Welcome to our guide to our step by step guide to succulent propagation with pictures. Succulents are great to propagate from ‘beheadings’ or leaf cuttings, they just need to be in a potting medium to root and kept moist for a couple of months…
Welcome to our guide to succulent propagation. Luckily these pretty and popular plants are easy and fun to propagate. We cover leaf and water prop, as well as some other topics and common issues…
Step By Step Succulent Leaf Propagation (with Pictures)
Here’s our step by step guide to succulent leaf propagation which involved rooting them out of soil, then moving to soil and keeping them moist. In the example I am propagating a burro’s tail and a couple of echeverias too to show how I do it.
Take the leaf cuttings – the easiest are normally from the base of the plant. You should take the whole leaf with a clean break or it will not propagate. Gently twist it to release it.
Then put them on a plate or dry surface for a month or more so that they can root without getting wet. If you put them directly on soil it will also work but you can get more rot. They will callous over and then they should start to grow roots and even stems and leaves using the energy stored in the leaf cutting.
When they have grown some roots you can move them to soil. It is really important that the roots are a decent size first as they are so delicate they can break. They may also start to grow stems and leaves too which is great. Be really careful of these cuttings!
Add the cuttings to soil. You want to prepare a plant pot with soil, then water it and let the excess water drain off for a few minutes. It is important that the soil is wet beforehand, as you do not want to water it afterwards as it can damage the delicate roots. I then use a pen or a chopstick to make holes in the soil which need to be big enough to plant the leaf cuttings root down.
You can then put the leaf cuttings gently in each hole, being really careful of the roots, especially when propagating the burro’s tails as they are so small.
You want to keep the soil slightly moist. I use a mister for this. If you pour water on to the soil it can rip the roots off or displace the cuttings. If the soil dries out it is ok, but don’t leave it dry for too long. Also Keep the pot in a humid, well-lit part of the house. Give it plenty of light but keep it out of direct sun.
This will work with most sedums (burro’s tails) and echeverias. The key is to take a clean cuttings by twisting the leaves gently (so you get a good surface that will grow roots from) and to let them root on a dry surface to avoid rot, then pot them up in soil once rooted and mist them as the roots are delicate.
I took the cuttings early September and then moved them to soil mid October.
Don’t worry if some cuttings don’t make it, it is perfectly normal for some to rot or die off without rooting.
Keep them watering them sparingly with a mister or spray for about another 2 months until they are well established and putting out a lot of new growth and stems from the top of the plant. At this point you can divide them up and repot them in their own individual pots.
Succulent Propagation In Water
If you’ve not done it before it seems strange that succulents will propagate in water and not rot. But they do very well with this method, and it is very easy, here’s a step by step guide of what you need to do:
- Step 1: make a cutting.
- Step 2: remove leaves from the bottom part of the stem (these can cause the water to go cloudy and make the stem rot)
- Step 3: leave the cutting to callous over for a week.
- Step 4: fill a jar with water and cover it in plastic wrap. Make a small hole in the center.
- Step 5: put the cutting in the hole so that it is supported and the bottom is in the water. This way it will grow roots below the water and new leaves above the water.
- Step 6: put it in bright indirect sunlight.
- Step 7: wait for the roots to grow.
- Step 8: pot it up in cactus and succulent mix.
Using Sphagnum Moss
Sphagnum moss can be really good for rooting plants, take cuttings and put them on a bed of moss (like you would use soil in the soil method). Keep it moist and humid and you can get very quick rooting. You get air to the roots and much less rot than you get with soil. This is a great method. See also the String Of Hearts Butterfly Method.
Why Do Succulent Cuttings Need to Callous Over?
The leaves or cuttings should be left for a few days after cutting them before putting them in the propagating medium as it will reduce the risk of rot considerably, as leaving an open wound allows rot to take hold more easily, so you want to let them callous over.
What Succulents Can You Propagate From Leaves?
Echeverias are good for this method as are Sedums like Burro’s Tail and Jelly Bean Plant.
What Succulents Can Be Propagated In Water?
The majority of succulents can be propagated in water, using stem and sometimes leaf cuttings. Even Aloe Veras, Echevarias, Jade Plants, Sedums, and all sorts!
Succulent Propagation From Stem Cuttings (beheading!)
If your plant gets leggy or straggly you can cut the top off it and then use that as a new plant, while the old plant will also produce new growth. You need to take the leaves from the lower part of the stem and then put the cutting in water after leaving it to callous for a week. See the water method above. This will work well for something like a Burro’s Tail for example, if one of the branches is looking worse for wear and has lost some leaves have fallen off you can cut it off and start again.
Succulent Propagation With Root Division
You can divide succulents at the root. Plants like Echeverias for example, if you have a few plants close together in the same pot. A good time to do this is when repotting, just remove the soil and pull the plants apart carefully. Be careful to damage the roots as little as possible, you might need to use a knife if they are really joined, just try to keep as much o the roots as possible. Then plant the succulents up separately.
How Long Does It Take To Propagate Succulents?
From callousing and root growth through to having a well rooted small new plant to pot up the whole process should take 2 or 3 months, although you should see new root growth in a couple of weeks.
How Often To Mist Succulent Propagations
You can mist leaf cuttings once a day to keep the soil slightly damp. But only mist it lightly you do not want to soak the soil and plants to the extent that they will rot. I like to keep humidity high by putting the whole pot inside a bigger see-through plastic storage box to keep it humid. You can also put the whole thing inside a plastic bag. Make sure you change the air every few days if you use these humidity methods as fungus or mold can take hold if they don’t get fresh air.
How To Speed Up Succulent Propagation
You can speed up propagations by giving them as much indirect sunlight as you can. Also put a bag over them to keep the humidity up can really help, just make sure you change the air over day or two to avoid rot.
Also for the leaf cuttings, once a new plant and roots are established you can remove the original leaf that might be taking some of the energy from the plant. Do not do this too early – you need to have a root system and plant already growing, and be very careful you don’t destroy the root system – hold the new plant and roots together gently while pulling off the old leaf. Really, be careful! Or the roots can be damaged.
Can You Put Succulent Cuttings Straight Into Soil?
You can put succulent cuttings straight into soil but they will have a better chance if you let them callous over for a week first as this protects the open would from rotting. They do not need to be water propagated first. I would try to keep them as humid as possible by putting the whole pot in a plastic bag, for example.
For more on which cactus and succulent compost to buy or how to make you own, see our guide: Succulent Soil.
Where To Cut Succulent Stem?
You want to cut below a node, or where the plant produces more branches. As this is where roots will grow from. If you cannot see any nodes, then do not worry, get as much stem as you can. Use a sharp knife.
Which Succulents Can Be Propagated From Leaf?
Sedums (i.e. burro’s tail), Echeverias, and Kalanchoes (like mother of thousands) are easy to propagate from leaf cuttings.
Will Succulents Root In Water?
Yes most will root in water and some can even grow there indefinitely.
Succulent Water Propagation Vs Soil
Water prop is great as you get much less chance of rot. But in general I prefer soil for succulents but I make sure I let the cuttings callous over completely and then I keep the container humid with a plastic bag for the best chances of success.
Which Succulents Are Easy To Propagate?
African milk tree, aloe vera, Christmas cactus, jade plant, sedums (jelly beans, burros tail etc), string of pearls and many more are all easy to propagate.
Hope you found our succulent propagation guide useful. Please tag us on Instagram on any new plants you make, and good luck.