How to Propagate Succulents: 4 Effective Methods

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Succulents are such easy plants to grow and more and more people have discovered the pleasure of growing succulents at home.

Succulent lovers are decorating their homes with them, keeping them on their desk at work, or filling beautifully landscaped rock gardens with a variety of different succulents. Most succulents grow outdoors quite successfully in areas that have a mild climate.

We’ll let you in on a little secret. Succulents are actually extremely easy to propagate as well. 

So, if you can’t get enough of them or your friends and family are envious of your collection, read on to discover how easy these plants are to propagate using one of the following methods.

#1. Division Or Using Offsets For Succulent Propagation

There are many different types of succulent varieties that readily produce offsets. These are tiny plants that start to grow from the base of the mother plant. Many rosette-forming plants produce offsets from the base.

In other species, the plantlets actually form along the stems. If left alone, some of these will naturally drop off into the soil and take root.

In this method, the main plant has already done all the work for you to produce a new plant.

Commonly, these offsets are referred to as “chicks”. That’s why some Echeverias have the common name of “hen and chicks”.

Using Offsets To Propagate New Plants

If you have succulents that readily produce offsets from the base of the mother plant, it’s just a case of gently digging these out along with their roots, severing them from the main plant if they’re still attached, and planting them into their own pot.

Ensure that you use the same quality succulent mix that you use for all your plants and let the mix dry out completely in between watering.

The succulents that can be propagated this way include:

  • Agave
  • Crassula
  • Echeverias
  • Faucaria
  • Gasterias
  • Haworthias
  • Lithops
  • Sedeverias
  • Sempervivums

Using Plantlets To Propagate More Plants

Some mature succulents will produce plantlets either along their stems or around the edges of their mature leaves. These need to be treated slightly differently to the offsets that already have roots attached.

Here’s our step by step succulent propagation using plantlets:

  • Carefully remove some of the plantlets from the parent plant.
  • Leave them in a warm, dry spot for a few days until you see a callus form at the point where the plantlet has been attached to the mother plant.
  • Fill some small pots or seedling trays with good quality succulent mix and moisten the mix.
  • Place the plantlets on top of the soil, making sure that the callous end is touching the mix.
  • Keep the soil moist until you start to see some new growth or the plantlets have started to grow roots.
  • Once this happens, you can move the plants to a sunny spot and treat them the same as the mother plant.

Common succulents that produce plantlets include:

Root Division

Dividing up large clumps of certain succulents can commonly be referred to as root division. What you’re actually doing is separating the plant into smaller sections, roots and all. This is very similar to removing the offsets that we’ve already discussed but this time, we’re going to be taking the entire plant out of the soil, whether it’s growing outside in the ground or in a pot.

Here are the simple steps for this process:

  • Use a sharp spade to dig the entire plant out of the ground or take the plant out of its pot.
  • Place the large clump onto a tarp on the ground or into a wheelbarrow.
  • Gently remove the soil from around the roots.
  • Cut the clump into smaller sections, making sure that each individual piece has its own roots and a growing point. Remember to work on your plants in the shade in order to avoid stressing them too much.
  • Once you have the entire clump separated, you can plant the individual sections into their own pot or back out into the garden.

When you use this method, you’ll find that the individual clumps you’ve planted will start to regrow many more new offsets to replace the ones that they’ve lost during the division.

Any succulent that produces offsets from the base can be propagated this way. These include:

  • Agave
  • Crassula
  • Echeverias
  • Faucaria
  • Gasterias
  • Haworthias
  • Lithops
  • Sedeverias
  • Sempervivums

#2. Leaf Or Stem Cuttings

This is one of the more common methods used for propagating succulents from leaves or stems and can be used for a large number of species.

The first step when you want to propagate succulents from leaves is to take succulent leaves and cuttings. For this, you’ll need a sharp knife or a good pair of secateurs. 

For leaf cuttings, choose a healthy, plump mother leaf that is not damaged. Cut this as close to the main stem as possible. You might want to take a few leaves to ensure a good success rate.

For stem cuttings, choose healthy sections of a stem that contains at least 2 sets of leaf nodes. Make the cut just below the bottom set of leaves and ensure that there’s another set of leaves above these. Once you’ve made the cut, remove the bottom leaves but leave the ones at the top.

Place your leaf or stem cuttings in a warm, dry spot for a few days until the cut ends have dried and a callous has started to form.

You can then choose to either root your cuttings in water or in potting soil. Some species are really easy to root in water, while others prefer to be rooted in soil mix. You could even conduct an experiment to see which method works best.

Most succulent species can be propagated from succulent leaf or stem cuttings.

Propagating In Water

Fill a small jar or bottle with a relatively narrow neck with water. Place the cut ends of the leaves or stems into the water. Ensure that the top half of the leaf or stem cuttings sit above the water level. 

If you find that the entire cuttings fall into the water, cover the jar or bottle with some plastic wrap and cut a slit in the plastic to support the cutting.

