How to Propagate Succulents: The Complete Guide

Succulent plants are a type of plant that is characterized by being able to accumulate large amounts of water, either in its leaves or stem. 

Succulent plants are not only pretty, different and elegant plants, but also it is up to you to have many succulents of the same species, without much effort.

There are several ways to propagate succulents.

In this occasion, I will teach you how to propagate your succulents by cuttings, shoots and seeds. 

This is very easy, so you should not feel fear when you want to propagate your succulents.

You just have to choose the one that suits you best and follow the steps and recommendations I gave you. To spread succulents!

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How to propagate succulents by cuttings?

First Step

The first thing you should do is select the plant or plants you want to propagate.

Once this is done, before starting the propagation process you must wait for the plant’s growth time.

Much of the succulents grow in seasons from spring to summer, but other species grow in winter.

That’s why you must investigate the growing season of your succulent. 

Although you can propagate your succulent any time of the year, it is more advisable to do it in the growing season, so that the propagation is more effective.

Second Step

Once you have selected your plant and the growing season has arrived, it is time to remove the cuttings from the plant. 

You can do this step in two ways; The first is using the shoots that were growing around the mother plant. 

Choose the more mature shoot, and remove it from the plant with great care not to spoil the mother plant or the roots of the new shoot.

The second way is by removing a leaf from the plant. 

Sterilize a knife or scissors with isopropyl alcohol or by putting the knife directly into the fire for a minute.

It is very important that the tool you use allows you to make a clean cut and that it is sterilized to prevent infections in the plant. 

You can also drag the leaf with your hands, but it must be of a clean pull, the leaf must be complete.

Third Step

Decide if you want to remove a leaf or part of the stem and leaves of the mother plant.

The beauty of propagating succulents is that with a simple leaf you can do it, but there are succulents such as aeonium, which spread better with part of the stem.

The selection of the cutting can be; a leaf, part of the stem with leaves or a new bud. 

Whatever your option, you have to do it carefully, you must make the cuts clean, especially the one on the blade, you have to make sure the blade is complete. 

And the leaves should be cut from the part that is attached to the stem.

At the time of the cuts, make sure not to mistreat the mother plant, and not to damage the roots of the extracted sapling.

Fourth Step

If you decided to remove part of the stem from the plant, you must leave 5 cm to 10 cm from the bottom of the stem, you just have to remove the leaves that are at the bottom, and so that part of the stem will be free ( do not remove the rest of the sheets).

Then, having removed the leaves from the bottom, it is time to put the cuttings on absorbent paper and place it in a place where it receives sunlight but is not direct. 

You must let the stem rest a couple of days before planting it in its new pot.

By letting the steam dry for a couple of days, this makes it less susceptible to rot.

Optional

You can immerse the lower part of the stem, in a rooting hormone, which, as the name implies, is a substance that will help accelerate the process of producing new roots. 

This process is more advisable when the cuttings are decomposing or in case of an older “woody” stem. 

If your plant does not precede any of these characteristics, this hormone is not so necessary.

Fifth Step

If you decided to spread your succulent through the leaf, the first thing you should do once the leaf is cut is to put it on a previously moistened absorbent paper, after that place them in a place where they receive some sunlight (but not direct ).

You should let the leaves rest for a few days until the end that was attached to the stem becomes “calloused.” 

The time it takes for the leaf to become callous can take 2 days to 7 days. 

If at that time you begin to notice that your leaves begin to wilt, plant them immediately, since if the leaves die it will be almost impossible to spread.

Sixth Step

For the rest of your cutting, it is time to prepare the substrate where they will be sown.

Get a substrate that is suitable for succulents and cacti.

It must be a substrate that has good drainage and is not too compact.

If you wish you can also make your substrate mix, just mix 3 parts of potting soil, 2 parts of fine sand and one part of perlite. 

Another important point to consider is the pot where you are going to sow your cuttings.

The pot cannot be too large. 

The ideal pot is those that have approximately 2 to 5 cm of cultivation space since this space will be sufficient during the cutting start stage. 

Also, the pot must have the drain hole, which is the bottom of the pot. 

This hole is important, as it will help the substrate to remove excess water and prevent root rot due to excess water.

Seventh Step

Now is the time to sow our cuttings.

