How To Propagate Succulents from Leaves and Cuttings – A Beginner-Friendly Guide

Looking to add more succulents to your collection in a very cost-effective way? Then you may want to find out more on how to propagate succulents, and let me tell you, it’s really easy and a great way to grow new plants for free!

If you want to learn the secrets of how to propagate succulents in two easy ways, keep reading this smart guide, and you’ll succeed even if you are a complete beginner. In 5 easy steps, you can propagate plenty of new succulents from a single mother plant using leaves or cuttings. Get excited and let’s start now!

Featured Image Credit @thriftysucculents

How To Propagate Succulents from Leaves – 5 Easy Steps

Following this easy 5 step-by-step guide, you’ll learn how to propagate succulents in a breeze, and you’ll find the whole process a fun and rewarding activity!

Step 1: Prepare Your Leaves – How to remove a leaf for propagation

One of the easiest ways to propagate succulent plants is through leaf propagation. Make sure to choose healthy leaves from the mother plant for a higher chance of success. Look for full and plump leaves, not dehydrated and flat leaves. Choose leaves that are uniformly colored without any discolorations, spots, or marks. Do not use leaves that are damaged, ripped, torn, or misshapen. Gently remove the leaves from the stem.

Using your fingers, carefully twist off the leaves from the stem with your thumb and forefinger. You’ll notice that some leaves come off quite easily, whereas others are firmly attached to the stem.

Using a gentle motion, twist the leaf back and forth until it comes off. Make sure to remove the whole leaf, including the base that attaches to the stem otherwise your newly propagated plant will not survive.

Step 2: Drying Out Time

Allow the leaves to dry out for several days (3-10 days) on a tray in an area exposed to sunlight, but not under direct sun. You can keep them outside when temperatures are warm or inside when it’s too cold.

Meanwhile, prepare your pot with moist well-draining soil.

Step 3: Rooting Hormone Time (optional step)

This step is optional, but I highly recommend it to increase the chance of successful propagation.

What Is a Rooting Hormone?

Rooting hormones are used to stimulate the leaves so it speeds up the process of sending out new roots or new nodes. Rather than letting the leaves struggle on their own, rooting hormones encourage faster and stronger root development.

Rooting hormones also help increase the success rate of your plant propagation because they act as a catalyst for the new roots, protecting the leaves from fungus and diseases that may have occurred when removing them from the mother plant.

You can find rooting hormones in different formulations like powder, gel, or liquid available from online garden sites or at most garden supply stores. But if you are concerned about the chemical ingredients and how they might impact your health, you might want to try 100% organic formulas.

There are also natural products you can use that can help with the process of rooting your succulent plants. Some of these products are common household items you may have in your pantries, such as honey and cinnamon.

Read more on How To Propagate Succulents With Honey in this informative article!

Step 4: Rooting Time

Once your leaves are nicely coated with the rooting hormone of your choice, lay them on top of the potting soil or you can make holes in the soil with your finger and stick them inside cut down. I prefer to lay the cuts on the potting soil because I can see when the baby roots are starting to form.

While waiting for the leaves to the root, keep them away from direct sunlight, better if in a partially shaded area. Too much direct sun could cause them to dry out completely and die.

The rooting time depends on the type of succulent, climate, and season, but normally, after a couple of weeks, you should see little pink roots growing from the cuts, and new baby rosettes will eventually emerge. Using a spray bottle, mist the leaves. and the soil to keep enough hydration and, at the same time, avoid the risk of root rot.

Keep in mind, not every leaf will grow a new plant. In my experience, some leaves just wither away, some will take root while never growing a new plant, and some might even grow a plant, but never root.

Once the baby rosettes start growing bigger, the leaf that you used to propagate will start to wither on its own. You can either remove the original leaf by gently twisting it off or wait for it to fall off on its own.

Step 5: Transplant Time

Finally, it’s time to transplant the baby rosettes into a pot filled with well-draining soil. I always recommend using a terracotta or clay pot with drain holes to reduce the risk of overwatering and consequent root rot. Terracotta or clay pots provide a healthy environment for most plants. The porosity of clay allows air and moisture to penetrate the sides of the pot. of a pot filled with well-draining potting soil.

