It’s quite simple to grow new succulents from the ones you have and there’s no need to buy new plants when the ones you have are ready to make babies any time. I’ll show you what I do to propagate my favourites.
The term succulent covers a broad range of plants with one thing in common: drought-resistance due to their water-storing abilities in both the leaves and stems. Who knew water-retention could look so good?
While every plant under the succulent umbrella does not behave the same way, many of the common ones sold as houseplants (like the Echeverias and Sempervivums you see here) are definitely easy to care for and propagate.
Like many houseplants, indoor succulents probably struggle the most from too much or too little care. We either forget they’re there or water too much. It took me years to find a happy balance.
Love African violets? Here’s an easy way to grow more from the ones you have.
Propagating Succulents from Leaves
Before propagating any plant, check whether the plant is patented. Just like new medications, new plant hybrids these days are often come with legal protections for the original growers to recoup their development costs. This also applies to many outdoor garden plants including popular new flowering annuals. Save your tags and understand the legalities.
Propagating with succulent leaves is super simple. As you’ll see in the video below, you just remove the leaves (no ripping or tearing) and air-dry them. The raw end will form a callus (dry up), and eventually tiny roots will form. This is the leaf’s way to try and find water. Very smart!
That’s your cue to set them in a pot of cactus/succulent soil (on the surface of the soil) and let them grow. Over time, babies will form from these new roots. The original mother leaf will gradually die off.
And that’s it. It’s frugal and easy.
Propagating Succulents from Cuttings
Another option is propagation from cuttings. Tall or leggy succulents can be trimmed and propagated in several ways.
This video below by Laura of Garden Answer shows it nicely.
Here’s the steps shown in the video
Keep in mind that every attempt at succulent propagation will not work. It’s not you, it’s them. Try lots and work the odds.
To remove the leaves
- Wiggle the leaves off the stem, moving them from side to side, twisting slightly until they pop off.
- If the leaf rips, it won’t be able to grow roots.
- Place the leaves on a dish for a few days in a sunny (not too bright) location.
- Allow a few days for the raw edges to form calluses (dry up). This step usually takes two days.
- Make sure the ends are dry before you move onto the next step.
To root the callused leaves
- Lay leaves on top of cactus/succulent soil in bright, indirect light.
- Water with a spray bottle or syringe.
- Check on them every other day and spritz them if dry.
- Roots will appear as the leaves look for water. This may take a few days or weeks. Be patient.
- Let it grow until a new succulent baby grows, then remove and plant it in its own pot.
- You can remove the mother leaf at this point or leave it in place to die off on its own.
To propagate from stems
- Allow the raw end to dry for a week, then place in soil.
Got one of the holiday cacti? See how to propagate Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter cacti here.
Indoor Succulent Care
What makes indoor succulents happy?
Here’s what works for mine.
I’ve got my collection of succulents on an east-facing window sill where they get approximately 6 hours of sun each day (depending on the time of year).
I let them dry somewhat between waterings and find they need a drink about every 1-2 weeks depending on how intense the heat is (and how dry the air in the house is). Winter can be brutal this way.
The goal when watering is to give the roots some moisture. My very scientific and effective test is to stick my finger in the soil. If it’s bone-dry one-inch below the surface, I water.
You’ll notice that succulents go through cycles. There will be growth spurts and dormant periods, and sometimes, like you’ll see here, flowers are produced.
I absolutely love succulent flowers. I know some people like to boost things with fertilizer but I don’t find it necessary. Things seem to go just fine on their own. Flowers form, last a few weeks, gradually drying out and going to seed. After that, the plant rests, and then cycles through again.
I like to check my succulents about once a week to be sure everybody is happy and see if there’s any babies to catch. This can be fallen leaves that are ready to root, tall or leggy sections that can be snipped off to form new plants, or babies that have sprouted in the soil and may benefit from transplanting to their own pots.
Also see: How often should I water my houseplants?
Bonus Cactus Tip
You can grow cacti and succulents together. Technically, cacti fall under the umbrella term succulent, but this group has some special requirements.
If you want to propagate cacti cuttings, use a bent piece of cardstock to handle the plant and avoid pricking your fingers.
- Needles + Leaves has a really good succulent propagation tutorial showing all of the stages of growth. Lots of good images of each phase.
- Succulent thumbnail gallery – helpful for plant identification.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