Propagating Succulents – How-to Tutorial

Plants for free – what is not to like about that?  Every time I go to my local garden center, I always check out their variety of succulents. Some are classified as perennials, which makes them more cost effective but, even so, have you checked out the prices for them?  $4-$5 for a TINY pot is not unusual at all.  Why pay these prices, when you can get all the succulents you want for free from just a cutting or a leaf? These tips for propagating succulents will give you dozens of extra plants in no time at all.

Succulents are very easy to propagate from leaves and cuttings. This gives you lots of plants for free! thegardeningcook.com

Get plants for free with these tips for propagating succulents.

I have dozens of varieties of succulents in my garden that I have collected.  Some of them, like hens and chicks (sempervivum) are cold hardy and can stay outside during the winter, and others have to be brought indoors over the winter or they will die from the frost that we get here in NC.  All of the varieties are candidates for propagating succulents.   The indoor plants that I tried to carry over got leggy from low light, so they will be cuttings.  I will also take leaves from many of the varieties.

Succulent plants

This photo shows you some leaves as well as some cuttings from the leggy plants.leaves and cuttings of succulents

The first step is to air dry the ends of the leaves and cuttings. Succulents will rot easily if you try to put them in soil too soon.  The reason is that they will try to absorb too much water, since they store moisture in the leaf area.  You will want the ends of the leaves to be calloused over before you plant them. Depending on how hot it is, this can take a few days to a week.  Be sure to get the whole leaf and try not to break it in half for best results in getting them to grow.Succulent leaves

I just laid my cuttings in a seedling tray that I plan to plant them in later and left them to dry.  

Lay the dried petals on cactus potting soil

Once the ends have nicely calloused over, they are ready for the soil.  I used a cactus and succulent potting soil and planted the cuttings around the outside and just laid the leaves in the middle in rows.  If you wish, you can use a rooting powder, but this is not necessary.  The leaves can also be stuck into the soil, but they will grow just fine laying on the top, too.

Mist the soil. Succulents don't like wet feet

Watering is tricky.  I used the mist setting on my hose nozzle to give the cuttings just a light mist every few days or when the soil was starting to dry out. The main thing is to go lightly on the watering or the cuttings will rot.

The cuttings are growing

In a few weeks, your cuttings will have started growing (a sure sign they have rooted) and the leaves will be sprouting small baby succulents.

in a few weeks a baby succulent forms

This tiny baby will grow into a full sized plant in no time at all.  a root and baby is forming on this leaf

This leaf shows both the roots that have formed and the baby that is starting to grow.Succulent seedlings in pots

The largest of my baby plants got to about 4 inches tall in about three weeks, so they were ready to go into their planters right way.  baby succulents in new soil

I put the smaller rooted cuttings into some 3 inch seedling pots that I had saved from a recent shopping trip for vegetable seedlings. They are a good size for these tiny plants and will give them some room to grow without having too much soil.

more babies from petals

More baby succulent plants as well as a few leaf cuttings that have just started to root but not yet grown the babies.

WAiting for the baby succulents to grow

Plants for free!  I will put these seedling trays on a planter stand on my patio so that they are easy to mist each night until they have really started growing. They are too small to put directly in the garden right now.I love the way tiny succulents look in small planters

Three new babies in one tiny planter – and they cost me nothing except a bit of time.  This little planter is only about 3 inches wide and 7 inches long and is the perfect size for a mini succulent planting.

tiny succulents can be planted in so many ways. This cute idea shows a brick with home of the home grown babies in it.

Sempervivum babies planted in the holes of a brick make a creative and neat looking planter.Propagating succulents is easyThese are the plants that I used for my propagating succulents project.  

  1. Echeveria derenbergii – Painted Lady
  2. Sencio “Firestorm”
  3. Senecio Vitalis
  4. Graptopetalum Paraguayense
  5. Graptosedum “Vera Higgins”
  6. Sedum treleasei
  7. Echeveria harmsii – Plush Plant
  8. Crassula Capitella

I left my small rooted cuttings on my patio until they started to grow into larger plants that can take normal garden conditions.  The next step was to plant them in the garden in a large cement block planter that I use to feature them in my Southwest themed garden bed.  Some of the openings have plant pots sunk in the soil (the tender varieties). The hardy varieties that will take the winter outdoors are planted directly into the soil.Cement blocks planter

Have you tried propagating succulents from cuttings and leaves?  What tips can you share that were successful for you?

Update on my cuttings.

