Some people hear “Propagation” they assume propagating is going to be a difficult and time-consuming process. However, if you follow some of our tips you’ll enjoy a thriving succulent collection before you know it. You have nothing to lose. At the end of the day, these succulent plants will give you so much more then they take.
In fact, it’s so easy you can’t fail. You hear that? YOU CANNOT FAIL!!!!
Remove the lower leaves. Chop the remaining rosette from the stem. Let all the parts dry out and create a callous after they’ve been removed, Place on top of soil until roots and baby plants start forming
Now that you’ve removed the lower leaves, you should be left with a small rosette on a short stem. Cut the rosette off with a sharp pair of scissors or a knife. Don’t discard the rosette or the pot with the stem though because they’ll both be back for round two.
Next, you to do… nothing. That’s right, absolutely nothing. You just need to sit tight and wait for your amputated plant parts to dry out and create a callous where they’ve been removed. Planting the leaves immediately will mean they don’t have a chance to heal and will rot in the soil. Leave out to dry for approximately a week.
These plants will be calloused over it’s time to place the leaves on top of the soil. Not in, just on top. They’ll need lots of indirect sunlight and precious little else. After a few weeks you’ll see pink tendrils or roots sprouting from the ends which will soon turn into baby plants – at this point, mist with water every other day to keep the soil moist and the babies fed.
When Do You Propagate?
If you have a succulent that is starting to look leggy, now is the time to propagate. What’s a leggy succulent, you ask? Sadly, it’s not a plant that looks like Heidi Klum. It happens when a succulent isn’t getting enough light and starts to stretch out, with a woody stem and widely spaced leaves.
Propagating with stem cuttings works best with plants that have “branches” or rosette-shaped succulents that have stretched out on a long stem. This process is most successful if done when the succulent is about to begin its active growth period, either at the end of a dormant period (usually winter months) or at the beginning of a growth period (usually spring months) to give the succulent the best chance for survival.
After the stems have calloused, fill a shallow tray with well-draining cactus/succulent soil and place the cuttings on top. Within a few weeks, roots and tiny plants will begin to grow from the base of the cuttings. Water minimally until the roots appear, then approximately once a week; be careful to avoid overwatering. Eventually, the “parent” leaf will wither and you can remove it carefully, being sure to not damage the new roots.
Avoid placing them in direct sun until the plants are established.
Many species of succulents will produce offsets or small plants that grow at the base of the main specimen. Once an offset has grown for 2-3 weeks, check for root development and remove it from the main stem with a sharp knife or snips, or by twisting gently. Be careful to avoid damaging any roots that have already emerged. Follow the steps above for propagating in soil or water, allowing the offsets to dry, form a callous over any open areas, and develop roots before repotting. As a bonus, removing offsets also improves the health of your existing succulents, returning energy to the growth of the main plant.
Often new succulents sprout from leaves. This technique works best with plants that have grown too leggy. To begin, carefully remove any leaves on the stem below the rosette. Gently wiggle the leaf gently from side to side and make sure to keep the base of intact. Once all the leaves have been removed, allow them to dry for a few days in an empty tray until the raw ends have calloused. Within three weeks or so, little roots will begin to sprout as well as small rosettes! It could take a few months before a succulent gets big enough for repotting (photos above are after about 8 weeks). You’ll know it’s time when the leaf eventually turns brown and falls off. This means the succulent has taken all of the nutrients from the leaf and no longer needs it.
To take a proper cutting from a succulent, you’ll need a sharp, sterilized knife or razor blade. Choose a stem that is relatively short to ensure it is active and growing, hold the stem as close to the base as possible, then use your knife or razor blade to cut it cleanly from the parent plant. If the stem is damaged at all during this process, you’ll likely need a new cutting. The branch will need to heal for about four days before it is repotted. Once repotted, give the plant plenty of bright light and barely water, and it will root itself in its new planter in about four weeks.
Rosette-shaped succulents can also be propagated with stem cuttings when they begin to grow a long stem from maturity or lack of sunlight. The rosette can be cut off with a sharp, sterile knife, leaving a short stem to enable repotting. Allow the cut rosette to callous for about four days to prevent rotting and disease when it’s repotted. The long stem from which the rosette was removed will continue to form new leaves, so leave it potted or planted as it was, and barely water until new growth appears from the stem.
Propagating succulents with seeds is typically the slowest way to grow new plants, but if you have the time and patience, give it a try! Seeds of mature plants are located in the swollen base of the flower (AKA the “fruit”), and they can be collected when the succulent is done flowering. In some instances, the seed will be an orange-colored dust, which can be slightly more difficult to propagate with. Whether collecting seeds from a mature plant or buying seeds to use, always use fresh, dry seeds at the beginning of spring to give them a long growing period before winter dormancy.
First, prepare a planter with cactus/succulent soil, water it thoroughly, then soak your seeds in warm water for about 30 minutes to loosen up the seed coat. Once soaked and softened, spread the seeds on top of the prepared soil, keeping spaces between them to allow growth. Next, cover the seeds with just enough “top dressing,” like sand or sifted cactus/succulent soil, without burying them. Use a spray bottle to water the seeds daily with a fine mist, only allowing the top surface to dry out between waterings.
Keep the planter in a warm environment, anywhere from 75-80ºF. A fun trick is to cover the planter with a clear plastic of some kind (ziplock bag, plastic bucket) to create a greenhouse effect. This will keep the seeds moist and warm, and it’s a great option for those in cool or dry climates. The seeds will begin to germinate in about two weeks, and after about six weeks, you should be able to water about every other day.
Avoid getting these wet until the plants are established.
Now that you have a basic understanding of the different methods of propagation, you can experiment! Be patient if you’re just learning to propagate succulents, as there is always a bit of a learning curve. While we aim to provide you with the best information possible to be successful, every individual will have different experiences when propagating. The more you practice, the more likely you’ll be successful!
Old-hand gardeners know for best success indoor cactus and succulent plants require a certain amount of neglect.
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