Succulent propagation is a simple and satisfying way to expand your succulent collection without shelling out on new plants.
It's fascinating how one single leaf can give rise to a whole new generation of plants. We think there is a lot of pleasure to be gained from observing the new growth. But don't just take our word for it, follow these simple steps to succulent propagation success.
Looking for a specific species? Why not support local, independent sellers in the process? Find succulent cuttings for sale on the Candide Marketplace.
Choose your succulent:
This article and easy to follow timeline are focused on the propagation of succulent leaves using the classic succulent species Crassula ovata
. Commonly known as Jade Plant
, this is one of the easiest succulents to propagate from leaves.
But first, it's important to note that some species propagate faster than others and a few succulents won’t propagate from leaves at all.
For example, species in the genus Aeonium are extremely difficult to propagate from leaves. It is possible, but fails more often than it succeeds, instead these are better propagated from stem cuttings
How to propagate succulents
1. Select a leaf
The first step is picking the right leaf. The plant you are using to propagate from should be healthy,
of a good size
and free from any pests or diseases.
To ensure your plant is in the best shape for propagating, read our guide to succulent care
Importantly, some species thrive in full, direct sunlight and others prefer bright, indirect light in partially shaded conditions. All prefer well-draining soil
with infrequent watering.
In our experience I've found larger leaves tend to be more successful, this is likely because they have more resources to sustain themselves when separated from the parent plant.
My parent jade plant
Start as you would with any plant propagation, using clean hands and equipment.
You may need a knife or some scissors, but generally succulent leaves can be harvested gently from the plant using just your hands, fingernails and a soft tug and twist action.
2. Remove a leaf!
Try to get a clean, straight wound.
You might end up with something like this, not to worry!
Simply pinch off the raggedy tip with a fingernail, knife or scissors to create a clean, straight wound:
Example of a raggedy cut into a clean, straight cut
3. Dry it out
Allow leaf to callus for 4-10 days. You can tell when the succulent leaf is calloused because the wound will have dried and sealed over.
Below you can see the callus is a darker ring of colour.
Left: semi-calloused wound. Right: fully calloused wound
4. Pot up:
Place your leaves on soil or in soil. Do not water as this could spread bacteria to your plantlets.
Read our guide to nailing succulent soil here
5. Wait patiently...
Over time your leaves should develop roots and new leaves:
Roots usually develop first
Sometimes the leaves develop first
Both are fine and completely normal!
Roots develop over time:
As the resources held in the parent leaf deplete, this encourages the plant to produce new roots to search out any tiny traces of moisture in the soil.
Watering at this stage will discourage them from developing strong healthy root systems as you are providing everything they need!
Wait a bit more...
You could bury the wounded edge in the soil to encourage the roots to grow downwards, but this isn't vital.
The best thing to do at this point is to try and forget about them!
A strong, healthy root system supporting multiple plantlets
Still do not water...
They will glean all the moisture and nutrition they require from their parent leaf.
Over time this parent leaf will gradually wrinkle as the new plant uses the resources held within it to sustain its growth.
Don't pull it off.
Eventually, the parent leaf will wither, become crunchy and drop away from the new little plant with no effort.
6. Water sparingly
Succulents have mostly evolved from arid desert locations and are adapted to survive long periods of time without water, so they don't need much!
Overwatering can lead to root rot
, which is one of the most common causes of succulent death.
To check the soil moisture, place a finger in the soil up to your knuckles. If the soil feels moist and sticks to your finger, it's probably best not to water yet.
Crisping leaf edge; this is when you want to think about starting to water
Bottom-watering is a great way to control your watering.
This simply involves submerging the bottom half of your pot in a container of water and letting it soak up into the pot for 5-10 minutes. Then let the pot fully drain.
Never let your succulents stand in water for prolonged periods of time.
7. To quickly create full pots from leaf propagation, place a few leaves of the same species into a single pot:
Four jade leaves potted together
Given enough time:
Whole new plant!
You should have happy and healthy new plants!
Note: Succulent cuttings are not always successful, sometimes, they shriven up and die - especially over the winter months when the light is greatly reduced. To give your succulents the best chance, propagate in spring or summer when the light is strongest.
We think the ones that succeed, more than make up for those little disappointments.
16 of the easiest succulents to propagate
You can browse more succulent plants here:
Find out about other ways you can produce new plants, including air layering and root and node cuttings here:
Expand your urban jungle with the help of local, independent sellers here