How to propagate succulents

Image via PickPik

Everybody loves succulents. I mean, how could you not? They’re striking plants that come in every shape and size. They’re low maintenance and they really are the gift that keeps on giving. I don’t mean that figuratively. I mean they’re so prolific in their reproduction that they just keep producing more and more succulents. Propagating succulents is not only a great way to expand your collection and create clones of the plants you already know and love. It’s also a way of sharing your plants with people you care about. In this post, I’ll be walking you through different propagation methods.

Before I get stuck into it, though, I must highlight that when I say “remove a leaf” I mean remove the entire leaf from its based to the tip. The growth node, from which the new plant will emerge, is located at the very base off the leaf, and must be removed intact in order to ensure that propagation is successful. Notice that this method can reliably be used in most cases, but does not work for (or has low success rates for) Aloe, Gasteria and Haworthia. As a general rule of thumb (though there are exceptions), if the succulent has small, fleshy leaves, it will work. There are definitely other methods, which I will cover in my post. I also have a post about caring for and decorating with succulents in general, which you can find here.

1. Air propagation

Air propagation involves taking a leaf off of a mother plant and simply leaving it to sit for a time until it produces roots, at which point, they should be put into soil. Some succulents will produce small “plant-lets” from the leaf before they produce roots, often resulting in adorable baby succulents emerging before you have to put them in soil (Part of the reason why this is my favourite method).

The first leaves of a plantlet emerging
Further emergence
A Rosette shape eventually forms
Pot up when roots emerge. Do not snap leaves off, this photo was just taken when after all the leaves fell off naturally.

The air propagation method also works for cuttings. Succulent cuttings work on larger succulents which have stems that can be cut without compromising the structural integrity of the entire plant. Think Crassulae and Aeonia. Simply cut a section of the plant off below the node and watch it take root. That being said, I usually recommend soil propagation for these.

2. Soil propagation

Some succulent leaves and pups propagating on my bathroom floor

Soil propagation, as you can tell by the subheading and image, is essentially just putting leaves or cuttings in some soils and waiting for a new plant to emerge. It is important to keep the soil moist but not wet throughout this process in order to encourage root growth. This method is my recommended method for cuttings and pups.

Pups are the little baby plants that Aloe, Haworthia and Gasteria (among other succulents) produce. They emerge as their own separate plants with a root system connected to the mother plant, however, it is best to wait until they’re a decent size (the size will depend on the plant) to remove them from the mother plant.

Aloe Vera pups that I just potted up today

3. Water propagation

When it comes to water propagation, I see this done most often with cuttings, rather than leaves. This is because leaves easily become submerged in water, causing them to rot. Water propagation is performed by taking a cutting, waiting for the cutting to dry out and “scab over” to avoid rot, and then submerging growth nodes in water to encourage rooting. I personally prefer not to do this because water roots have a hard time adjusting to soil, and succulents root so easily in soil that I see no reason to put them in water in the first place, especially since in the long run, being in soil will do the plants more good than being in water. However, these can look really great as temporary rustic decorations in mason jars.

Image via Terrain

Published by plantboye

Tech illiterate and pretending to be proud of it.

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