How to Propagate Succulents


What is Succulent Propagation?

Tools You Will Need

Easy Succulents to Propagate

Callusing Over

Leaf Propagation

Stem Propagation

Offset Division Propagation

Cactus Propagation





What is Succulent Propagation?


With thousands of varieties readily available to choose from, succulents have become popular plants to grow in the home and garden because of their uniqueness in growth patterns and the minimal care they require.


Succulent propagation is the act of vegetatively reproducing an identical plant either through cuttings or the division of offsets from the parent plant. It can not only be a fun hobby, but also can serve as a way to rescue a dying plant from disease or a lack of proper care. You’ll also be rewarded with free plants!


Succulents have evolved to reproduce easily as a way to preserve themselves in the arid environments they originate in. Propagating succulents significantly speeds up the growing process because they are naturally slow growers and growing from seeds can take a very long time.



Tools You Will Need



Easy Succulents to Propagate


Since succulents grow in a number of growth patterns, propagation techniques will vary depending on the species. Here are some fun succulents that can be propagated easily.


Best for Leaf Propagation


Best for Stem Propagation


Best for Offset Division



Callusing Over


After making any cuts to your plants, allow the plant to sit out until the wound where the cut was made calluses over. This can take anywhere from a couple days to a couple of weeks, depending on the size of the plant. A columnar cactus cutting will take longer than a cutting from a small, soft succulent due to the larger area that needs to heal. Keep the cuttings in a dry, shaded area until the cut has calloused over. If a callus is not formed before being potted, the cutting can run the risk of rotting from the moisture and microbes in the soil.



Leaf Propagation


Succulent leaf propagation is the practice of growing an entirely new plant from a healthy leaf removed from a plant. This occurs naturally in the wild when a succulent’s leaves fall off.

Leaf producing new plant

Many succulent leaves are delicate and can be easily removed from the main stem with just a few wiggles. However, pruners can be used as well. When removing leaves, try to remove the entire leaf without damaging the tip that attaches to the stem. This is where the new growth will form when propagating.


Leaf propagation naturally occurs where a succulent drops its leaves on the ground in its natural environment.

Don’t be alarmed if the leaf you are propagating begins to shrivel and die. This is a natural process. Once new growth begins to form at the end of the leaf, the parent leaf will die off after giving all of its water and nutrients to the new plant.



Leaf Propagation Steps:

Step 1: Fill a shallow tray with a coarse material such as perlite or sand 1-2 inches deep.


Step 2: Place the tray on the warming mat.


Step 3: Gently remove leaves from the parent plant. Use sharp pruners to cut the leaf off if it does not remove easily by hand.


Step 4: Lay the leaf cuttings on top of the coarse material in the propagation tray.


Step 5: Place the entire tray in a dry, shaded location.


Step 6: Keep under a grow light or bright, indirect light for at least eight hours a day.


Step 7: Wait for small roots, followed by a new plant to grow from the tips of each leaf.


Step 8: Leave the entire parent leaf and offspring attached. The parent leaf will die and fall off naturally.


Step 9: Once the new plant has formed its own roots and the parent leaf has died off, plant the new plant in a clay pot with coarse soil designed for succulents.


Step 10: Place cactus in partial, morning sun outside or a windowsill that gets at least 8 hours a day of sunlight.


Step 11: Lightly water the plant until it establishes strong roots. Water only when the soil completely dries out.



Stem Propagation


Some succulents can grow long, leggy stems. If their stems get to be too long and are crowding out their space, they can be cut back as far as you desire to promote shorter, fuller growth. Within a few weeks, the part that was removed will regrow at the point where the cut was made. The top that was cut off can then be propagated following the steps below.


Stem Propagation Steps:

Step 1: Fill a shallow tray with a coarse material such as perlite or sand deep enough to bury the stem in. Depth will vary depending on the size of the cutting.


Step 2: With a sharp knife or pruners, make a clean cut straight across a stem of the parent plant.


Step 3: Remove any lower leaves ensuring there is at least 1” of stem.


