Succulent plants are as lovely as they are easy to grow. The best part is that its leaves and stem provide an endless number of identical plants through simple propagation. Growing succulents from clippings is both fun and rewarding. They grow quickly and with minimal effort, and the resulting plants make great gifts and lively home decor. A well-clipped leaf or stem is practically all a gardener needs to grow an entirely new succulent with success.
Propagating from a Leaf Clipping
It is easy to remove a succulent leaf from a healthy plant without disrupting its appearance or hindering its growth. Also, when a succulent has grown “leggy,” with a long stem that some growers dislike, they can separate each of the plant’s many leaves and grow them into new plants.
Prepare the Soil
Prepare a new pot or tray of cactus or succulent soil. Cactus or succulent soil must provide good drainage. A mixture of equal parts cactus potting soil and perlite works well. It need not be more than a couple inches deep for the beginning stage. An aluminum baking pan works well for propagating several new plants at once.
Clip or Pluck a Leaf
Gardeners can pluck succulent leaves from an existing plant by hand or cut them with a metal tool. A sharp knife, razor blade, or pruning shears work well. It is important to sterilize a metal tool first to prevent infection in the plant or leaf. Cut as close to the stem as possible, and take care not to bruise the leaf or stem. To pluck by hand, rock the leaf gently from side to side until it comes loose. Some leaves loosen very easily, which makes hand-plucking a popular method.
Let the Leaves Dry
Lay the fresh leaf cuttings down flat on the surface of the soil mix, and place the container in bright, indirect sunlight. Let the leaves dry out for a few days before adding any water. This is an important step because watering them immediately can easily cause them to rot. It also allows time for the “wound” from cutting to callous over, preventing disease from sinking in.
Let Roots Develop
Once they have sufficiently dried and calloused, some people start moistening the soil regularly, while others give the leaves more time to grow on their own. In humid environments, the leaves may not require any water at all. In a dry climate or a house with dry air conditioning, it is a good idea to water sparingly but consistently. An effective method is to add a sprinkle of water to the pot whenever the soil has completely dried out. After anywhere from a few weeks to a month, tiny roots, and possibly the leaves of a new baby plant, emerge from the cut end of the leaves.
Help the Roots Find the Soil
Sometimes the roots grow down into the soil on their own, and sometimes they grow into the air and need a little help. In the latter situation, form a small divot in the soil, and gently cover the roots with a tiny layer of soil. Use a spray bottle to add a light spritz of water about once a week from this point.
Separate and Enjoy
Within about a month or so, gardeners should see new growth on the planted cutting. At this point, it is safe to place each in its own pot or mix them into an arrangement for a garden setting. Once a succulent reaches maturity, it only needs watering once every few weeks.
Propagating from a Stem
When a succulent plant gets leggy from lack of light, an easy method for salvaging the plant is to “behead” it and propagate new plants both from the head and the stem. This process is identical to propagating from leaf cuttings.
Cut the rosette off the top with a sterile instrument, and let the cutting dry and callous. Water sparingly until roots emerge, and then simply let nature take its course. The remaining stem should grow new plantlets on its own. Growers can then cut and propagate these as well.
- Succulentopedia: Browse succulents by Scientific Name, Common Name, Genus, Family, USDA Hardiness Zone, Origin, or cacti by Genus
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