), you can remove the plastic film.
- Moisten the soil daily. It’s easiest to do this with a spray bottle or you might risk washing the seedlings all over the place.
- Once they start to look a bit more like real succulents you can switch to a normal watering schedule.
- After a year or so, you can move your baby succulents to their own individual containers.
As I hope you concluded from this guide, succulent propagation is super easy! Of course not all propagation attempts will be successful but the methods here almost always work.
Happy propagating! If you have any more questions about how to propagate succulents or want to share your own experiences with succulent propagation, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.