Propagating succulent plants is an exciting and inexpensive way to grow your flora collection! Do you have any succulents around the house that need pruning? Do you want to feed your succulent obsession but just don’t have the budget for purchasing more plants? Fear not! You can cut the heads off of your existing succulent plants to produce more!
The succulent propagation process is easy and requires little water which makes a water conservation enthusiast like me very happy 🙂 Some plant species are easier to propagate than others, but I’m going to spell out a few tricks that I’ve learned to help you in your experimental attempts. I am still new to the world of succulent plants, but I’ve been extremely satisfied with my level of success in propagation.
Where is a good place to start?
One way to propagate a succulent is to cut a branching stem off from a “mother plant.”
Notice there are two separate stems sprouting from the same plant pictured on the left. I’ll continue to grow the main stem that looks nicer and cut off the left stem to propagate from. Each healthy leaf from this succulent plant can serve as a new “mother plant” if nurtured carefully. The first thing to do when preparing your plant for propagation is to carefully remove a section that you are ready to part with. Once removed, you can start to pluck each leaf from the stem…
Pay special attention to how you pluck the leaves from your clipped stem. If you snap a leaf in half (see below), it will not produce successful offspring. An easy way to ensure smooth leaf removal is to pinch the leaf with your forefinger and thumb then twist away from the stem. Be gentle with the leaves as you twist to prevent any breakage. The photo below illustrates the two potential outcomes when plucking from your succulent stem. 1) A successful leaf removal with no signs of damage and 2) An unsuccessful removal that results in a broken leaf. If you break a leaf, toss it into your compost pile. You only want to keep your successful attempts.
Here is a photo collage of leaf removal:
Now let’s go back to your mother plant… After clipping one of its stems, allow the wound on the mother plant to heal over– similar to a scab. Make sure to check that the stem has healed before introducing water to it; otherwise, the succulent may become too saturated and might rot. The same goes for each leaf that you remove from your clipped stem; allow the tip of each leaf to scab over before providing them with water. The scabbing process may take a few days; the bigger the surface of the cut, the longer it will take to heal. Store all of your leaves in a container in an area with indirect sunlight while giving them time to scab over. I used a cupcake carrier tray to contain my leaves in, which worked great for toting them out of the way when I needed to. Be sure not to give too much direct sun during this stage since you won’t be hydrating the leaves while their tips heal. I made the mistake of burning my first batch! Here is a successful trial:
After your plucked leaves begin to form a protective layer over their wounds, place them in some soil so that the end which attached to the stem touches the soil. You can collect leaves from a variety of succulents to create a mandala design!
Put your leaves in a sunlit windowsill and spritz the soil with water every few days. Avoid spraying water directly on the leaves, as they can shrivel if too saturated. There is no need to water the leaves everyday… If your soil is moist, then do not water again. You want to apply water to the soil only when the soil feels dry to the touch. However, don’t leave your soil to get bone dry!
Maintaining your leaves is incredibly easy… even if you are forgetful! You are more likely to hurt the leaves by over watering them rather than under watering them. I accidentally left my leaves unwatered for over 3 weeks…they still began to sprout roots and new leaves once I added water.
After a few weeks or months of tender love and care, your plucked leaves will begin to grow roots and little leaves. Allow this process to continue and leave the “mother leaf” until it shrivels. Once it shrivels, you can remove it and transplant your new succulent baby into its own pot! Here’s a picture of baby succulents growing from an old stem that I repotted. The new leaves grew from areas where old leaves were plucked from. How exciting!
Let’s revisit your mother plant again… Does it have dead leaves at its base? If so, give the succulent a manicure by removing the expired leaves. Once you clear out the dried leaves, your succulent will look brand new in its pot! I find this to be so therapeutic 🙂
Becoming a succulent goddess is fun! You can propagate like crazy and produce hundreds of baby plants all from one original mother succulent. Not only will your house and office be adorned with a succulent family, but you’ll also have a water conservation stamp of approval for gardening with water-wise methods. Congrats!
This blog was written by Emily Bilcik, a self-acclaimed succulent goddess and self-taught gardener.