Propagating Succulent Leaves and Cuttings – Tips for Propagating Succulents

Nothing is more attractive to a gardener than getting new plants without having to pay for them.  And since succulents are a very sought after plant, it stands to reason propagating succulent leaves and cuttings is a popular project for many gardeners. Best of all, it’s easy and free!

Succulents are very drought hardy plants that are often uses for indoor gardens.  They are easy to grow and also easy to root for new plants using the stems, offsets, leaves and cuttings. These tips for propagating succulents will give you dozens of extra plants in no time at all.

These Tips for propagating succulents will give you new plants for free in just weeks.

The Gardening Cook is a participant in the Amazon Affiliate Program. This post may contain affiliate links. I earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you if you purchase through an affiliate link.

What is succulent propagation?

Plant propagation is the process of making new plants by using one or more parts of the original plants.  Seeds, stem cuttings from plants, leaves, and offsets can be used to get new plants for free with this technique. 

With the proper soil medium and the right conditions, tiny new plants will grow from all parts of the mother plant.

Propagating succulents from cuttings

For succulent propagation the parts are normally separated from the plant and started in a soil medium.  Sometimes, the propagation is done while the plant is attached to the mother plant, as is the case with air layering of very large plants, but normally leaves are most commonly used for propagating succulents.

Use these tips for propagating succulent leaves and cuttings

Plants for free – what is not to like about that? This is especially true in the case of succulents which can be very expensive, even for a tiny specimen.

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, it is not unusual to spend $4-$5 for a TINY succulent plant in a 2″ container.  Why pay these prices, when you can get all the succulents you want for free from just a cutting or the leaves?

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, but others like many echeveria varieties have to be brought indoors over the winter or they will die from the frost that we get here in NC.  

Succulent plants ready to propagate

All varieties of succulents are candidates for propagation using their parts. The indoor plants that I tried to carry over through the winter got quite leggy from low light conditions, so they will be used as stem cuttings.  I will also take the leaves from many of the varieties.

Occasionally, you will find a succulent that has a tag that says “propagation prohibited.”  This is normally specially hybridized varieties that have patents on them.  Propagation can still be done but resale is a big no no. See my article for growing echeveria neon breakers for more details on this topic.

This photo shows you some leaves as well as some cuttings from succulents that had gotten leggy.

Propagating succulent cuttings

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.  

What about growing succulents in water?

Since many stem cuttings of other plants can be rooted in water, I often have readers ask whether they will have success propagating succulents in water.  The short answer is “maybe, but probably not successfully.”  I have seen blogs which show succulents rooting in water, but since succulents store water in their leaves and since over-watering is a common problem with succulents, it stands to reason that soil or sand is a better medium.

I have also heard that even if you have success rooting succulents in water, the roots will behave differently than normally rooted succulents do.  So, it might be fun to try this for a project, but I’d keep my propagation efforts to soil rooting.

Be sure to callous over the ends of the leaves

You will want the ends of the leaves to be calloused over before you plant them. This will keep the leaves and stem cuttings from rotting when they are placed in soil. 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 roots.

propagating succulents from leaves

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

What type of soil is used for growing succulents from cuttings?

Once the ends have nicely calloused over, they are ready for the soil.  A good soil for succulents is well draining potting soil such as Hoffman Organic cactus and succulent soil. You can also use a handful of sand or perlite mixed into normal potting soil.  It is important to have a proper soil that will promote good drainage and also provide nutrients to the growing succulent cuttings.Lay the dried petals on cactus potting soil

I planted the stem cuttings around the outside  of the container and just laid the individual leaves in the middle in rows. A shallow plant tray is best.  Succulents have a very small root structure and if your container is too deep, you may have problems with over watering.

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.

How often to water succulents

The stem cuttings and leaves of succulents act in the same way as their parent plant did. They are quite drought resistant and you need ot be careful about how much water you add to the tray.

Mist the soil. Succulents don't like wet feet

Watering is tricky.  I used the fine 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 likely rot.

How long does it take for succulent leaf cuttings to start 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 near the end that had been previously calloused over. This tiny baby will grow into a full sized plant in no time at all and will have quite a healthy root system.  

Once the plantlets have a good root system, it is time to plant them in normal pots. Clay pots are great for succulents since they are porous and help to keep the soil from getting too wet.

Stem Cuttings of Succulents

Most of my project was done using just the leaves of succulent plants to get them to root. But succulents will also grow from stem cuttings.  