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Protect the new baby plants from direct sunlight. They are very delicate at this stage and will not be able to tolerate full sun. Place in a shaded or partially shaded area away from direct sunlight.

Make sure to provide enough moisture by watering occasionally every 2-3 weeks to allow the roots to properly develop.

Read more about the watering schedule in this interesting article on how and when to water succulents.

Once your plant is more established, you can slowly increase the intensity of the sun it receives by placing the pot in a brighter location. Finally, enjoy watching your plant gradually growing into a mature and gorgeous succulent!

How To Propagate Succulents from Cuttings

For succulents that have grown leggy (a natural phenomenon called ‘etoliation’) from the lack of sunlight, or for trailing ones like String of Dolphins, propagation from stem cuttings is ideal. This process has a higher rate of success when the succulent is about to begin its active growth period, either at the end of a dormant period (usually winter months) or at the beginning of a growth period (usually spring-summer months).

When the plant is actively growing, new baby roots on the cuttings will take less time to form and the new plant will have the best chance for survival.

A warning before we start: make sure you research the toxicity of your succulent before taking the cuttings. Some succulents like Euphorbias and Kalanchoes contain a white latex sap that causes skin irritation and rashes and wearing gloves is highly recommended.

Read more about succulent toxicity in this super informative article!

Step 1: Prepare your Cuttings – How to take a cutting for propagation

To ensure the best chance of success, it’s essential that you cut healthy and young stems from the mother plant, and avoid using stems with visible signs of stress, disease, or discoloration. Next, use a sterile pair of sharp scissors or pruning shears: you can either wash your tools with warm soapy water or wipe them with alcohol.  Always remember that dirty tools transfer germs directly into the wounds and that can cause diseases and rot.

Choose a stem that is about 4-6 inches long, and cut directly beneath the stem joint, or beneath the point where a leaf or bud joins the stem. Remove the bottom leaves of the stem cutting because you are going to put that part (2-3 inches long) underground.

Step 2: Drying out Time

Before burying the cuttings into the soil to generate new succulents, place them onto a piece of paper towel and allow them to dry out in a shaded place with good airflow for a few days until the ‘callus’, a soft tissue that forms the cut leading to healing, is formed over the cut surface and the cutting is completely dried out and healed.

Step 3: Rooting Hormone Time (optional step)

When the cuttings are nice and dry, dip the ends into the rooting hormone (optional). Read more about this step by scrolling up this article in the leaf propagation section.

Step 4: Rooting Time

In order to plant successfully propagate your cuttings, they need to be rooted either in soil or water.

  • In Soil:  Once the stems have been calloused, fill a shallow tray with well-draining cactus or succulent soil and place the cuttings on top away from direct sunlight. Within a few weeks, pink roots will begin to grow from the base of the cuttings. Lightly mist the cuttings (usually 2-4 times per week) until the roots appear, then approximately once a week.
  • In Water: Once your cuttings are dry, it’s time to place them into a narrow-neck bottle filled with water and place it in a bright spot. Make sure the end of the cuttings is placed just above the water surface without being dipped in. After a few weeks, (at least 3), you’ll notice small roots sprouting off the stem, reaching for water. Replace the water once a week and leave the stem in the jug until it has developed strong roots.

Step 5: Transplanting Time

Once the stem has developed roots big enough (1-2 cm) to support a potted plant, it’s time to stick the bottom of the cutting into the dirt. I always recommend using well-draining potting soil and a terracotta or clay pot with drain holes to reduce the risk of overwatering and consequent roots rot. 

Terracotta or clay pots provide a healthy environment for most plants because the porosity of clay allows air and moisture to penetrate the sides of the pot.

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Once you have done that, make sure you place the succulent in a bright spot, but away from direct sunlight, indoors or outdoors. Water your cutting every 2-3 weeks or when the soil feels dry to the touch and you’ll notice your cuttings will start to grow new leaves within a few weeks. Read more about the watering schedule in this interesting article on how and when to water succulents.

Final Thoughts

Hope you enjoyed reading this article on How To Propagate Succulents and found it comprehensive and enlightening! If you like, feel free to leave a comment or share your knowledge on this topic in the section below.