If you chose the stem option, sow the cuttings in the center of the pot, and introducer until the leaves are a few millimeters above the substrate (the leaves should not touch the ground), because if you bury them together with the stem, the leaves will rot

At the time of irrigation, you should only moisten the substrate and do it a few times a week.

 You don’t need to water the plant more since succulents do not require so much irrigation.

When the plant is already grown, it is important that you reduce the frequency of irrigation, and do it only when the substrate is completely dry, and when the plant is ripe you can add a little more water at the time of irrigation.

If you notice that your plate is wilting, don’t worry, this is normal. 

The wilting is due to the fact that the plant is using its stored energy to form new roots. 

If the propagation process is going well, you will begin to detect new growth in approximately 4 weeks after sowing the cuttings.

Eighth Step

If the spread is by leaves, place the cuttings above the previously moistened substrate. 

Be careful when watering the leaves, to prevent them from rotting. 

When watering, dampen the substrate with an atomizer, but once the cuttings begin to grow, do not use the atomizer anymore, and water directly with the hose.

Ninth Step

After sowing the cuttings, place the plant in a warm and ventilated place.

The young succulents do not support direct sunlight, since they do not have the water supply, unlike adult plants. 

Cuttings are best developed with indirect sunlight, at a temperature of approximately 20 ° C (68 ° F) and places with good airflow.

Tenth Step

Succulents are slow-growing plants and are not adapted to grow in soils with high nutrient content. 

That is why it is good to use a balanced fertilizer, during the growing season, and only once the young plant is at least four weeks old and with established roots.

It would be good to use ½ to ¼ of the recommended dose of fertilizer to prevent the plant from becoming too high, with little foliage, or that the root system burns.

Tips:

  • Use the healthiest leaves of the plant.
  • Avoid watering the cuttings to avoid rotting.
  • Do not put the pots in the direct sun. When the plant is ripe, you can put it directly in the sun.
  • Avoid putting the cuttings in a large pot, as the substrate will take longer to dry, which can cause rotting of the cuttings.
  • Do not use a universal substrate, for garden or pot.
  • Spread your succulents in their growing season, so that the spread is more effective.

How to propagate succulents by shoots?

Succulents are a wonder of nature

There are types of succulents, to which sprouts grow (little children), which facilitates their propagation. 

To propagate your succulents through sprouts, just follow these steps:

1. Look at the plant shoots that are large enough so that they can become independent from the mother plant.

2. Remove the sprouts with sharp and disinfected garden shears. In some cases, the child will come off turning it gently. You must be careful not to damage the roots.

3. Sow the shoots in the substrate for cacti and succulents. You can make your substrate mix using three parts of the gardening substrate, two parts of sand and one part of perlite.

4. Water your sprouts with an atomizer leaving a day in between. You will do this for three or four weeks until its roots develop.

Do not water them with a shower or hose for at least three weeks. 

After three or four weeks you will have a strong and independent succulent. 

At this point, you will not need to spray it with an atomizer.

Another recommendation is that as the plant grows, you should reduce the days of irrigation. 

It is also important the amount of sun that the plant receives, you should unify it in semi-shade until the plant is or suffers enough to withstand the direct sun.

The best time to transplant the offspring is in the growing season, that is, between spring and summer. 

If you transplant the sapling in winter times there is a possibility that the plant dies, since succulents are very susceptible to cold. 

That is why I recommend that you transplant from spring to summer and so you will have a successful transplant.

How to propagate succulents by seeds?

This is another way of propagating succulents, although sometimes it is not the simplest.

You can buy the seeds in a nursery, or you can extract them from the same plant (this step can only be done in some succulents).

1. Check the succulent you want to propagate (during the flowering time) and see if you can extract seeds from the plant. 

In case the plant does not have seeds, do not worry you can buy the seeds online or at a garden store.

2. Prepare a small pot with a special substrate for cacti and succulents.

3. Sprinkle the seeds on top of the pot, without burying them much in the substrate.

4. With an atomizer, moisten the seeds and the substrate.

You must keep the substrate moistened (but that the substrate is not waterlogged).

5. Locate the pot where you receive sunlight indirectly.

Each species has its ideal germination temperature, anyway as orientation almost anything we sow will germinate well at about 25 ° C. 

