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Expert Tips for Succulent Propagation

By Chris Jones
Share to PinterestExpert Tips for Succulent Propagation
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Succulents come in a huge variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and textures and are overall pretty low-maintenance plants. They are also one of the easiest types of plants to propagate. While you can, of course, start succulents from seeds, it’s often much quicker and certainly cheaper to produce new plants from the ones you already. There are two easy methods for propagating succulents: using leaves or using cuttings. Which one you choose depends both on the species of succulent you plan to propagate and your preferences. Some varieties, such as Sedums and Echeverias, can be propagated from both leaves and stem cuttings, while others, like Aeoniums, can only be propagated from cuttings.

01

Using a leaf

When propagating from a leaf, you can use one that has already fallen from your plant, as long as it is still fresh. Alternatively, you can remove one from the plant one by carefully twisting it off. Ensure that you remove it right down to the stem of the plant. Try not to tear or otherwise damage the leaf as you're doing this. Another option is to purchase a leaf that has already been removed and prepared for propagation.

Share to PinterestYou can propagate many types of succulent just from their leaves.
Akarawut Lohacharoenvanich / Getty Images

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02

Using a cutting

Share to Pinterestpropagation succulent cuttings

If you prefer to take a cutting, you will need some sharp scissors, a knife, or pruning shears. Sterilize them first so you are not introducing bacteria that could cause disease. You can either cut from the top of the plant or remove an offshoot. If cutting from the stem, take a section just above one of the leaves. Make sure that the piece you take is healthy and at least two inches long — four inches is better, if possible.

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03

Preparing for propagation

Once you have removed the leaves or cuttings, place them on a paper towel to dry. Depending on the amount of heat and sunlight, you will need to leave them out for between one and five days, until a callous has formed over the cut end. Putting them to dry in this way helps to prevent them from absorbing too much water and drowning or rotting during propagation. The leaves may start to wither, which is another sign you can move on to the next stage.

Share to PinterestSet the leaves and cuttings aside to dry out for a few days.
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04

Propagating in soil

When the leaves or cuttings are ready, prepare a new planter with slightly damp soil. With the leaf, you simply need to place it down on top of the soil. With the cutting, it's generally better to plant it. Place the planter in a warm spot with plenty of bright light, and when the soil becomes dry, use a spray bottle to mist it. You will likely need to do this two or three times a week as your new plants start to grow.

Share to PinterestArrange the leaves on top of the soil.
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05

Propagating in water

You may prefer to propagate your succulent in water, in which case you will need an old glass, jar, or small bottle. Place the cutting or leaf with the callous submerged in around half an inch of water and put the container in a warm, bright place with fresh airflow. You will need to keep the plant section upright using an elastic lattice or similar and replace the water every week.

Share to PinterestThe roots need to be well established before you consider planting.
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06

Waiting for results

After around two or three weeks, you should start to notice new roots and leaves. The exact amount of time will depend on the time of year, the temperature, and various other factors. The roots will look like tiny pink strands emerging from the cut section of the plant. With leaves, you will know that it’s time for repotting when the original leaf has turned brown and fallen away. The new succulent has taken all necessary nutrients from the leaf and no longer needs it.

Share to PinterestThe leaves will grow tiny new plants and then wither and break away.
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07

Success rate

Keep in mind that despite this being a relatively straightforward process, not every leaf or cutting will successfully propagate. Some may just wither and die. It's always a good idea to use a selection of leaves, cuttings, or even both to ensure that something grows. You might also want to vary the methods slightly to find the one that best suits your specific type of succulent.

Share to PinterestIt's good to use more than one leaf or cutting to guarantee success.
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08

Where to plant succulents

Succulents thrive both indoors and outdoors when in temperate climates. They generally enjoy a good amount of sun and just a little water. If planting in a container, ensure that both it and the soil have good drainage and that there is sufficient space for the roots to grow. Whether inside or outdoors, place the plant in a warm and sunny location, avoiding too much direct sunlight. For more information on this, refer to your specific plant's care instructions.

Share to PinterestThe window sill is an excellent place to keep indoor succulents.
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09

Watering and feeding

Once you have transferred your propagated succulent to its own pot, give it a thorough watering. This allows the roots to wriggle through the soil and adjust to the new container. Ensure you drain and remove the excess water, though. After this, you will only need to water your succulent every now and then (again, refer to species-specific information). In the spring or summer, fertilize the plant with succulent or cactus-specific fertilizer to promote growth.

Share to PinterestSucculents need to be well watered when first repotted.
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10

The easiest succulents to propagate

Many succulents propagate with little to no help at all. Kalanchoe, known as the mother of thousands, produces baby plants all along its leaves. When they are ready to grow on their own, they drop from the leaves, and you can switch them over to their own pot. Likewise, the Burro's tail self-propagates when it's leaves fall off. Sempervivum, or hens and chicks, grows "pups" from its base in the spring. Once these produce roots, they can be separated out from the mother plant. Aloe vera creates baby plants alongside itself, which after a time, can be removed and repotted.

