How to Propagate Succulents From Leaves
Whether you are a houseplant novice or an experienced indoor gardener, you probably have at least one succulent in your collection. Succulents are attractive and easy to find, and there are so many fun and unique varieties to choose from. However, one of their most endearing qualities is how easily they can be propagated. In fact, you can use almost any part of a succulent plant for propagation - even its leaves. That’s right, you can grow a whole new succulent plant using just one leaf, and the process is surprisingly easy (and addictive). Whether you are pruning back your plant, fixing leggy growth, or just hoping to grow your succulent collection, using leaves from your succulents for propagation is a great way to grow new plants. Trust us, once you get the hang of it you’ll be growing more succulents than you know what to do with. Here’s everything you need to know about propagating succulents from leaves.
Before You Begin
There are several different methods that are commonly recommended for propagating succulents from leaves, ranging from suspending the leaves above water to misting them every day until new roots grow. The truth is that very little is required to get new succulents to grow from a leaf, and interfering with the process too much is likely to result in a failed outcome. The following method is one of the most simple, and is guaranteed to give you great results. As with any type of propagation, it’s a good idea to start multiple propagations at once in case a few don’t work out in the process.
What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Container or shallow tray
- Small plastic or terracotta pot
- Sandy, well-draining soil mix
How to Propagate Succulents From Leaves
Remove Leaves From a Healthy Succulent Plant
The first step is to remove the leaves that you will use for propagation. While simple, this step is one of the most important. In order to be successful, the leaf needs to come off of the succulent with the base (i.e. the part where it connects to the stem) fully intact. This is where new growth will come from, so if it is damaged propagation will not work.
To remove the leaf properly, wiggle and twist it gently until it pops off the stem. It should come off pretty easily, but if the base of the leaf tears at all, you will need to start again with a fresh leaf.
Place the Leaves on Soil
Prepare a pot or small tray with some sandy, well-draining potting soil and place the leaves on top of the soil so that the base of the leaf is in direct contact with the surface of the soil.
Put the Tray in a Bright Location
Place the soil with the leaves in a warm location that receives bright, indirect light. Avoid direct light where possible as it can scorch the leaves. Do not mist the leaves or water the soil at all until roots begin to grow—there is no way for the leaves to absorb the water without roots!
Water Once Roots Start to Grow
After a few weeks, you should begin to see small white or pink roots sprouting from the ends of your succulent leaves. Once the roots have started growing, you can begin watering them occasionally, but remember that they are still succulents and they don’t need much.
It is usually a good idea to wait until you start seeing small buds developing at the base of the leaf to water for the first time. When you do water, ensure that you concentrate the water on the roots rather than the leaf. You can use a spray bottle for this or just a few droplets of water. Wait until the soil has thoroughly dried out before watering again.
As your new succulent begins to grow, it will remain attached to the original leaf until eventually, the leaf shrivels up. Don’t remove this leaf prematurely at any point. It is providing energy to the new succulent and helping it become established. While it may look kind of odd for a bit, it will eventually fall off on its own.
Wait Until Roots Are Long
It will take a few months before the succulents are big enough to transfer to their own pots. It’s best to wait until they are at least an inch across, or have established root systems, to repot them.
Repot the New Succulents
Once the succulents are large enough to transplant, prepare a small plastic or terracotta pot with a sandy, well-draining soil mixture or succulent/cactus soil mix. Plant the succulent in the pot, patting the soil down firmly around the base of the plant. Move the succulent back to a location with bright, indirect light.
Now that the succulent is established you can begin to move it to a spot with more direct sunlight, although you should do so slowly so as to not burn its leaves. Every couple of days, gradually move it to a brighter location to slowly acclimate it to its new conditions.
Tips for Propagating Succulents
One of the most common mistakes people make when propagating succulents from leaves is watering the leaves too early. Some methods recommend misting the leaves regularly to encourage new roots to grow, however, this is not only ineffective but also unnecessary. Succulents are designed to propagate readily from their leaves so that when leaves fall off in their natural habitat they can grow into new plants. This means that just like succulents, the propagation process is designed to thrive in arid conditions (with very little water). As a general rule of thumb, less is more when it comes to propagating succulents from leaves. As hard as it is, try your best to be patient and interfere as little as possible in the process.