How to Propagate Succulents

Lead Image
What You'll Need
Misting bottle
Garden hose with sprinkler/shower adapter
Existing succulent plants
Umbrella or cardboard

If you have succulents in your garden or home, then you already know that they're one of the easiest plants to grow. But did you know that they're also one of the easiest to transfer, spread, and propagate? If you want to get more bang for your buck from the succulents you already have, all you need is to do is pluck, tuck, and wait.


Succulent leaves laying on top of soil.

Most succulents have leaves on them, so we'll begin with how to start new baby succulents from this type. This involves either plucking or cutting off some of the lower leaves. To begin, choose a succulent that has large leaves near the bottom of the plant. Leggy plants with a long stem and not a lot of leaves near the bottom are not the best to propagate from, but this technique will work on any succulent, leggy or not.

Next, you can either pluck or use a sharp pair of clean scissors to break off the leaf as close to the stem as possible. This needs to be a clean cut or break. If it snaps off in a jagged pattern that wasn't close enough to the stem, it will likely not grow any roots, so be sure to snap it off as closely and as cleanly as possible from the stem.


A succulent clipping with roots growing out of it.

After you've plucked off a few leaves from your leafy succulents, lay them on top of a pot of soil—not tucking them in yet. (Any well-draining soil will be fine.) They should stay on top of your soil for 3-5 days as the cut end develops a callous. During this time, make sure they're not in direct sunlight. They shouldn't need any water, but if they or the soil looks extremely dry, you can lightly mist them with a water bottle.

After they've calloused over, you can tuck the calloused end into the soil, or you can wait a few more days until you see tiny new roots and leaves begin to form from it. Either way, make sure to mist them lightly with water once a day at this point. If you've allowed them to grow roots above the soil, you can let the leaf wither and fall off or you can carefully remove the dead leaf before planting the new baby succulent into the soil.


Propagating succulents.

Once you've planted your succulents, the time for doing nothing happens. All you can do now is wait for them to grow. This can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months depending on the type of succulent you are propagating from.

While it's growing, continue to keep it out of full sunlight for at least the first three weeks, and keep the soil slightly moist. Using a mister bottle is best so that you do not overwater the soil and cause the plant to rot and die. After a few weeks you can water them as you would your other succulents, which is usually every two weeks or once a month.

Propagating Stick or Finger Succulents

A close-up image of ice plants.

Succulents that do not have leaves and instead have what are called fingers or sticks, such as the variety known as blue chalk stick, are a bit easier to propagate. For these you only have to pluck or pull off one of the smaller sticks, normally toward the outside edge of the plant. Once pulled off, simply stick the broken end into dirt and keep it lightly watered for a few weeks—not soggy wet, but more water than you would normally give to a full-grown succulent.

Faster Ways to Grow Your Succulents

Other ways to get your succulents to spread or breed include transplanting pieces of them to areas where they can spread. To do this you'll want to take cuttings from a full-grown succulent that has itself spread enough that you can simply tear or cut it apart into pieces. It will be almost like cutting through a root carpet and you can use your hands or scissors to cut it apart.

Next, take your little succulent carpet pieces and lay them into place where you want them to begin spreading. The best time to do this is in the warmer months, when it's not too cold. Prepare the ground by raking up any grass or weeds so that only the dirt is exposed. This makes it easy for the new planting to take root and spread. You can lay these pieces six to twelve inches apart and they will eventually grow together and fill in the area.

Once the pieces have been transplanted, water them daily with a sprinkler or shower adapter on your hose for the first week, and then a few times a week for the first month. If the weather is very hot and the sun is full on these new forming patches, you may want to find a way to cover them for the first few days. Using an umbrella or a piece of cardboard to give them shade will work fine.

If you're not totally sure which technique to use for propagation, experiment with both methods. Keep in mind that not every attempt will take root, but at least a few will, so don't lose faith in your process if the first try doesn't work.