Propagating Succulents From Leaves and Cuttings [Step-by-Step Guide]

You might have a whole horde of succulents, or you’re just getting started on your collection. Propagating succulents at home can be done in a couple of ways, and is surprisingly simple once you know the basics.

Quite often, succulents are given a rep for being both easy and also impossible to keep alive. They just require knowledge and the right climate, and once they’re established and have the right routine and amount of light, they are simple and beautiful little plants for your home or garden.

Below, I’ll guide you through how to propagate succulents and start your own collection (or add to) of our favorite little house plant. It is a lot easier than you might expect.

propagating succulents

4 Tips On Propagating Succulents

While each method will require subtle adjustments to help the succulent leaf or clipping take root and stay healthy, there are things you need to consider before propagating for the first time.

1. Allow Leaves and Cuttings to Rest Before Propagation

This is probably the MOST important step when propagating a succulent.

When you remove a leaf or take a cutting, the end of the leaf and stem will be open and raw. Think of this a little as an open wound. If you place this open wound in water or dirt, it will absorb things far too fast.

There could be too much water or fungi in the soil, causing it to die or rot away.

Allow your cutting or leaf to rest for 2-6 days. This gives it time to build up a scab over the “wound” and greatly increases the chances of it sprouting roots and staying healthy. Don’t worry if it starts to fade or shrivel; once you place it in the water or soil, it will perk back up.

Having that callus allows the little succulent to proceed at a safe pace of growth and absorption.

allowing leaves to callus
Allowing the leaves and cuttings to callus over before propagating is crucial to prevent rot.

2. Your Climate

Understanding your climate is just as important as learning how to start the roots. This will allow you to choose your propagation method and get the most out of your succulents. Different species need varying levels of humidity.

Based on where you live, there will be different humidity levels, which can affect the way a succulent grows at any stage of life. You will need to do research on where you live to check the climate and see how well a succulent will thrive.

Succulents tend to grow best in warmer, humid climates. Propagation tends to work better in the summer months when these criteria are met in more places.

3. Succulent Type

The type of succulents you choose to propagate will ultimately influence the success rate of your succulents.

Different species are better for propagation than others. Some require a lot more intensive care and stricter climates to grow. Many types of succulents will start to propagate simply by falling off the mother plant and landing in the right conditions.

Some of the easiest types of succulents to propagate at home are echeveria, graptoveria, and sedums.

Propagation can be attempted with most commonly sold succulents, but it’s not always successful. Find a type of succulent you will enjoy having multiple of and research its specific needs.

You may already have a beloved plant you want to grow babies from!

4. Sunlight and Space

When choosing to propagate succulents, ensure that you have adequate space and light for them to germinate and get the nutrients they need. Many times, these delicate leaves don’t need direct sunlight but need enough light to survive.

The process usually takes between 2-6 weeks for roots to appear from propagation. So having the right space is important. They will be living there for a while, and they need to work for their needs.

Windowsills and flat surfaces near sunlight like a table or shelf are great places to let them rest and grow without being disturbed by everyday life.

Taking Cuttings from Succulents

A cutting is taken from an already existing succulent. This might be because it got too leggy or even grew too big for its vessel.

  • Take clean and sharp scissors or pruning shears and cut above a leaf from the top of the plant, or offshoot.
  • Make sure there are several leaves remaining on the stem.
  • Allow cuttings to rest for a couple of days until the end of the stem has dried.
taking succulent cuttings

Propagating cuttings often takes less time to flourish since there is already an established stem and leaves. A couple of months usually gives a cutting enough time to gather roots and become its own plant. This all depends on the species and how the propagation method worked.

Taking Leaves from Succulents

Often, leaves fall right off from moving or daily care, and you can place them in dirt or water and watch them grow. But if you are looking to remove leaves from a plant for propagation, here’s how to do it.

  • Select a healthy, bottom leaf from the succulent.
  • Twist it gently and make sure it detaches all the way to the stem.
  • Let the leaf rest for a few days until the callus has formed.
taking succulent leaves

When you propagate from a leaf, you are creating a whole new plant. Which I think is pretty cool, and with this method, you have a lot more chances of success. It can take up to a few months, depending on the type, for a new plant to fully form, so be patient!

Propagating Succulents in Water

Propagating using water can be a controversial way to go about propagation since there can be high rates of root rot from taking on too much water. Or, simply, the cutting or leaf is too submerged in the container. I leave this up to experience, preference, and type of succulent being propagated.

Some claim this to be the best way to propagate. Others say the opposite. Trying a new method requires trial and error and patience. Take your time and get the right environment going, and you should see some little roots through the glass.

