How to Propagate Succulents
Propagating succulents is easy and relatively inexpensive. If you’ve ever wanted to create more plants from a single plant, then you will love propagating succulents!
What is propagation? Plant propagation is when you take a part of an existing plant to grow a new plant. This can’t be done with all plants, but only some. Many succulents can be propagated, but there are different methods depending on the type of succulent.
This is a good project if you want more plants, if you have a succulent that’s grown too tall (etoliated) or too big, or you have some leaves that have fallen off your succulents.
The Two Methods
Method 1: Leaves
Propagating with leaves is a fun thing to do! If done correctly, you will eventually see plant babies sprouting from the leaf. The leaf will shrivel and the plant babies will grow bigger. When the baby is big enough, you can remove the shriveled leaf and plant the baby up. The kinds of succulents that can propagate via leaves are soft sedums, echeverias, sedeverias, and graptoverias.
Method 2: Cuttings
Propagating with cuttings is best if you have a large succulent plant with many branches, like crassulas, aeoniums, sempervivums (aka hens and chicks), and hard sedums. With sempervivums (shown above), you can pull the chicks off instead of making cuttings.
You will need:
- Succulent plants or fallen succulent leaves
- Organic seed starting mix or cactus soil
- A container for your future plant babies (a plastic tub, Tupperware, clean yogurt container, or similar)
- A misting bottle filled with water
- If making cuttings, a pair of pruning snips
Prepare Your Propagation Area
Just like putting a crib together before a baby comes, we need to make a nice bed for the upcoming plant babies! Start off with a clean container. If you have a lot of succulents that you want to propagate or if you have a large/long plant that you want to propagate via cuttings, you can use a large plastic tub. If you only have a few leaves or one plant to propagate, a used yogurt container or a small Tupperware would work.
Fill your container with good soil. You can use a seed starting mix or an organic cactus soil. I wouldn’t suggest using a regular potting soil, as it can contain fungus gnats or mold. Neither of those are very fun to deal with!
Leave about an inch of space at the top, then level out the soil to make an even surface.
Propagate Your Succulents
Next is to start your succulent propagation!
If you are propagating with leaves, gently break the leaves off your succulent. You can do it by gently twisting up until it breaks off, or nudging the leaf left and right. Clean breaks are very important; ripping the leaf off will not produce a baby.
Once you have your leaves, place them on top of your soil bed.
If making cuttings, use a clean pair of snips to cut branches off your overgrown or etoliated succulent. If there are leaves at the very bottom of your cuttings, break the leaves off (to prevent rotting), and bury the cuttings’ stems into your prepared soil.
Let Callus, then Keep Moist. Place your soil bed somewhere out of the way so your leaves and/or cuttings won’t be disturbed. A little sun is okay, but don’t place it in bright sun! Bright sun will dry your leaves/cuttings out very quickly. Indirect light, dappled sunlight, or shade should be fine.
Let your leaves and cuttings sit for a few days to callus. Once they’ve dried up a bit, you can then mist them with your misting bottle every day to keep the soil and plants moist (but not wet!).
Wait for New Roots and Plants! After a while, new roots or leaves will appear on your propagating leaves. Your cuttings will eventually grow roots into the soil.
Keep misting, and your baby plants will grow bigger and bigger!
Once your original leaf has shriveled up or the baby has grown large enough, you can separate the baby from the mother and plant it on its own.
For cuttings, it’s perfectly normal for the cutting to wrinkle a bit. Once it grows roots, it can become stronger and put out new growth. It’s not always guaranteed that a cutting will root, and it will sometimes depend on your timing. Aeoniums, for example, are dormant during the summer so it will be more difficult for them to root during the summer season.
What are your most favorite succulents to propagate? Have you had any problems with succulent propagation? Let us know in the comments!
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