Last fall, I transplanted many of these cuttings into a long container to bring indoors over the winter.  They are sitting in a sunny south facing window and doing well. I used a few of them to make a coffee pot terrarium project!Watering the terrarium

For more great garden ideas, be sure to visit my Pinterest garden board. Also be sure to check out this post for 25 Creative Succulent Planters to get some inspiration on how to showcase your succulents.

Want to know more about Succulent Plant Propagation?  This E-Book from Drought Smart Plants will tell you everything you need to know.Propagating suculents

This wonderful graphic shared by permission of FTD Fresh is a fabulous source to help identify succulents you might be growing but don’t know the name of.

Don't know the name of your succulent or cactus plant? This great Compendium of 127 Stunning Desert Plants and Succulents may help. Image shared with permission of ftd.com

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission from the sale, but the price is the same for you. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  33 comments for “Propagating Succulents – How-to Tutorial

  1. 06/17/2016 at 2:27 pm

    I’m definitely going to be trying this this weekend! I scored an entire bowl full of succulents at a yard sale for $2 a few weekends ago, and now I don’t think I can ever go back to buying them for 6 bucks a pop. Wish me luck!

    • Carol
      06/17/2016 at 3:16 pm

      Best of luck Brittany. I hope they do well for you. I’d love to see some pictures when they are growing! Carol

  2. Judi Howard
    07/20/2016 at 11:32 am

    I love your site and all the info. But I have alot of trouble keeping my succulents alive after I bring them home. How do you water them? I wait until the small pot is completely dry, water them very little. We live in a desert and I don’t put them outside in the hot sun but keep them inside, very little direct sun. Too much water? Too little direct sun? Help! :0) Judi

    • Carol
      07/20/2016 at 1:53 pm

      Hi Judi. Succulents do need a lot of light, so having them indoors without sunlight could be the problem. I have to bring mine indoors during the winter unless they are the hardy type and they suffer because of lack of light. Outdoors, I water mine every 2-3 days during the hottest summer months and rarely the rest of the time.
      Carol

  3. Brenda Board
    10/27/2016 at 10:05 pm

    Does any one know what the name of this is

  4. 11/09/2016 at 12:35 pm

    bonjour, j’habite sur l’île de la Réunion, dans l’océan Indien, climat tropical modéré, je peux vous dire que le soleil ici chauffe beaucoup, même en hiver: je vous remercie pour vos conseils, ça m’évitera d’acheter de nouvelles plantes, je vais suivre vos conseils en espérant que ça marchera, c’est là, que je saurais si j’ai la main verte, merci, merci

    • Carol
      11/09/2016 at 12:53 pm

      Hello Linda,

      I am not fluent in French, but I am assuming if you would like to know how well succulents would do in Reunion during the winter. Unfortunately, I have no experience with your climate, so I cannot give you advice in this matter.

      Carol

  5. Pamela
    11/22/2016 at 9:48 pm

    Inherited an older aloe plant that was in ruff shape..lost most of it ..but still hAve 2 hardy ones left ..I live in new England USA and winter is coming …but not sure really HOW to care for them 😥….gave them more black earth (since that’s what that had been in) but lost 3 of the others..HOW/HOW OFTEN do you feed aloe? I have LOTS OF SUNLIGHT! HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH in the winter?? Any advise is sooo greatly appreciated! !

    • Carol
      11/23/2016 at 10:13 am

      Hi Pamela. From my experience Aloe can take a lot of sunlight but will turn a much lighter color if it gets over 6 hours of direct hot summer sun. It is not cold hardy outside unless you live in the very warm zones. (I live in NC and have to bring mine indoors.) I don’t fertilize mine at all, but use compost in the pot when I transplant and once in the summer. Carol

  6. Zama Noyer
    03/09/2017 at 12:53 am

    Aloe plants LOVE to be crowded so don’t worry about repotting them when room is gone – unless they are pushing out of the soil dropping over the side..

    • Carol
      03/09/2017 at 9:52 am

      Hi Zama. thanks for the tip. My aloe plants send out lots of pups when they get crowded. Carol

  7. 03/18/2017 at 10:31 am

    Thank you very much! I already began. I had some trouble with the correct soil. Don’t know the vernacular terms in Spanish. But I love plants and succulents aré just my thing.

    • Carol
      03/18/2017 at 11:01 am

      My pleasure Teresa. They like a soil that has sand in it. You can add that to normal soil.