Step 4: Lay the top part that was cut off in a dry, shaded location until the end has dried and calloused over.


Step 5: Dip the end of the stem in the rooting hormone.


Step 6: Bury the stem in the tray with the coarse potting material. Gently pack the soil around the stem.


Step 7: Keep under a grow light or bright, indirect light for at least eight hours a day.


Step 8: Wait 1-2 weeks for roots to form. Gently tugging on the stem will tell you if roots have formed. If the stem easily slips out of the soil, replant and wait another week. If there is no give when tugging, the plant has likely formed roots.


Step 9: When rooted, gently dig up the rooted cutting ensuring no roots are damaged by digging at least 2” in diameter around the stem.


Step 10: Plant the stem cutting in a clay pot with coarse soil designed for succulents.


Step 11: Place cactus in partial, morning sun outside or a windowsill that gets at least 8 hours a day of sunlight.


Step 12: Lightly water the plant until it establishes strong roots. Water only when the soil completely dries out.



Offset Division Propagation


Many types of succulents can produce offsets that are directly attached to the parent plant, creating a clustered growth form. Each of these offsets can be divided from the parent plant as soon as they form, but you will have more success by keeping the offsets attached to the parent plant until they develop their own roots.


Haworthia cluster
Haworthia cluster divided

Some succulents, such as Snake Plants, will produce offsets that are attached to the parent plant by an underground stem called a rhizome. The rhizome is where the roots form. This rhizome must be cut in half to remove the offset from the parent plant. Keeping part of the rhizome on the parent plant and part on the offset will allow both to continue producing roots from it.


Snake plant rhizome

Some succulents are unable to produce seeds and instead reproduce themselves by forming plantlets along their leaf margins as shown here on the Kalanchoe ‘Mother of Thousands’. These plantlets can be individually removed and potted, but the plant will naturally drop them onto the soil below, eventually creating a large mat of plants.

Kalanchoe 'Mother of Thousands'


Division Propagation Steps:

Plants without a rhizome:


Step 1: Determine if the offsets have produced their own roots or not.


Step 2: If the offset has its own roots separate from the mother plant, gently pull the offset away from the parent plant, ensuring the roots are not damaged.


Step 3: Plant the rooted offset in a clay pot with coarse soil designed for succulents.


Step 4: Lightly water the plant until it establishes strong roots. Water only when the soil completely dries out.



Plants with a rhizome (Sansevierias):


Step 1: If attached by a rhizome, pull the entire parent plant with offsets attached out of the pot.


Step 2: Gently massage the soil away from the rhizome and smaller roots.



Step 3: Make a clean cut through the middle of the rhizome using a sharp knife or pruners.


Step 4: Let both the offset and parent plant lay out in a dry, shaded location until both ends have calloused over.


Step 5: Pot both the parent plant and offsets into clay pots with succulent specific soil.


Step 6: Place cactus in partial, morning sun outside or a windowsill that gets at least 8 hours a day of sunlight.


Step 7: Lightly water the plant until it establishes strong roots. Water only when the soil completely dries out.



Cactus Propagation


Clumping Cacti

Although cacti can look very different from other types of succulents, the propagation techniques are similar. Some cacti will produce a clumping form. These clumps can be separated through division as described above. Simply pull apart each individual cactus and pot it up in a clay pot with coarse soil designed for succulents.


Thelocactus seedling clump


Cactus Division Steps

Step 1: Determine if the offsets have produced their own roots or not.


Step 2: If the offset has its own roots separate from the mother plant, gently pull the offset away from the parent plant, ensuring the roots are not damaged.


Step 3: Plant the rooted offset in a clay pot with coarse soil designed for succulents.


Step 4: Place cactus in partial, morning sun outside or a windowsill that gets at least 8 hours a day of sunlight.


Step 4: Lightly water the plant until it establishes strong roots. Water only when the soil completely dries out.



Columnar Cacti

The tall, skinny columns of a columnar cactus are actually the cactus’ leaves. Each column can be topped by making a clean cut, straight across the column. This promotes branching if a column looks to be a risk from falling over or is getting too tall.