Put your multiple cuttings on a bright windowsill. Remember to change the water every few days, especially if it gets cloudy. 

After a number of days or even a few weeks, your cuttings should start to sprout roots and maybe even a baby succulent. Once the roots are developed enough or around an inch long, you can put your new plants into pots filled with a quality succulent mix.

Bear in mind that young succulents need a little more care than more mature ones. Give them a little water every couple of days so that the soil doesn’t dry out completely. 

Once they’ve doubled in size, you can start treating them the same as your other succulents.

Propagating In Soil

Fill a shallow seedling tray with some succulent mix. You might like to add a little perlite to this to assist in drainage. For entire leaf cuttings, you just need to place them on top of the mix or you can bury the cut end in the well drained soil a little. Either way should work but if the leaves sit on top of the soil, you’ll actually get to see the cuttings develop roots

With stem cuttings, it’s better to put the callused end of the stem into the soil immediately. You don’t need to plant it very deeply. Just deep enough that the stem sits upright. You can dip the calloused end into rooting hormone to speed up the process

The soil should be just moist at this stage but not wet. You can mist lightly if it gets too dry but avoid adding too much water until the cuttings have sprouted roots otherwise your cuttings may rot.

Once you start to see some root growth, just mist the roots with a spray bottle to keep them moist. Avoid getting water on the leaves at this stage. 

Keep your cuttings in a warm, bright spot out of direct sunlight. Once you start to see some healthy new growth, you can put each new plant into its own pot. Take care not to disturb the roots too much as you do this and make sure that the plants don’t receive too much moisture.

#3. Beheading

Certain species of succulents respond extremely well to this method of propagation. This method works exceptionally well for those succulents that produce rosettes on top of longish stems. The best time to behead your plants is in early spring.

All you have to do is cut off the top of the stem containing the rosette. It’s a good idea to cut the stem quite close to the base of the existing plant. 

Follow these instructions for the best results:

  • With a sharp pair of secateurs for pruning shears cut the stem, removing the crown. Try to make the cut as straight as possible.
  • Leave both the base and the “head” that you’ve cut off in a warm, dry spot so that they can form a callus for about a week.
  • Fill a new pot with some succulent mix and place the part of the plant that you’ve cut off the top into the mix. It’s fine to leave the base of the beheaded plant in its original pot or you might like to repot so that you can refresh the growing medium.
  • Place both pots in a shaded spot out of direct sunlight. Do not water your plants at this stage as this can promote rot.
  • It should take around 3 or so weeks for the top part of the plant to start producing roots. After this time, you can give it a gentle tug to check. If new roots have started to form, you’ll feel some resistance. 
  • Give both plants water once they’ve depleted their moisture reserves that are stored in the leaves. You can easily tell when this has happened because the leaves will start to look a little wrinkled. Once this happens, give each pot a good drenching, and then, don’t water again until the soil has become dry.
  • The base part of the plant should start to produce babies after about four to six weeks.
  • Once the top part has rooted and the base is showing signs of new growth, you can gradually expose the propagated succulents to more sunlight. But, do this in a gradual way so that the succulent leaves don’t get burned by being exposed to too much sun all at once.

Succulents that respond well to this method include:

#4. Sowing Seeds

Although growing a succulent from seeds isn’t the fastest way to increase your collection, it can be quite satisfying to see a thriving plant grow from a tiny seed. Plus, for rare succulents, you might be able to procure some seeds whereas live plants may not be readily available.

Here’s how to grow succulents from seeds:

  • Make sure you purchase quality seeds from a reputable source. 
  • Gather together a shallow seedling tray, some quality succulent mix, and a plant dome to cover the seedling tray.
  • Fill the seedling tray with the succulent mix leaving around 1 inch of space at the top.
  • Water the mix thoroughly and make sure that the excess water drains away completely.
  • Succulent seeds are incredibly small, so you’ll want to ensure that you’re sheltered from wind when you take them out of the pack for planting.
  • Carefully scatter the seeds evenly over the mix in the seedling tray. There’s no need to cover them with any additional mix. 
  • Now cover the tray with the plant dome. This will create enough humidity for good germination.
  • Place the tray in a warm spot in direct sunlight. If you don’t have a sunny spot, consider placing the tray under a grow light. 
  • Once you see the seeds germinating, you can remove the plant dome and place the tray in a bright spot that is out of direct sunlight because you don’t want to burn the tender young plants. 
  • Keep the soil moist by using a mister but make sure it’s not wet.
  • Once your seedlings have enough growth, you can transplant them into their own pots.

Essentially, almost all succulents can be grown from seed. The trick is having patience and finding a reliable source of seeds to start with.

Conclusion

There are numerous ways that you can propagate succulents. Most of these methods are relatively easy and you’ll find that most succulents propagate relatively well. This is good news if you want to increase your collection or want some cute little plants to give away to your family and friends.

Because many succulents thrive on neglect, they make excellent gifts for everyone, even those that don’t naturally have a green thumb. You can learn more about how to care for succulents indoors on our website.