How to Propagate Succulents - Ultimate Guide
In this Ultimate Guide, we are going to show you how to propagate succulents using different methods. There are many ways and we will cover almost all of them here that may come in handy when looking for a way to make your succulents collection. We will focus on selecting what's good for beginners but also include advanced techniques so more experienced succulents lovers won't be left behind either.
Scared that it's too difficult? Don't worry! All these methods are easy once you know how to do them but remember, only practice makes you perfect...
What is Propagation and why should I explore this subject?
Propagation is the process of producing new plants from a parent plant, called the 'mother plant'. This happens in many ways, like leaf & stem cuttings, etc., and we are going to explore them all for you to know what suits you best.
Propagating succulents from leaf cuttings is very easy and anyone can do it if they follow few simple steps. We'll cover this in detail in the coming sections.
Also note, Not all succulents can be propagated, and not all succulent plants can grow from cuttings. There are some exceptions though. For example, many succulents (notably Sempervivum or Jovibarba species) can be grown from seeds while many cacti, which are actually succulents too, can be propagated from stem cuttings.
The History of Propagating Plants
Propagating plants from cuttings goes far back. Even further than we could imagine, as documented evidence suggests that this method belonged to ancient Egyptian civilization and they deliberately used it for a number of plants, the most notable among them being the fig tree (Ficus carica).
Are Cuttings the Only Way to Propagate Succulents?
Of course, not! There are some other ways that may be used to propagate succulent plants. Like propagating succulents from seeds or, even more fun and interesting, from grafting succulents.
In the propagation phase, watering is very important for success and we will also cover this matter here so you won't have any problem with your new succulent baby plants.
How to Take a Succulent Cutting?
This is the first important step, so mentioning it at the beginning of the article.
Taking a cutting is very simple. The most important thing when taking cuttings is to avoid damaging the roots, especially for new plant development. For this you can use a sharp knife or scissors or even you can twist it with your hand as well.
There are two types of succulent cuttings that you can take.
1. A succulent plant cutting with foliage and roots left intact.
2. Without the root system - this is when you remove leaves, stems, or pups from the parent plant, to be used for rooting later on.
The 2nd method is especially popular among succulents/cacti propagation lovers. Because there are many more ways to take cuttings without harming the parent plant. Thus decreasing transplantation shock and getting new plants even faster.
What Size is the Best for Succulent Cuttings?
Basically, taking a mature leaf of the parent plant will be enough for propagation. For the stem, it varies from species to species. For most, taking a stem cutting that is longer than the plant leaf length will work fine. But you can cut longer if you wish to increase the success rate.
Most of my cuttings are 1-1/2 inches to 3 inches (3.5 cm to 7.5 cm) in length. Any longer and I have had rooting issues, but this may be due to the fact that my succulents grow on rocky soil, which has little water or nutrients, and the longer cuttings can suffer more from this lack.
In some succulents types, I have also had success using 4-inch (10 cm) long cuttings and 5-inch cuttings (12.5 cm).
Other factors include sun exposure, air circulation around the cutting, and humidity. So I recommend experimenting with different sizes of cuttings to see what works best for you in your climate and conditions.
How to Propagate Succulents from Leaf Cutting?
This is an easy way to propagate succulents from leaves, however, you need fast-growing and big size leaf. Many professionals propagate several succulents in this way with a great success rate. You can try this with different varieties of succulent species.
Follow the following steps to propagate succulents from leaf cutting.
Step 1: Cut a Healthy and Big Size Leaf
First, we will need a leaf that is healthy, not diseased or damaged. Most succulents leaves are covered with wax and you should remove them before trying to propagate succulents from leaf cutting. The easiest way to do this is by rubbing the leaf gently between your hands until most of it comes off. If some remains on the cuttings, it may cause rot.
Step 2: Let it heal itself for a day or 2 (Important)
Place the leaf somewhere in the open air to callous for a day or 2. This will protect your cuttings from fungal attacks.
Step 3: Place the Leaf in a Succulent Soil Mix
Before planting your succulents leaf cutting, prepare or get a succulents soil mix. Fill a planter with this mixture and place the leaves into it to root. Only the cut part should be placed in the soil. You can place the leaf over the soil as well, and you'll need to mist the pot every time the soil gets dry.
Step 4: Gently Mist the Leaf Cutting with a Fine Spray Bottle
Mist the succulents leaf cutting with a fine spray bottle every day. You will notice that roots grow faster when they are misted regularly.
Step 5: Place it in Indirect Sunlight OR under Artificial Lights
Place the planter in a window that gets indirect sunlight or under artificial lights for 16 hours every day. If you are using an artificial lighting system, keep it 8-12 inches above the leaf-cutting.
Step 6: Transplant Succulent from Leaf Cutting into a Succulent Potting Mix
After several weeks or possibly months, succulents' leaves will start to grow new roots. It is time to repot the leaf-cutting into a good succulent potting mix. Repot it into a small container that has drainage holes and place it in indirect sunlight or under artificial lights again.
You can also take your chances and leave the leaf-cutting in the same pot and even place it outdoors. However, you will need to protect the succulent from frost and very hot temperatures.
If you follow these steps, then you should have no problem having your succulent leaves root and grow new plantlets!
How to Propagate Succulents from Stem Cuttings?
Succulent stems are also easy to propagate. However, succulent stem cutting is more prone to rot than leaves because they lack wax coating and often have more moisture inside them.