      • Teresa
        03/21/2017 at 12:21 pm

        Thank you. Worked all through the weekend. I’ll send some photos. Habe a nice day

        • Carol
          03/21/2017 at 12:43 pm

          looking forward to them!

  8. 03/27/2017 at 4:09 pm

    So glad I found your site through Pinterest! I have been afraid to make cuttings for a few weeks, but my poor succulents are in desperate need and your pictures reduced my fear. I can’t wait to make cuttings and start my outdoor succulent garden. I live in Nevada City, an hour outside Lake Tahoe, so the seasons require me to take them indoors or on the back porch in snowy weather. But inside during the winter made them leggy and desperate for more sun, so I’m going to free them this week!

    • Carol
      03/27/2017 at 4:18 pm

      I have to bring mine indoors, too, Juliette. They do get leggy, but take easily from cuttings. Just be sure to dry them out a little before you try to root them. Carol

  9. 03/27/2017 at 4:20 pm

    If they are very leggy, should I take a long piece, or cut a short piece and wait a while, if that makes sense? I don’t want to cut too much!

    • Carol
      03/27/2017 at 8:42 pm

      Hi Juliette. Taking a big piece is not a problem. What I normally do is cut it off where I want it to regrow from (It will sprout out from there.) Then, if the piece is really long, I cut the top of it off, let it dry out and plant that. Then I also take just the leaves off and let those dry out and plant those too. Lots of plants! Carol

      • 03/27/2017 at 8:44 pm

        Oh, this is perfect! Just what I needed to know. Thank you! 🙂

        • Carol
          03/27/2017 at 8:45 pm

          My pleasure! Have fun. Carol

  10. Megan Marissa
    04/25/2017 at 11:41 am

    Thanks for the article! I’ve seen conflicting things between this article and others about drying the leaves out: Do they have to be dried away from the soil in a separate container or can they be dried laying on top of the soil for a few days? After that, do you plant the sprouts down into the soil or just leave them laying on top? Thank you so much!

    • Carol
      04/25/2017 at 1:11 pm

      Hi Megan.Either way would work for drying them out. As to planting….some of them develop tiny babies and I leave those just sitting on top. The ones that form roots, I plant into the soil. Carol

      • Megan Marissa
        04/25/2017 at 7:23 pm

        Thanks so much!

        • Carol
          04/25/2017 at 9:56 pm

          Hi Megan. Sometimes seeds collected and hand pollinated may grow, but won’t produce a plant like the parent. My understanding is that the seeds that the plant drops on its own are infertile. I take your point though. I removed the link to the seeds so as not to confuse. One of the reasons that it is so rare is that division is the normal manner of propagating. Carol

  11. Wanda
    04/30/2017 at 1:05 am

    I bought 2 succulents recently at Home Depot to propagate. While there I saw a lot of leaves on the ground so I am now trying to propagate them. You may want to ask employees at store if it’s ok to take the fallen leaves. Most places will let you have them for free.

    • Carol
      04/30/2017 at 12:55 pm

      That’s a great tip Wanda! Carol

  12. 06/21/2017 at 9:38 am

    Hi. Thanks for this wonderful post. Some leaves fell out of one of our big succulents and I did this, not with your post, but other I saw before. One of the leaves does have now the little knobs of plant. But some of the others rotted and the others have lots of very fine and long roots. What should I do with the ones with roots? Are they ok?
    Thanks!

    • Carol
      06/21/2017 at 9:48 am

      Hi Priscilla. Yes the ones with the roots are fine. They will eventually form a small plant at the base of the leaf. Just plant them in potting soil and tend as you would any succulent. Just be careful not to water too much. Let them dry out slightly on the top of the soil before rewatering. Carol

  13. Fransi Malan
    06/21/2017 at 12:21 pm

    My succulents die. Bu I think I give to much water. Al the people I am asking tells my I must water them every 3 hours and then they just die. Help please

    • Carol
      06/21/2017 at 1:58 pm

      Hi Fransi. Succulents need very LITTLE water. I always let mine dry out for at least the top inch of soil before adding more water. They are dessert plants and thrive on far less water than you are giving them. Carol

  14. Mary
    06/25/2017 at 12:44 pm

    HI Carol, I started a Jade plant from a leaf and now it’s about 6″ tall. Could tell me how I can get it to branch out like a Jade Tree does?
    I love your site, found you on Pinterest! Thank You. Mary

    • Carol
      06/25/2017 at 2:11 pm

      Hi Mary. Glad you are enjoying my site! This page talks about pruning a jade plant into a tree. Carol

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