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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.