Cuttings

When preparing a cutting for water propagation, make sure there is a length of the stem that can be close to or barely touching the water. Submerging the entire cutting can lead to over-absorption and rotting, which will dirty the water and lower any other cutting’s chance of survival.

Container

Pick out what you want the succulent to propagate in and make sure it won’t be too deep and easy for the clipping to fall into if bumped. Glass containers allow you to see any growth that happens along the way.

You can use any method that secures and lifts the cutting to the right height (just touching the water), but a popular way is to use cling wrap around the top of the container.

Poke holes in the cling wrap just big enough to fit the stem through and let it rest there. The edge of the container will help keep it stable.

propagating succulents in water

This lets you see through at all angles and remove the cling wrap to change the water as needed. Only change the water if it is getting very cloudy, and add more when it’s too low. Place it somewhere there is a lot of sunlight, but not directly.

Leaves

Propagating leaves with water is similar to cuttings, but the size is usually much smaller. Like I’ve said, make sure you have a healthy leaf with a callus formed over the end where it was removed from the mother plant.

Choose a shallow container and cover it with plastic wrap, and cut the appropriate size holes for the leaves to rest and NOT touch the water. The leaves will rot easier than a stem will, so you really need to make sure it won’t soak too long.

Keep the water clean and wait for the roots to start growing.

propagating succulent leaves in water

You can also place a large number of leaves out on a plate covered with a paper towel and mist it daily. Keep an eye out for any signs of rot, and change the paper towel if it gets too dirty. Be careful handling the leaves and their new tiny roots.

Potting

Roots formed in water are very delicate and won’t be ready to take to the soil immediately. Before you plant, make sure your cutting or leaf has at LEAST an inch of root length. Allow the roots to dry for a day or two before you pot them, and be careful throughout the entire process.

leaf propagation succulent roots

Propagating Succulents in Soil

Propagating succulents in soil can have less propagation success, but once they take root, they can be healthy and strong-rooted plants. If you already have succulents, you will likely have some extra soil and can find containers for this process.

New plants require more water, so you will need to mist the baby plants on a weekly basis and ensure their soil doesn’t stay dry for too long. Once they have a strong root and are planted in a different pot, slow down on the watering.

Cuttings

Prepare a cutting like we’ve discussed in the above sections and carefully plant the tip in the appropriate soil. Since it’s a new plant, it will take a different soil than it will as a grown plant. Make sure to spray the soil once it dries. Succulents are prone to over-watering, so you want to be considerate and not water it too much.

propagating succulent cuttings in the soil

This is essentially repotting a section of a plant and giving it some TLC. You don’t have to wait for an entirely new plant to form.

Leaves

Propagating leaves in soil happens naturally, most of the time. Especially if the succulents are outside during the summer months, these babies will spring up around the mother plant.

Make sure you’ve let the leaves sit for a few days and the callus forms. 

Take any pot or container and fill it with soil. Lay out the leaves on top of it. You don’t need to bury the tips. The roots will find their way into the soil on their own. It raises the chance of the leaves rotting rather than rooting if they’re buried.

fill soil in propagation container
lay succulent leaves on soil

Spray these leaves when the soil on top dries, and make sure they’re somewhere bright but out of direct sunlight.

You will probably see the first roots in 2-3 weeks.

Potting

Since they are used to soil, these propagated succulents simply need a gentle transplant to a new pot with the appropriate soil. Look for coarse soil that drains well, like succulent soil for these new little plants.

The starter leaf might be shriveled up and gone by this point. If it isn’t, use your best judgment to see if it’s safe for the new succulent to remove the leaf before repotting.

potting propagated succulents

Once planted, you can decide on their watering schedule based on climate and type. If you already have the mother plant, try to keep her babies in the same way.

Where to Get Succulents

Large stores like Lowe’s, Home Depot, or even Walmart will have a variety of succulents for sale. You can find succulents for sale online, which is a great way to pick out and research before you get your new plants.

Local nurseries are also a great option, so you can support local businesses and also speak to the people who probably started these plants themselves.

You can also ask an employee if it’s okay if you take already dropped leaves from succulents in the store. I try to avoid doing this at local places and stick to a big-name brand store where those leaves will rot and be swept away.

Other Interesting Ways To Propagate Succulents

Final Thoughts

Cultivating your own succulents takes patience above all else. Some leaves and cuttings simply won’t survive. Others will flourish quickly. Take your time and enjoy the process of learning and seeing which types of succulents grow best for you.

Before you know it, you could have your own little succulent farm. Baby succulents make great gifts to loved ones and to people wanting to start their own collection.

If you liked this article, check out these other propagating articles:
Growing Agave from Seeds
Growing Succulents from Seeds Indoors
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How to Propagate Hens and Chicks
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