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!
Wondering how succulent propagation works? We’ll walk you through all the steps below.
What You’ll Need for Propagation
If you’re looking to multiply some succulents, you’ll be surprised at how little you’ll need. Here’s what we use when we go around beheading plants and pulling leaves for propagation:
- Succulents (just in case you hadn’t realized)
- Succulent soil & container (we describe the best types in our article on succulent care)
- A sharp knife or pair of scissors (optional, preferably cleaned with alcohol)
- Rooting hormone (optional)
Note: 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!
Ways 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 and which will be easiest depends entirely on the species 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 succulent isn’t mentioned here the best advice is probably to just try. After a while, you’ll develop a pretty good feel for what will work and what won’t.
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.
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; 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.
Leaf pullings work well for: rosette succulents such as Echeveria and Pachyphytum, the ever-popular Crassula ovata (money tree), Kalanchoes and more.
2. How to propagate succulents from cuttings
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 calloused over, prepare a pot and simply 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).
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 a 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 establishing.
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 succulent will often be surrounded by tiny versions of itself 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 really 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 repot (which probably won’t be long, since the plant’s own babies will start crowding the pot eventually!). When everyone has been uprooted you can just snip the connection to the mother plant and pot up the babies separately.
If it’s not time to repot 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.
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 own collection that have flowered and been pollinated, or you can try buying them online from a trustworthy source.
Whether or not it’s difficult 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 for 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 rooting hormone. 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.
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.
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 a pot, soil, and some patience.
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.