Water Propagation For Succulents: A Beginners Guide

Water Propagation For Succulents is not always successful on the first few tries, but we encourage you start somewhere because…it’s rewarding when it works! You. Got this.

Propagation for many succulents is best done in soil, but some plants can be propagated in water. This is because they have evolved in an environment that allows it.

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What is Water Propagation For Succulents?

Let’s start with the basic ones: what do we understand by propagating or reproducing succulent plants in water?

Propagating or reproducing succulents in water is using water as a means to root the cuttings or leaves of our succulent plants.

This may run counter to conventional thinking about succulents. What most people believe is that succulent plants don’t like to be in contact with water too long as it promotes root rot.

Therefore, propagation in water could contradict what we thought we knew about the care and propagation of succulents. And yet lately I’ve heard more and more about propagation in water.

From what I have heard and read, some people find that spreading water is easier than the more “conventional” methods of rooting in the soil or in a dry environment.

I have read many success stories of people who have not been successful with succulent propagation until they tried water propagation.

In fact, some people only spread succulent cuts by the water method because they see faster results and greater overall success.

Why Succulent Cuttings Do Not Rot in Water

The success of succulent water propagation may depend on the type of succulent you’re trying to root.

Many jades, sempervivums, and echeverias take well to water rooting.

If you decide to give this a try, follow the easy steps listed below to maximize your success: 

Allow succulent cutting ends to callous. This takes a few days to a week and prevents the cutting from taking up too much water and rot. 

Use distilled water or rainwater. If you must use tap water, let it sit for 48 hours so the salts and chemicals can evaporate. Fluoride is especially harmful to young cuttings, traveling through the plant in the water and settling on leaf edges.

This makes the leaf edges brown, which spreads if you continue to give the plant fluoridated water. 

Keep the water level just below the plant’s stem. When you’re ready to root the calloused cutting, let it hover just above the water, not touching.

This creates stimulation to encourage roots to develop. Wait patiently, a few weeks, until a root system grows.

Place under a grow light or a bright light situation outside. Keep this project out of direct sunlight.

Can You Grow Succulents in Water Permanently? 

If you like the looks of your succulent in the water container, you can keep it there. Change the water as needed. Some gardeners have said they grow succulents in water regularly with good results.

Others leave the stem in the water and let it root, although this is not recommended. Some sources say the roots that grow in water are different from those that grow in soil.

If you root in water and move to soil, keep this in mind. A new set of soil roots will take time to develop.

Why Succulent Cuttings Do Not Rot in Water

One theory I heard is that the reason why succulent cuttings do not rot in water is because water is not the main culprit for rot.

Succulent plants sitting in wet soil are exposed to fungus and pathogens in the soil that introduce diseases to the plant, causing root rot.

When propagating in water, the plants are not exposed to the pathogens normally present in the soil medium and therefore, they do not suffer from rot.

Water propagation for succulents a step by step guide.

Many do not see the need for going the water propagation route. I can see the appeal.

But water propagation can be more straightforward. But the results on water propagation can vary depending on your experience, prefer method, environment.

If you have not tried it, I encourage you to do it your self and make your own opinion. Because you will hear lots of pros and cons on this topic.

And with experience, you can formulate your thoughts. 

As I have heard and read, a lot of people prefer this route because it is faster and they have better success than with dirt propagation.

So if you are looking to experiment and try something new, or you’ve tried propagating again and again but have had zero luck, this is definitely worth a try.

How to Propagate in Water: 

1. Prepare your cutting.

If your succulent has an offshoot (a new stem with a rosette) you can snip it right off the mother plant, remove the leaves below the rosette, and use that as your cutting.

If none of your succulents have offshoots, you’ll snip the mother plant’s stem an inch or two below the rosette, and remove the remaining leaves.

Be sure to leave the rest of leaves on the mother plant to encourage new rosette growth. Let your cuttings callus over for a few days.

