Want to Propagate Succulents? – You have Multiple Options!

Are you planning to create a succulent garden? Are you wondering how to plant and grow succulents? If you are, let’s discuss today the various methods of propagating succulents. Fortunately, they are more than one; so, you have various options so if one fails you can try another. It’s also fortunate, that succulents are pretty easy to propagate vegetatively i.e. they can be propagated just by using their parts like leaves, stems or offsets! No need to bring male and female sex cells together and create a new offspring.

Propagation by Offsets

Succulents are amazing plants in that they use various means to recreate themselves including producing flowers and then seeds. One of these is offsets. Offsets are also known as pups, offshoots, suckers or side shoots. They are miniature versions of the parent plant. They are genetically identical to their parent plant. Regarding when these offsets grow, there is no fixed rule applying to all species. But in general, all succulents grow these babies when they are in their active growing phase, which is usually spring and summer months, although a few also grow them in fall and winter, while some species like Sempervivum (hens and chicks) produce offsets year-round. Usually, succulents take a few years to mature before producing pups. Young plants use their energy to grow a strong root system and establish themselves before utilizing that energy into reproduction.

Offsets generally grow at the base of the plant. Sometimes they even grow from nodes (the growing points of leaves and buds). These offsets or pups can become new plants by growing their own root system and other plant parts.

However, remember that not all succulents grow offsets. But succulents like Sedum, Crassula ovata, Kalanchoe, Aloe vera, Agave, Haworthia, Gasteria, Echeveria and Sempervivum (hens and chicks) grow offsets. If you are a beginner, take a plant like Kalanchoe daigremontiana or Pink Butterfly Kalanchoe so the positive and surefire results can boost your confidence. These plants grow offsets on the edges of their leaves, unlike the usual location at the base of the plant.

If you have to divide offsets from the plant’s base, just brush away the topsoil until you see the roots. Now gently pull the offsets apart. Try to preserve as many roots as you can. You may find that some offsets have their own root system fully developed. These are mature offsets and are easy to detach, rather they are already detached. But if an offset is not that mature and still is connected to the parent plant, don’t worry! Take a clean, sharp knife and cut it apart. Brush off the old soil from its roots and let it dry out for a day or two in a warm, dry, well-lit place (but not under direct light). Once it’s calloused and healed, take a small planter with a hole at the base for good drainage and fill the planter with well-draining succulent soil. Make a small hole in the soil with your finger or a stick and plant the calloused offset in it. Bury it just deep enough to let it stand erect. Make sure, the roots are in touch of the soil.

While watering the newly planted offsets, take care to water lightly and avoid overwatering, as it has the risk of root rot. A golden rule is to wait for the upper soil layer to dry out before watering again. Provide your growing baby plenty of indirect light until it establishes roots (this may take weeks). Once its roots are established, move it to a brighter spot and water as normal.hens and chicks offsets

Propagating with Leaf Cuttings

Propagating succulents from leaf cuttings is a surprisingly easy and rewarding process. It works really well on species with plump, fleshy leaves like Echeveria. Just choose a healthy parent plant for a successful propagation. Then choose a healthy leaf and gently remove it from the parent plant. Here a clean break is very important, and therefore choosing a plant like Echeveria with plump, fleshy leaves is important because such leaves come off cleanly. Wiggle leaf to and fro until it’s detached naturally. Make sure the break is clean at the leaf’s base. While some leaves will come right off just with a gentle tug, others may need a sharp knife. Your hands should be clean and the knife should be sterile. Make sure an entire, undamaged leaf is removed.

Further you’ve to allow callous formation. For this, place the detached leaves in a shaded, dry indoor spot for a couple of days to let the cut ends to callous. Callousing will help prevent rot when you’d plant the leaves in the soil.

For planting, choose a specialized succulent or cactus soil mix to optimum success. You can even create your own by mixing the regular potting soil with sand or perlite. Choose a shallow tray or pot and fill it with the chosen medium to propagate leaves.

Watering at this stage should be done carefully. Just mist the soil lightly or water with a watering can with a fine spout to just dampen the soil without saturating the soil. Overwatering can cause rot.

When to transplant the propagated leaves? Well, it’s easy! Just keep observing and when you’ll find a substantial root system and a cluster of leaves developed on them, it’s time for transplantation. Gently remove them from the tray and transplant into their individual pots.

Gently place the calloused end of the leaf into the pot you’ve prepared for transplantation. Bury around half an inch making sure the leaf makes good contact with the soil. If you plan to transplant multiple leaves, remember to place them with adequate space between them to avoid overcrowding.

Your newly transplanted leaves will need moisture and warmth. Place them in a warm place with plenty of bright light; but avoid direct sun and mist them with a spray bottle when the soil is dry.

Regarding when the leaves will develop roots, you’ll have to exercise patience. Over time (depending on the species you’ve chosen), the leaves will develop tiny roots from the leaves’ bases and new rosettes will start forming!

Propagation Mandala - propagating multiple leaves

Propagating with Stem Cuttings

Propagating with stem cuttings is the best method for plants with branches or rosette-shaped succulents stretched out on a long stem. The chances of getting success are the highest when done on succulents that are either about to start their active growth period (normally spring) or have just finished their dormancy (usually winter months).

To take the cutting, you’ll need a sharp, sterilized knife or razor blade. Select a relatively short stem to make sure it’s active and growing. Hold the stem as close to the base as you can, and with your knife or razor blade make a clear cut from the parent plant. If the stem is damaged during this process, you may need a new cutting. The branch will take around four days to heal before it’s repotted. Once repotted, provide the plant plenty of bright light and light watering. It’ll soon root itself in the new planter.

Propagating with Seeds

You can also propagate succulents with seeds. Seeds of most succulents are contained in their fruits (swollen bases of flowers); so, you can collect them when the plant is done with flowering. Sometimes, the seeds will be like an orange-colored dust which may be a bit difficult to propagate with. Whether you have collected seeds from a mature plant or have bought them, always use, fresh, dry seeds at the start of the spring to offer them a long growing period before winter dormancy.

Once you get the seeds, soak them in warm water for around 30 minutes to loosen up their seed coat. Prepare a planter with cactus or succulent soil mix and water it thoroughly. Once the seeds are soaked and softened, spread them on top of the soil in the planter. Keep adequate spaces between them to allow proper growth. Then cover them with a light layer of sand or sifted cactus/succulent soil, without burying them. Mist the seeds daily with a spray bottle, just allowing the top surface of the soil to dry out between waterings.

Place the planter in a warm environment, anywhere between 75-degree and 80-degree F. To keep the seeds moist and warm, you can create a greenhouse effect by covering the planter with clear plastic of some type (a ziplock bag, plastic bucket). The seeds will keep warm and moist due to this. This is also a great option for those who live in dry and cold climates. The seeds will germinate in around two weeks and after around six weeks, you should be able to water around every other day.

succulent seedlings
Propagating succulents is a fun activity which offers you the opportunity to witness how the succulent passes through the various phases of growth and finally becomes a fully grown plant. Don’t miss this opportunity. Propagate a succulent and enjoy!

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