We can wait to sow when the room temperature is adequate, and the best time to sow the seed is from spring to summer.

As for irrigation, the best way to water the seeds (at the beginning) is with an atomizer. 

The substrate must be moistened. Once the plant has its roots established, it should reduce the days of irrigation little by little, since the succulents when they are adults are so required of such frequency of irrigation.

Easiest Succulents to Propagate

Kalanchoe “Mother of Thousands”

Kalanchoe “Mother of Thousands” is a prolific propagator all on its own. This interesting succulent actually produces little baby plantlets all along its leaves without any intervention from you.

Sedum morganianum

This sedum variety is the first succulent I ever propagated from leaves. When leaves fall off they’ll often root and start growing new plants all on their own, though you can help things along if you want to propagate Burro’s Tail on purpose.

Graptoveria ‘Fred Ives’

It propagates extremely easily from leaves, cuttings, seeds, and even just a bare stem!

Sempervivum “Hens and Chicks”

This is another easy one, which makes it a great place to start if you’re new to propagating succulents.

Sempervivum “Hens and Chicks” are a cold resistant variety that can grow outdoors in most climates in North America.

Graptopetalum paraguayense

This succulent grows faster than any others I’ve seen. It’s not great for indoors, but if you have a sunny spot outside it will thrill you for years!

It can easily be propagated from leaves and cuttings, forming the most perfect little rosettes you’ve seen.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera is a popular succulent and houseplant that can be propagated from leaves and offshoots. Aloe sometimes reproduces by creating offspring “pups” alongside itself, which can eventually be removed and repotted on their own.

It is much easier to propagate aloe vera by removing its pups, though leaf propagation is an option if you have the patience for it. Leaf propagation has a low success rate, so I recommend against it.

To remove an aloe pup from its parent, you’ll need to remove the dirt from around the base of the pup. If the pup has formed its own roots, it can be successfully removed.

Use a clean knife to cut the pup away from the mother plant, being careful to leave the roots intact. Plant the pup in a container with good drainage and filled with cactus soil and give it a place with good sunlight.

String of Pearls

There are mixed opinions on the difficulty of propagating this interesting succulent, but I’ve always had good luck with it so I’m including it here.

To propagate string of pearls, cut off a strand about 4” long (or use a broken piece that has fallen off) and stick the cut end into the soil.

Sedum “Jelly Bean Plant”

This succulent is very similar to burro’s tail, and is also easily propagated.

To propagate this succulent, remove a few leaves and place them on top of damp cactus soil. In a few weeks, your Jelly Bean plant leaves should start to form roots, and eventually new Jelly Bean plants!

Graptosedum ‘California Sunset’

Just like it’s rosette friends above, this guy propagates easily from leaves and cuttings. It forms nice clumps of rosettes as it gets larger.

Succulent Propagation Timeline

One very important point to keep in mind when propagating succulents is that your timeline and success rate will vary depending on many factors. Here are some points you might want to keep in mind:

The process can be extremely slow

This especially applies for propagation attempts during wintertime. Additionally, some props just take way longer to establish themselves than others for no clear reason. We’ve had leaves sitting for months on end with no movement whatsoever and then suddenly sprouting a baby succulent in a week!

Unless you see rot or the cutting has dried out, you might as well leave it and see if it ever does anything. Speeding up succulent propagation can be done by providing a warm location, plenty of light and possibly rooting hormone. The plant hobby is not one for the impatient, though: sometimes you just have to wait.

Not all propagations will be successful

Even healthy-looking leaves and stems will sometimes wither for seemingly no reason. Don’t get discouraged, just review the care you provided and try again.

Did you leave the cutting to callous?

Were you using a gritty succulent soil?

Did you let the soil dry out entirely before spraying/watering again?

Onto adulthood!

As mentioned before, new leaf growth can be considered a sign of propagation success for stem cuttings and offsets. Once a few leaves have appeared, you can slowly start acclimating the plant to more sunlight until it’s eventually ready to join the rest of your collection.

With leaf props it can be a little more unclear whether the baby plant is ready to be treated as an adult succulent. They can grow quite slowly at first and it might take a few months for the propagation to start looking like a grown-up succulent. To be safe, you could consider 6 months unless you’re noticing lots of growth and/or legginess.