Snip a stem cutting from a succulent plant. Plants that have become leggy can be a great source of stem cuttings. Leave about two inches or more of bare stem.

Choose healthy leaves. You will have better success when you start with a healthy leaf.

Choose leaves that are not damaged, ripped, torn or misshapen. Look for full and plump leaves, not dehydrated and flat leaves.

Gently remove the leaves from the stem. Using your fingers, gently twist off the leaves from the stem with your thumb and forefinger. Some leaves come off easily, some are firmly attached to the stem.

Gently wiggle the leaf back and forth until the whole leaf comes off.

You want the whole leaf including the base that attaches to the stem. If the base of the leaf does not come off, or if the leaf gets damaged, it will not survive.

Let the cuttings dry. Allow the cutting to dry for a couple of days until the cut end have calloused or dried.

2. Pick a jar.

We recommend using a glass jar, like a mason jar or old jam jar. Whatever you choose, just make sure that the jar is clear so that sunlight can pass through.

3. Set it up.

Fill the jar up with water and situate the cutting so the stem is a few millimeters above the water.

This will encourage root growth downward, towards the water. If your succulent cutting is too small to balance on the rim of the jar, you can cover the jar with plastic wrap, poke a hole in it, and stick the stem through the hole. Place the jar in a sunny window.

Another way people do it is to let the end of the cutting touch the water.

Both methods seem to work from what I have heard. (I did the latter, where the end of the cuttings were touching the water).

4. Grow time.

Place in a bright spot. Leave the cup in a sunny or well-lit area.

Wait for roots to grow. Add water as needed.

Plant the rooted cuttings. Once roots have grown, allow for the cuttings to dry for a few days. Once dry, the rooted cuttings can be planted in a suitable potting mix.

Water occasionally. Baby plants need a little more moisture than mature plants.

Lightly mist the soil with a spray bottle every few days or when the soil feels dry. Once the plant is more established and rooted, decrease watering to about once a week.

The water in your jar can evaporate. Check in on it periodically and top it off if you see that the stem is more than a few millimeters above the water.

It can take anywhere from 2-6 weeks for roots to sprout, depending on your climate and environment. Eventually the roots will reach into the water, that is totally okay.

Water alone will not cause root rot. Check out this side-by-side of what 3 weeks of root growth looked like for us:

Potting your new plant

If you want to transfer or transplant your succulents from water to soil, it’s highly recommended to wait until the cutting has at least an inch-long root or the mother leaf has started to dry out, then allowing it to air-dry on a paper towel for about a day or two. 

Keep in mind that water roots are very fragile compared to soil roots, so handle them with care and to gradually introduce them to soil.

Once the roots have dry out, gently burrow your succulent into an unfertilized cactus soil and put it in an area where they can only get bright and indirect light. 

Since your succulents are still fragile during this point, giving them direct sunlight is not recommended. 

From here, it is advisable to give your succulent a regular watering schedule. A good soak once every 2 weeks would do.

FAQ

How to propagate succulents by means of leaves

Some sedum, crassulas, and other succulents are best spread through the leaves. Each leaf can become a new plant.

To multiply succulents by leaves follow these steps:

  • Choose a healthy leaf. You can use the fallen ones, or detach a leaf from the mother plant. Make sure the end of the blade is not cut.
  • Let the leaf dry for three days. This is done to seal the wound. You can place it in a shaded area. Some place it on pearls but it is not necessary. Do not water these leaves during these days.
  • Place the leaves on a substrate for cacti and succulents. Don’t plant them, just place them. The cut end of the sheet does not have to touch the substrate. You will see how soon the roots will find their way to the ground.
  • Water with an atomizer (spray) leaving a day in between for four to six weeks.
  • After a few weeks you will see roots at the ends of the leaves. Then you will also see a tiny plant that will start to grow.
  • When the plants develop, plant them in cactus and succulent substrate or in your own mix.

How to propagate succulents by cutting

This is the fastest way to propagate succulent plants.

