How to Separate Succulents [A Step-by-Step Guide]

Succulents comprise a broad variety of species from several plant families. Typically used as container or landscaping plants, succulents are xerophytes, which are characterized by their ability to store water in their fleshy stems, leaves and roots. Succulents can grow as branching tree-like or bush-like plants, they can make clusters or form clumps.

Typically, branching succulent varieties are propagated by rooting their leaves or stem cuttings. However, succulents that produce young plant clusters, which are known as offsets that appear at the base of the parent plant or form clusters are best for splitting or dividing. In this article, we’ll discuss in detail how to separate succulents.

how to separate succulents

Can You Break Off a Succulent and Replant?

Yes, it is possible to break off a succulent and replant it. You may notice offsets or plantlets that have sprung up around the mother plant or the “hen.” The offsets of plantlets are known as “chicks” or “pups”, which are produced by the stems which are underground near the surface.

These offsets or pups are essentially fully formed mini-plants with roots and are clones of the mother plant, which can now grow into new plants on their own. You can dig up the entire succulent and tear the roots apart gently. Then the clumps that have been separated can be planted individually.

It is a good idea to plant the succulents that have been divided by separating the roots by placing them in the soil immediately. You can then water the plants sparingly after a day. If you want to plant the succulents outdoors in your garden, then choose a spot that does not have direct, overhead sun.

Ensure that the soil is crumbly and make a mound and then create a shallow depression to accommodate the shallow roots of the plant. Place the succulents carefully in this depression and cover the roots with some soil and secure it by tamping the soil gently. After a day, water the soil around the succulents gently.

Should Succulents Be Separated?

If you want a succulent garden and don’t want to spend a lot of money, then you can cost-effectively do this by separating or splitting your succulent plants. The best time to divide your succulents is when they have overgrown their containers or have grown a lot of offsets or babies.

It is often a lot easier to divide the succulent plants rather than repotting a large, multi-stemmed plant. Dividing the succulent lets each of the repotted parts grow and fill a new container. Typically, succulents grow very quickly when you separate them during their growing season.

The growing season for each succulent variety differs and you must check this out before going ahead and dividing the plants. For instance, succulents like aeoniums grow in the winter months, while other species have their growing months during summer or spring.

Nevertheless, it is possible to separate and repot succulents any time of the year. So, it is a good idea to do it on a nice day, where you can do it outdoors. It is best to separate the succulents that have sprouted new foliage or have grown offsets and it is recommended that you don’t split a single succulent.

How to Separate Succulents – Instructions

  1. Before you start separating the succulents, water the soil to soften it. This enables you to separate the baby plants from the mother plant easily.
  2. Then take a sharp knife (or scissors), wash it with soapy water and then dip it into some alcohol or 10% bleach mixture to sterilize it before separation or repotting. Then, wash the knife with clean water and allow it to dry.
  3. Protect your fingers and hands from the spiny succulents by wearing thick gloves. Remove the plant from the container by loosening the soil on the sides of the pot. If required, turn the pot upside down and gently ease the plant out of the pot. Avoid grabbing the plant, instead tilt the pot to the side and gently pull the plant out.
  4. Remove the soil from the plant and tease out the roots gently.
  5. With a sharp knife, cut off the stem that connects the parent succulent and the offset. Try to get the offset from the soil without damaging its roots. This makes the process of transplanting most successful.
  1. Use a tray lined with paper towels to place the offsets and set them in a warm place that has shade, away from the direct sunlight.
  2. Allow the offsets to dry for 2-3 days so that a callus is formed over the area where the stem has been cut. By forming a barrier, the callus helps to protect the offset from any diseases. The young plant is ready for planting once the callus is formed.
  3. Place the offsets in a new pot and add fresh soil that drains well. Ensure that the plant reaches the top of the plant and if this does not happen, add soil at the bottom to increase the plant level.
  4. Wait for 1 to 2 weeks and then water your new plants. This enables the roots of the new plants to heal before they can absorb the water.

Propagating succulents is a great activity that you are sure to enjoy, especially when you see a garden full of burgeoning and thriving plants. Dividing or separating succulents is one of the ways by which you can propagate the plants. So, why wait? Get started and watch your succulent garden grow.