How to Propagate Succulents
The next time you accidentally snap a leave off your jade plant (Crassula ovata), don’t toss it in the compost pile. Or go ahead and cut some leaves from your burro’s tail (Sedum morganianum) whenever you’re ready. Tough, easy-to-grow succulents have juicy leaves and stems that you can easily use to make more plants. Here’s how:
Pull a leaf or leaves off a succulent with your fingers, or cut with a sharp knife or scissors. Be sure to get the entire leaf, including the base. If part of the leaf stays attached to the stem, it may not root. Of course, don’t remove too many leaves at once, which could harm the plant.
Let the leaves air dry for a few days. If you put them in soil right away, they’ll absorb too much moisture and rot. You’ll know the leaves are ready when the cut or pulled ends feel hardened or calloused over.
Optional: Dip the ends of the leaves in rooting hormone. While this is helpful in rooting many other types of cuttings, most gardeners don’t find it necessary with succulents.
Fill a tray or other container with cactus or succulent soil that drains easily. Put the leaves on top of the soil.
Photo by Lynn Coulter
Now relax for a few weeks. Soon little roots will sprout from the ends of the leaves. Water sparingly until you see baby plants forming. Once the babies appear, let the soil dry out before you water again. Remember: Succulents store water in their tissues, so they don’t require a lot of watering.
Let the plantlets grow until the mother leaf starts to wither. Now you can either gently separate the babies from the original leaves and put them in individual pots, or move the leaves with the babies still attached into new pots. The mother leaves will eventually fall off.
If you have a succulent that’s grown tall and leggy, you can also propagate new plants from its stem. Simply take off all the leaves and handle them as described above.
Don’t remove the stem from the soil, unless the soil is old and you need to replace it with fresh, nutrient-rich soil. If so, use cactus or succulent soil in a clean pot.
Cut the remaining stem to about an inch above the soil. Allow the cut end of this stub to dry out and callous over, just as you did with the leaves.
Water sparingly until you see baby plants popping up around the stub. Once they’re large enough to handle, they should have formed their own small roots. Carefully separate them from the stub and pot them up individually.
Now you’ve saved money and added more plants to your collection!