Succulents are interesting, in that many, if not most, have the ability to grow entirely new plants from their leaves or stems.
Many people take cuttings of succulents, or will pick up fallen leaves, which can grow into new baby plants if luck will have it!
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How to Propagate Succulents from Cuttings
What’s a cutting?
Cuttings are parts taken from an already-established plant (often called the mother plant) in hopes of producing a baby.
Cuttings can be a branch off of the original stem, an offshoot or a pup, or a leaf.
Propagation through cuttings is how many succulent growers acquire more plants without purchasing established adult plants.
Growing new plants from cuttings
For non-leaf cuttings, certain precautions should be taken to ensure the health of the mother plant and the baby.
- Use a sterilized knife to make the cut.
- Cut so that the new plant will have a decent amount of stem (at least an inch).
- Avoid getting any soil into the cut on the mother and pup/cutting, as bacteria in the soil can lead to rot.
- Lay the cutting/pup on a dry, clean surface, and let it callous over (let the wound heal) for several days.
- After the wound is fully calloused, you can either stick it in some soil or lay it on top.
- Watering is not necessary until the plant has roots, but you may wish to spray it a bit every now and again- some people believe this helps roots to form.
*Once roots have formed, bury them and water the plant as normal.
How to Growing new Succulents from leaves
Growing new succulents from fallen or picked leaves can be somewhat difficult. Not all leaves will grow successfully, or they may begin to grow and then fail. Your results may vary!
As a general guide, Echeveria, Graptopetalum, Pachyphytum, Adromischus, and Kalanchoe can be propagated easily from leaf cuttings.
The same goes for Crassula and Sedum with chunky leaves. If they have smaller leaves, stem cuttings work better.
This is a successful propagation of an Echeveria Perle von Nuremberg leaf.
|Roots showing. Ready to pot up and water||Multiple pups developing||Pups get larger and original leaf starts drying up||Original leaf now dried up||One or more pups could make it. Can be separated when large enough|
For fallen/dropped leaves
- Make sure the end of the leaf is a clean break.
- Try not to pick up damaged/broken leaves, as most of the leaf’s stored nutrients and water will be put towards roots/a new plant, and every bit counts! Also, most succulents do not sprout from damaged/broken leaves, with some exceptions (haworthias, gasterias, and a few others).
For picked leaves
- Grasp the leaf firmly, and wiggle it gently from side to side. You can also twist it slightly, but be careful when doing so, as you may break the end off of the leaf.
- Clean breaks are important!!
- Certain species cannot prop from just leaves. Make sure to research if your plant can before trying this out!
After leaves are gathered, simply lay them in indirect light on a plate, a windowsill, or on top of some soil, and wait!
If roots appear, lightly cover them with soil and moisten every few days.
With some luck, the leaf will create a baby plant! However, this is not a guaranteed success- some leaves may simply shrivel up and die, others might create roots but no props, and others may grow props without roots.
Any leaf that isn’t translucent, rotting, or drying up is still a chance at propagating, so don’t toss any leaves until you know they won’t propagate successfully.
Some plants will propagate faster or slower than others and may take months at a time to produce anything viable.
Once you have some successful props with both roots and a baby plant (or more), lay them on some soil and cover the roots lightly.
The plantlet will hopefully continue to grow.
It does not need to be watered until the mother leaf is shriveled, crispy and dry- this means the baby has used up all of the nutrients from the mother, and will need to survive on its own.
You may remove the dry leaf, or leave it attached, where it will separate on its own or decompose.
You can replant the baby in a separate pot now, and tend to it as you would an adult plant.