Share to PinterestThe mother of thousands succulent grows little plants around the edges of its leaves.
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11

Importance of choosing a healthy mother plant

Share to Pinterestsucculent

Starting with a robust mother plant is the cornerstone of successful propagation. A plant that's thriving, free from pests, and well-hydrated sets the stage for the offspring to inherit the same vigor and vitality. Think of it as laying a strong foundation; the healthier the mother plant, the higher the chances of the cuttings or leaves taking root and flourishing. It's a simple yet often overlooked step that can make a significant difference in the propagation journey.

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12

Dry (air) propagation technique

Share to Pinterestpropoagation

While soil and water are common mediums for propagation, there's another method worth exploring: air-drying. In this technique, succulent cuttings are left to callus in open air, forming a protective barrier. This callusing process, which usually takes a few days, is vital as it prevents potential rot when the cutting is eventually planted. It's a testament to the adaptability of succulents, showcasing their resilience and ability to thrive in diverse conditions. For those looking for an alternative to traditional methods, air-drying offers a unique approach.

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13

Detailed guide on propagation through offsets

Share to Pinterestpropagation

Nature has its way of multiplying beauty. Offsets, often referred to as "pups," are miniature versions of succulents that emerge from the base of a parent plant. These little wonders are nature's gift, ready to be separated and grown independently. To propagate using offsets, gently twist to detach them from the mother plant, let them dry briefly, and then plant in a suitable mix. It's a seamless process, mirroring nature's cycle of growth and renewal, and offers an easy way to expand your succulent collection.

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14

Best seasons (spring or summer) for propagation

Share to Pinterestsucculent small propagation

Timing can be everything, especially in the world of plant propagation. While succulents are known for their hardiness, they have a distinct preference when it comes to propagation: the warmer months. Spring and summer, characterized by longer days and abundant light, provide the optimal conditions for new growth. The increased light and warmth during these seasons energize the plants, making it an ideal time to propagate. So, if you're planning to expand your succulent family, mark your calendar for these sunny months.

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15

Troubleshooting: What to do if succulent cuttings are not rooting

Share to Pinterestsucculents

Propagation is as much an art as it is a science, and sometimes, despite our best efforts, cuttings may not root as expected. But don't be disheartened. Ensure the cuttings are placed in indirect light, shielded from harsh sun rays. The soil should be well-draining, and it's crucial not to overwater. Remember, succulents thrive in conditions that mimic their natural habitat, so less is often more. If you've ticked all the boxes and still face challenges, give it time. Nature has its rhythm, and patience often yields the most beautiful results.

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16

Dealing with leggy succulents

Share to Pinterestecheveria blue atoll. A succulent plant with widely spread leggy leaves and stem indicate it is stretching for light. Closeup side view on

When your beloved succulents start to look more like lanky vines than plump leaves, it’s a sign they’re craving more sunlight. To give these stretched-out plants a new lease on life, consider propagating the healthy parts. Gently remove the leggy sections, allow the cut ends to callous over, and then plant them in fresh soil. This method not only revives your succulent but also multiplies your collection.

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17

Propagation from offsets

Share to PinterestBabies grow on mother plant. Hen and Chicks succulent with offsets or pups growing under the healthy mature plant. Closeup on the offshoots of plant in pot and outdoor background.

Nature’s way of cloning offsets are the baby succulents that grow at the base of the parent plant. These little pups can be gently twisted away and planted on their own once they have a few roots. It’s like giving them their independence with a gentle push out of the nest. Ensure they are planted in well-draining soil and watch as they grow into replicas of their parent.

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18

Ideal conditions for propagation callusing

Share to PinterestSucculent leaf propagation with roots

Before those freshly cut succulent leaves or stems can embark on their rooting journey, they need a bit of a timeout. Place them in a dry, warm location out of direct sunlight for a few days to allow the cut ends to form a protective callus. This step is crucial for preventing rot and ensuring a healthy start for your new plants. Think of it as their moment in the sun, without the actual sun.

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19

Rooting hormone's role in succulent propagation

Share to PinterestJade tree, Reproduce jade tree by cutting. Root jade tree. Small potted jade tree

While not a necessity, rooting hormone can be the secret ingredient for those succulents that seem hesitant to sprout roots. Dipping the cut end of your leaf or stem into a rooting hormone before planting can stimulate faster growth and increase the success rate. However, remember, succulents are survivors by nature, and many will thrive with or without this extra boost.

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20

Transitioning succulents to outdoor environments

Share to Pinterest Close up view of person repotting a variegated aloe plant. Hands gardening with flower pots and succulents outside on patio. Houseplants getting fresh soil and a new planter.

Once your propagated succulents have established themselves, they might yearn for the great outdoors. Transition them slowly to prevent shock, starting with a few hours of morning sunlight each day. Gradually increase their outdoor time over a few weeks, always being mindful of extreme temperatures or intense midday sun. It’s a gradual process of acclimatization to ensure they thrive in their new setting.

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