Before you begin this process, make sure the succulents variety you're trying to propagate isn't one of the poisonous or toxic succulents (some varieties contain oxalates). Some varieties can also cause skin irritation or allergies, so make sure to wear gloves and a protective mask.
If you're making stem cuttings from cacti, brush spines off of the cutting before planting to avoid getting hurt when handling it.
Step 1: Cut Off a Succulent Stem With Leaves Attached at the Top
You will need to cut off a succulent stem with leaves attached at the top. This part is important because it provides photosynthetic energy to your cuttings as they grow roots and become new plants. Make sure you're removing all of the leaves below.
Let it dry for some days. Usually callous takes 1-2 weeks depending on your succulent type. This is important.
Step 2: Trim Off the Bottom of the Stem
If you own a succulent with spines, make sure to remove them now. Sometimes they can be pulled off easily and sometimes you will need to cut them off with sharp garden scissors.
Step 3: Place the Stems in a Succulents Soil Mixture
After callous, choose a succulent potting mix that you can get online or create your own that meets your needs, fill up a large container with it, and place the stems into the soil.
Step 5: Cover Stems With Soil Mixture
Cover the stems with soil and make sure there is no exposed part of the stem pieces where roots are expected to grow from. This will prevent rot from occurring.
Step 6: Mist Them Regularly
You will also need to mist them regularly to keep the soil moist. For more in-depth watering info check the ultimate guide about how often to water succulents.
Step 7: Place in Sunlight or under Artificial Lights
Place stems in a window that gets direct sunlight for at least 8 hours daily or under artificial lights for 16 hours every day. The amount of light they need will vary depending on the succulents variety you're propagating, so make sure to check the information on its tag.
Step 8: Transplant Stems into a Pot with Good Soil Mix
After 2-3 weeks (or sometimes more) you will notice that plants have new growths and roots. It is now time to transplant them into a pot with a succulent soil mixture. You can also choose to leave the stems in their original container and place them outside. However, you will need to protect the stems from frost and very hot temperatures.
Tips for caring for succulents babies
- Make sure not to leave it outdoors on a cold night or an extremely hot day!
- Also, make sure the soil stays moist at all times by misting light each morning and evening.
- Keep the pot in a cool location like under a table, or on a porch, or you can place it near a window (if its cool) as well.
After the stems have rooted in, allow them to grow until they are large enough to be planted outside or in another container. You can also choose to keep them in the same container and repot them after they become too big for their current home.
Keep this process up for the best results! Enjoy.
How to Propagate Succulents in Water?
This technique is really simple and easy to do. The best part of propagating succulents in water is, you'll be able to monitor the growth easily.
In this technique, the succulents get moisture from the humidity, instead of directly watering them. I.e. The succulents leaves won't even touch the water, but only will get warm humidity from it, and will start rooting that you'll see easily.
The steps are as follow:
Step 1: Prepare the Bottle or Container
Take a bottle of water, better it should be a plastic bottle. Because you'll need to make small holes in it. You can also use any other container as well.
If it is a plastic bottle, make small holes in its upper section, to hold your succulent leaves. Do the same for other containers as well.
Step 2: Fit Succulents Cuttings/Leaves in the Bottle
Adjust those succulent leaves in bottle holes, so that the cut area goes inside the bottle. I.e. The leaves sides, where roots are expected will go inside the holes to be able to absorb humidity.
Step 3: Add Water and Keep it in Brithligth
Fill the bottle to the point of the holes section, and keep it in a bright area.
Change the water after every week to avoid any fungus attack.
Step 4: Transplant Your New Succulents Babies
In about 2-4 weeks, you'll see some roots coming out of those succulent cuttings/leaves. You can leave them there to grow more, OR you can get it out, and plant them in a good draining succulent soil.
Don't Worry if Some Succulents Dies
When you are trying to propagate them. It's normal that some may die! Don't give up, keep going, and surely, you will get a bunch of new succulents!
Many beginners face the same issue. There are a number of factors when propagating succulents. For instance, the soil, water, light, and temperature will affect succulents' growth. Some succulent species do require specific growing parameters to survive. So, it is possible, that any factor might have affected your succulents propagation without you noticing them.
When propagating succulents, you should always, propagate a bunch of them. So, if some die, many will still survive.
When you see some rooting, put some soil over it, and it'll start its growth. It is the best way to get a high success rate.
When to Plant Propagated Succulents
Most succulents take months to grow to their normal size. Some may even take years to grow. It is a slow process but surely works. Remember the following points to get the best out of your succulent propagation.
- Whenever you see roots coming out of your succulents cuttings/leaves, put some soil over them. Keep the soil watered regularly. So it'll have access to food and moisture and will start growing easily.
- The mother leaf will die and will separate by itself once the baby succulent gets larger. Just keep your baby succulents watered every time.
- Once your baby succulents are well rooted and be able to grow on their own, it's time to give them a new home by planting in another container.
Succulents are an easy and fun plant to grow, but propagating succulents can be a little bit more difficult than it seems. With the proper instructions, you'll know how to propagate succulent cuttings in water or soil for faster success rates.
We've covered all of the important aspects of propagating succulents so that you're able to get started quickly! Succulent plants are an excellent way to bring life into your home - whether they're potted on a porch or under a table indoors.
Please share this guide with your friends and family if it helps you.