This works especially well if you have plants that get long and leggy from being indoors and not getting enough sunlight in the winter. These plants will reach for the light and will grow tall instead of staying small and compact.  The plant below shows how the top of the succulent is starting to stretch to the light, instead of keeping the rosette shape.Leggy succulent

In a case like this, just cup of the top section of the plant and let it callous over and plant it.  New roots will grow and the plants will be a more normal, healthy size.How to plant succulent cuttings

Planting the baby succulents

I use shallow clay pots to plant my stem cuttings and tiny seedling trays for my leaf cuttings. 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.  How to grow succulents from cuttings

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.

Planting succulent cuttings

You can see from this photo that I still have more baby succulent plants as well as a few leaf cuttings that have just started to root but not yet grown the babies. I’ll just give them some more time and they’ll take, I’m sure.WAiting for the baby succulents to grow

Propagation of succulents from Offsets

The above steps discuss getting new plants from stem cuttings as well as using the leaves to root into new cuttings. Another method of plant propagation is the use of offsets. This is the fastest way to get new plants!Succulents send out offsets that can be potted up to make new plants.

Many offsets have roots already growing.  All you need to do is to separate the tiny baby from the mother plant and pot it into its own container.  Just water lightly and the roots will start growing more vigorously once the plant has its own pot and soil. Hens and chicks and other stonecrop succulents easily send out offsets.

It is amazing what type of planters will work for succulents. Their small size allows them to be planted in very small spaces, like the holes of this brick!  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 of offsets.

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

Growing Succulents

I will put these seedling trays on a planter stand on the deck garden 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

Anything small can be used as a planter. Try tea cups, coffee mugs, tiny decorative watering cans.  All will be useful to plant up tiny succulents.


Types of succulents used in my project for the propagation of succulents

I used a variety of succulents in my project.   I had sedum, echeveria and sempervivums to choose from so it gave me a nice variety to try and grow into new plants.Propagating succulents is easy

Just match the numbers on the chart above to the name below to see what I have growing now as new plants.

  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

Planting the succulents outdoors

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

If you are looking for a way to display all the new plants that you got from propagating the leaves, check out this fun DIY wooden box succulent planter. I made it in just a couple of hours and it only cost me about $3!

DIY succulent planter box

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 Cactus and Succulent board. There are hundreds of ideas for using 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

Propagating succulent plants is a very easy project to do.  If you are careful to watch your water level and are prepared to wait a few weeks for your plants to grow, you will end up with a whole batch of new plants that cost you nothing except for some time and the cost of potting soil.  What a winning combination!

Propagating succulent leaves and cuttings is very easy to do and will give you new plants for free.

Admin note: This post first appeared on the blog in June of 2016. I have updated the post with new information and more photos. 

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."

  42 comments for “Propagating Succulent Leaves and Cuttings – Tips for Propagating Succulents

  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

      • Alice Cashatt
        02/13/2018 at 9:03 pm

        Have u tried indoor grow lights for succulents?

        • Carol
          02/14/2018 at 12:11 pm

          Hi Alice. I have used grow lights but not for succulents. They would grow just fine under them if you don’t have the light conditions indoors. 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. Teresa
    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

  15. Nancy
    09/02/2017 at 9:21 pm

    Hi Carol,
    Does it matter which way you lay your leaves down to propagate?
    I let my leaves dry for a week before placing them on the soil like your picture shows 2 weeks ago and I picked up 2 and I see tiny hair roots starting to show. I am spraying them every 2 days until the soil is moist. I’m worried as I have all my leaves facing down (not curled up at the end). Have I placed them incorrectly ?
    Wish I had found your site before before tonight !

    • Carol
      09/03/2017 at 11:35 am

      Hi Nancy. The leaves will shrivel a bit and that is not a problem if roots have formed. You can propagate either from laying the leaves or inserting them into the soil. The main thing is to let the cut dry out before you start. Carol

  16. B
    03/04/2018 at 7:57 am

    This is great information! I have a couple kalanchoe that I would like to propagate. Do you believe the leaf method will work? Thank you!

    • Carol
      03/04/2018 at 11:52 am

      Hi B. Leaf cuttings work for all types of succulents but I have best results with those that have fairly plump leaves. I’ve rooted kalancoe with both leaves and with stem cuttings successfully. Carol

  17. Emma
    06/21/2018 at 11:04 am

    Have you managed to get your senecios’ leaves grow babies?

  18. Emma
    06/21/2018 at 11:05 am

    Have you managed to get your senecios’ leaves grow babies? I heard they don’t propagate with leaves

    • Carol
      06/21/2018 at 11:57 am

      I’ve managed to get string of pearls senecio to propagate but not the pencil type. It is possible though. They grow from both seeds and cuttings. Carol

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *