Turning succulents into more succulents for free might sound like some kind of mysterious magic trick, but it’s actually not. Like many other plants, succulents will regrow from just a small piece. This means you won’t need more than a stem top, offset, or even just a leaf to create a whole new succulent! If you ever wondered how to propagate succulents, you have come to the right place! We will show you how to propagate succulents from leaves, how to propagate succulents from stems, and many more!
How do succulents propagate?
We’ll walk you through all the steps below.
- Succulent soil & container/pot (we describe the best types of succulents in our article on succulent care);
- A sharp knife or pair of scissors (optional, preferably cleaned with alcohol);
- Rooting hormone (optional).
Tips for Growing Succulents
If you don’t have any existing succulents nor know people that can let you take some cuttings from theirs, don’t worry.
You can actually avoid buying potted succulents and save a good penny by buying unrooted succulent propagations and rooting them yourself using the instructions in this article.
A fantastic way to start your collection without breaking the bank!
Best Methods to Propagate Succulents
There are four basic ways to propagate succulents: leaf pullings, stem cuttings, offsets (pups), and growing from seed.
Not all methods can be used with all succulents. Which will be easiest depends entirely on the species of succulents in question.
A Gasteria or Haworthia, for example, won’t regrow from a single leaf. It will, however, produce plenty of offsets that can easily be removed and regrown!
We’ll mention some popular species suitable for each method, but if your succulence isn’t discussed here, the best advice is probably to try. After a while, you’ll develop a pretty good feel for what will work and what won’t. In case you have any more questions on how to propagate succulents of a certain type or variety, don’t hesitate to ask us via the comments section below!
1. How to propagate succulents from leaves
Rooting succulents from leaves is a fascinating process if you’ve never tried it before. In short, many species of succulents possess the ability to grow an entire new plant from just a single leaf. We exploit this for easy propagation by purposely removing leaves or replanting fallen leaves to create more succulents.
If you want to propagate your succulent from a leaf pulling, first locate a nice plump leaf on the plant. Take it between your fingers and gently twist (not pull!) it off. The leaf has to come off in its entirety: if it rips, it won’t take.
The photo below shows some good leaf pullings from a Pachyphytum (moonstone succulent) that were successfully propagated later.
Once you’ve obtained your leaves, put them away for a few days to leave them to dry. This allows the open “wound” where you pulled the leaf from the mother plant to callous over, preventing rot later on. The leaves itself won’t mind lying around for a few days, as they contain plenty of water and won’t dry out.
How to Achieve Successful Succulent Propagation in This Case
Once the time has come, prepare (a) pot(s) and simply lay the leaves on top of the soil. Dipping them in rooting hormone before is optional; as it can speed things up, but nature will do its job perfectly well by itself. Gently press the leaves into the soil a bit without burying them and place the pot(s) in a bright spot without direct sunlight. And now you wait, spraying the leaves daily to encourage sprouting.
The fact that the leaves aren’t buried allows you to see what’s going on. You’ll usually (but not always) see some bright pink or white roots sprout from the leaf first. After a while, generally less than a month, a teeny tiny copy of the mother plant starts to form.
Voilà! You now have a baby succulent.
Leave it attached to the leaf, which will dry out and fall off by itself eventually. Switch to regular watering once the roots have firmly settled into the soil.
2. How to propagate succulents from cuttings
Next on our guide on how to propagate succulents is a rather common-sense method: succulent propagation through cuttings. Let’s see what it is about!
As we said, another easy way to propagate succulents is to take cuttings: pieces of stem that contain more than one leaf. To take a stem cutting from a succulent, whip out your clean scissors or knife and behead the plant. Sounds harsh, but no worries: the mother plant will proceed by growing multiple new tops.
As with leaf pullings, your stem cutting needs to be left to dry for a few days to prevent rot later on. Once the wound has been calloused over, prepare a pot, and stick the cutting in there.
Again, you can dip the end in rooting hormone before to promote faster rooting, but it’s not necessary to do so for successful propagation. Place the pot in a light location that doesn’t get direct sun (fresh props are a little weaker than established succulents and don’t deal well with the sun’s harsh rays).
If you are interested, however, in some of the best rooting hormones on the market today, make sure you read our guide right here! Besides reviewing the top products, we also offer a quick guide on rooting hormones in general and their best uses.
How to Achieve Successful Succulent Propagation in This Case
Give the cutting a few sprays of water around its base every other day or so until it has firmly rooted. It’s a little harder to tell when this has happened because you can’t actually see the roots, but a surefire way to establish that cutting has rooted under the soil is when it starts sprouting new leaves.
If a few weeks have gone by and you’re not seeing anything happening, you can also give the cutting a gentle tug. If there’s any resistance, you’ll know that it has grown roots and is established.
Tip: Rooting succulents from cuttings work well for any species that have a stem. Crassula, rosette succulents, Sedum, Senecio… easy peasy!
3. How to propagate succulents from offsets
The easiest and fastest way for succulent propagation success is to obtain some offsets from a mother plant. These offsets are also known as pups, and many succulent species naturally spread by producing them. Your succulents will often be surrounded by tiny versions of themselves that have sprouted from the soil after a while of growing, especially if it’s healthy and doing well.
Succulent pups are generally not very tightly connected to the mother plant, making them easy to separate. The bonus is that they often already have their own root system, so with these, it’s just a case of separating, potting up, and almost guaranteed success.
If your succulent has grown offsets that you’d like to separate, the easiest way to do so is to wait until it’s time to re-pot (which probably won’t be long, since the plant’s babies will start crowding the pot eventually!). When everyone has been uprooted, you can snip the connection to the mother plant and pot up the babies separately.
How to Achieve Successful Succulent Propagation in This Case
If it’s not time to re-pot yet, but you still want to separate pups, an easy way to do so is to take a clean knife and carefully push it straight down between the mother plant and the pup. You’ll hear the connection snap and will then be able to remove the pup from the pot with some gentle twisting and tugging. The root system will likely take a hit, but it’s nothing the pup won’t be able to fix.
Once a pup has been potted up, continue watering it as you would any succulent: let the soil dry out fully and then flood it. No plant likes being moved, so prepare for some degree of shriveling and possibly some leaf drop. Nothing to worry about, as the succulent will most likely bounce back within a few weeks. Seeing new growth? As with stem cuttings, that’s a surefire sign of success.
Tip: Succulent propagation from offsets works well for species that don’t have a stem but instead sprout their leaves from a central point. This includes Agavas, Aloe, Sansevieria (pictured below), Gasteria, Haworthia, and more!
4. How to grow a succulent from seed
Growing a plant from seed can’t exactly be considered classic propagation as we’ve understood it in this article. But since it’s such a fun project, it’s worth a mention. You can obtain seeds from any succulents in your collection that have flowered and been pollinated, or you can try buying them online from a trustworthy source.
Whether or not it’s challenging to grow a succulent from seed depends on the species: some are very hardy, while others require specialized care. If you’d like to know more, you might want to have a look at the full article on how to grow a succulent from seed.
Succulent Propagation Timeline
One very important point to keep in mind when propagating succulents is that your timeline and success rate will vary depending on many factors. Here are some points you might want to keep in mind:
The process can be extremely slow
This especially applies to propagation attempts during wintertime. Additionally, some props just take way longer to establish themselves than others for no clear reason. We’ve had leaves sitting for months on end with no movement whatsoever and then suddenly sprouting a baby succulent in a week!
Unless you see rot or the cutting has dried out, you might as well leave it and see if it ever does anything. Speeding up succulent propagation can be done by providing a warm location, plenty of light, and possibly some rooting hormone boost. The plant hobby is not one for the impatient, though: sometimes you just have to wait.
Not all propagations will be successful
Even healthy-looking leaves and stems will sometimes wither for seemingly no reason. Don’t get discouraged, just review the care you provided and try again. If you have an issue with your succulent leaves falling off, do your homework well, try to understand the underlying causes, and make sure you discern among the symptoms correctly. Here are some questions to ask to help you get started on the right foot:
✔️ Did you leave the cutting to callous?
✔️ Were you using a gritty succulent soil?
✔️ Did you let the soil dry out entirely before spraying/watering again?
As mentioned before, new leaf growth can be considered a sign of propagation success for stem cuttings and offsets. Once a few leaves have appeared, you can slowly start acclimating the plant to more sunlight until it’s eventually ready to join the rest of your collection.
With leaf props, it can be a little more unclear whether the baby plant is ready to be treated as an adult succulent. They can grow quite slowly at first and it might take a few months for the propagation to start looking like a grown-up succulent. To be safe, you could consider 6 months unless you’re noticing lots of growth and/or legginess.
Before we depart, we have to answer a couple of important questions that succulent lovers ask all the time.
How to Propagate Succulents: FAQs
People hear about all sorts of succulent propagation methods that might or might not work. Some methods are the same, except for their name/label, so let’s clear a few confusing issues here!
How to Propagate Succulents in Water
Succulent propagation in water is a similar method as the succulent propagation from stems. You still need to obtain a stem cutting from the mother succulent and gently remove all the leaves from the stem. Next, you let the cuttings dry for a little while only to place them in a glass/bowl of water instead of a pot. You should wait for the stem to generate roots in the glass of water and only then pot the rooted cutting in a container. Some specialists say you should leave the glass of water in a bright spot to encourage root development from the stem, but such cuttings may be vulnerable to bright and powerful sunlight, so we advise moderation and care.
How to Propagate Succulents with Honey
It is the same idea of propagating succulents from stems, but instead of a rooting hormone, you use a mix of raw honey and boiled (cool) water. In other words, honey is simply an organic, natural substitute for a rooting hormone powder or gel. The reasoning behind this choice is simple: honey is a natural healer that even people use for its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
As you’ve hopefully concluded from the above, succulent propagation is super easy, fun and a great way to expand your collection. There is a way to propagate every succulent species and all you need is the best succulent pot, the best potting soil, and some patience. Some of you might also want some rooting hormones or a spoonful of raw, organic honey to boost root growth.
Have you tried propagating your succulents or taking cuttings from a friend or family member’s collection?
Don’t hesitate to comment below to share your experiences, tips and any questions about how to propagate succulents you might have.