When you want to increase your plant collection, succulents will make the job easy and cheap through a process called succulent propagation. Here is your guide to the different methods of propagating succulents aka growing your own succulents right at home!
Succulents are a hugely popular type of plant to grow for good reason: they thrive on neglect which makes them perfect for beginners to grow indoors! Plus, they come in some amazing shapes and colors which make them beautiful focal points in the house.
As more people have become familiar with succulents, their air-purifying benefits, and the simple beauty they portray, their popularity has only grown. Even with all those desirable qualities, perhaps my favorite thing about succulents is that they are incredibly easy to propagate!
Succulent propagation is an easy and cost-effective way to increase your succulent collection. If you aren’t familiar with propagation, it’s the process of growing a new plant from a part of an already existing plant.
Succulent Propagation: 3 Methods
When it comes to propagating succulents, there are three main methods. You can propagate succulents from:
- Leaf cuttings
- Stem cuttings
The process of propagating succulents is easier with some than others. However, anyone interested in gardening can learn the process. It’s well worth your time and can save you a fortune on buying new succulent plants!
Here’s a walkthrough of the different methods.
Succulent Propagation with Leaf Cuttings
This process is meant for succulents that have distinct leaves and stems, such as Sedum, Senecio, Echeveria, or Graptopetalum (sorry, aloe vera, this won’t work for you).
Growing new succulents from one of the plant’s leaves really couldn’t be easier!
Follow This Process:
- Get a clean break by grabbing the leaf you want to remove at its base (where it connects with the plant) and gently wiggle it from side to side. It should break off without any need to really pull. A clean break is essential for the leaf to grow roots.
- Once the leaf is separated from the main plant, both the leaf and the plant have an open wound, and they both need to basically form scabs (called a “callus” in the plant world). To do that, put the leaf in bright light (such as a windowsill) for about a week and simply avoid exposing both the plant or the leaf to water which could introduce bacteria.
- You can resume watering the mother plant once you see the callus over the area where you removed the leaf. Wait to water the leaf until you see roots appear.
- After the roots start to appear, simply put the leaf on dirt where you want the plant to grow (such as a flower pot filled with dirt but still in bright light) and keep the roots moist by misting them every 2-3 days. Don’t bury the roots; the leaf will take care of that on its own.
And, that’s it. No green thumb needed. The process feels like a real accomplishment for the gardener, even though the plant does all the work!
Note: Don’t be surprised when you see the leaf that you used shrivel up and fall off after a few months. It used all its nutrients and water to help grow a new plant!
Propagating Succulents with Stem Cuttings
Other types of plants may need a little coaxing to grow roots from cuttings by placing them in water. Succulents, on the other hand, famously don’t need the extra attention. Plus, this method is faster than the leaf-cutting method.
Essentially all you need to do is cut off part of the plant and stick that cutting into the dirt then let it grow.
Note: This method only works with plants that have defined stems. The same plants that can multiply through leaf propagation can also multiply through stem cuttings.
Follow This Process:
- Take a pair of sharp pruning shears and cut off a piece of the plant’s stem, just above a leaf. Do this where your new cut stem will be at least 4-5 inches long. You can either cut the top off your plant or make your cut on an offshoot. Just make sure your plant is healthy where you cut it or you’ll set yourself up for failure.
- If you couldn’t get a clean, perpendicular cut on the stem, now’s the time to clean up the piece you cut before proceeding.
- Place your cutting on a paper towel in bright light for about a week and let both the main plant and the stem cutting callus over. Don’t expose either to water until they are callused.
- Once the mother plant has callused, resume watering and normal care.
- After the stem cutting has callused, plant it in the dirt to the point where the leaves start so the roots can grow. Begin watering the new plant only after you see evidence that roots are growing.
It’s that simple!
Succulent Propagation by Using Offshoots
Some succulents produce offshoots (called “pups,” “offsets,” or “buds”) and multiply themselves without any effort from you. A well-known example of this is Sempervivum, which is commonly called Hens and Chicks for this very reason.
The pups usually grow out of the base of the main plant and share a connected root system, and you can use these offshoots to grow a new plant. Sansevieria, Haworthia, Cacti, and Aloe can all multiply this way.
Follow This Process:
- Wait to separate until the offset develops roots.
- Gently brush away any soil on top of the roots and carefully pull the offset apart from the mother plant to find where the pup connects to the parent plant. It’s often through a thick stem called a “runner.”
- Use a sharp pair of shears to make a clean cut at the spot where the offset meets the parent plant. If the two plants are connected by shared roots, delegate a generous portion of the roots to the new plant because the parent plant can make more.
- Sit the baby plant in an area with bright indirect light for a few days to let the roots dry out so they don’t rot when you plant them.
- Go ahead and plant the new plant in topsoil in a shallow hole. Fill in the hole, and begin lightly watering, gradually increasing as the roots take.
That’s it! Doesn’t sound too complicated, right?
Final Thoughts On Succulent Propagation
I hope you’ll give succulent propagation a try. I’m sure you’ll see just how easy, fun, and rewarding the process can be.
If you find you really enjoy it and end up with “too many” new plants (is that even possible?), those cute little baby succulents make an adorable gift idea!
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