Succulents have fast become some of my favourite plants to grow. They are simple to propagate and come in a huge range of interesting shapes and colours.
Read more about succulents here:
It's fascinating how one single leaf can give rise to a whole new generation of plants. I think there is a lot of pleasure to be gained from observing the new growth.
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.
Choose your succulent:
This article is focused on the propagation of succulent leaves using the classic succulent species Crassula ovata.
Commonly known as jade plant, this is one of the simplest succulent species to propagate from leaves.
The plant you are using to propagate from should be healthy, of a good size and free from any pests or diseases.
In my 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.
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Remove a leaf!
Try to get 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
Dry it out:
Allow leaf to callus for 4-10 days, until the wound has dried and sealed over. You can see the callus is a darker ring of colour:
Left: semi-calloused wound. Right: fully calloused wound
Place your leaves on soil or in soil. Do not water!
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.
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, leading to root rot 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.
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: It's not always successful, especially over the winter months when the light is greatly reduced. Sometimes they just shrivel up and die!
But I think the ones that succeed, more than make up for those little disappointments.
If you’re feeling inspired to have a go, I’d love to see your succulents!
Please use the hashtags #Propagation #Succulents and feel free to tag me:
Here are some succulents that take well to leaf propagation:
You can browse more succulent plants here:
First published in March 2019