To multiply succulents by cutting follow these steps:

  • Detaches a stem from the mother plant.
  • Remove the lower leaves of the cutting. Leave at least 2 inches uncovered.
  • Let the cut wound heal. Place it in a shady area. The wider the cutting, the longer it will take to heal. In my experience, it will take at least 5 days.
  • Sow cuttings in cactus and succulent substrate or make your own mix.
  • Water with atomized (spray) in which the succulent is established. Gradually reduce irrigation.

How to multiply succulents by division

It seems cruel to separate the children from the mother. But the truth is that taking off these shoots is beneficial for the succulent mother, since they do not fight for food.

  • See shoots large enough for them to become independent of the mother plant.
  • Remove the shoots with a sharp and disinfected garden scissors. In some cases the child will come off by turning it gently.
  • Be careful not to damage the roots.
  • Sow the shoots in a substrate for cacti and succulents. Some recommend using a combination of sand and perlite.
  • Water your sprouts (spray) with a spray bottle leaving a day in between. You will do this for three to 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.

What is a succulent

Succulents are a group of plants with some of the most diverse forms, colors and blooms.

These easy to care for indoor and outdoor specimens are a dream for the busy gardener.

What is a succulent plant? Succulents are specialized plants that store water in their leaves and/or stems.

They are remarkably adapted to harsh climates where water is scarce or comes sporadically.

Merriam Webster defines a succulent as “full of juice” or “juicy.” Read on for some fun succulent plant info so you can get started collecting the myriad of varieties available in this special class of plant.

Oddly, some botanists and horticultural experts differ on which plants are technically succulents.

Their appearance differs from species to species, but one common characteristic is swollen leaves, pads or stems.

The exact classification of a certain plant will have to go to the experts, but whatever the case, all types of succulents or those that appear to be succulents are pleasing to the eye, minimal regarding care and produce delightful little surprises during their life cycle.

Again, referring to the dictionary, a succulent plant has thick stems or leaves that store water.

This unique adaptation allows the plant to survive in low moisture regions of the world. Succulents are often thought to be native only to arid regions, such as deserts, but they also belong in forest settings, high alpine regions, coasts and dry tropical areas.

There are over 50 families that are classed as succulents. There are both xerophytic succulents that thrive in dry areas and halophytic types which live in boggy saline soil.

The xerophytic succulents are the best known form and are widely available as house or garden plants.

What are some commonly known succulents?

If swollen leaves and stems are the main succulent plant characteristics visible, there are also other qualities which delineate the group.

Shallow roots are one adaptation shared among the succulents. A few varieties have deeper tap roots but the majority has wide, surface root zones that allow maximum moisture capture when infrequent rains occur. 

Some of the succulent plant types commonly available are: 

  • Agaves 
  • Yucca 
  • Aloe 
  • Cacti 
  • Bromeliad
  • Sedum
  • Sempervivum
  • Echeveria 
  • Various euphorbias

Some types of orchids It is important to note their hardiness range, but many of these can thrive in the garden.

Smaller succulents make varied and fascinating container displays for the indoors. Almost all species need at least 8 hours of light, warm daytime temperatures, consistent water during the growing season and well-drained soil.

My thoughts on water propagation:

This propagation method has become very fashionable for its simplicity, among all plant lovers.

It is an excellent alternative to create beautiful botanical corners, where mixing pots, jars and diverse species, makes it much more entertaining and attractive.

You just need patience and a desire to experiment. Never forget that this is always trial and error

To propagate leaf cuttings in water (in this case of succulents), we recommend the following materials:

Healthy leaf cuttings (Very important for success).

Alusa Paper.

1 Elastic to hold Alusa paper by the edge (* optional)

1 shallow well (shallow).

Knife with a good point or skewer stick.

To propagate hanging species such as a Senecio Rowleyanus (Rosario), you can use test tubes or deeper wells to establish them well.