Learning how to propagate succulents at home means reducing the number of succulents you need to buy.
Making new plants from your existing ones will save you money, growing your collection for free. It can also help you to avoid bringing extra plastic pots or packaging into your home. The more you can take a DIY approach and do things yourself at home, the closer you can move to a truly sustainable, zero-waste lifestyle.
In this guide, we will take you step by step through the simple process involved in propagating succulents. This is a strategy that can be employed with a huge range of different succulent plants.
How Succulents are Propagated
Most succulent plants are propagated though cuttings or through offsets. The type of cutting that is taken varies depending on which succulents you are dealing with. Sometimes leaf cuttings are taken, and sometimes stem cuttings. The particular plants you select will determine which of these you will take.
Often, taking a succulent cutting will simply involve taking a clean and well-sharpened blade and snipping off some of the fleshy leaves, perhaps along with a portion of stem. While you may well be able to take more than one cutting at one time from a mature plant, it is best to make sure you do not take too many portions of the plant at one time as this may weaken or put too much stress on the original.
Sometimes, things are even simpler and smaller offsets will naturally develop close to the mature plant. This is true, for example, for succulents which form rosettes, like aloe and echeveria. In these cases, propagation is simply a matter of carefully cutting these away from the mature plant.
Propagating Succulents – Step By Step
Though propagating most succulents really could not be easier, there are a few steps to take to make sure that your cuttings or offsets root successfully. So let’s take a look at the simple process, step by step.
1. Allowing Cuttings or Offsets to Form a Callus
As soon as you have cut and gathered your leaf/ stem cuttings or little offsets, you cannot just plonk these into soil or s growing medium right away. Instead, you have to wait for the cut section of the succulent sections to form a callus. In other words, you need to wait for it to harden or dry and scab over.
A callus over the wound protects it from rot or disease. It is important to let the hardened callus form before your succulent cuttings are exposed to water or damp. Place your cuttings on a sunny windowsill or another light and dry place for a week or so before you proceed to the next step in the process.
2. Choosing a Suitable Potting Mix
It is important to choose a potting mix specifically designed for succulents, with good drainage. The type of container you choose is also important, as that can determine how successfully water will escape and how warm it will be.
3. Placing Cuttings or Offsets in Their New Containers
As soon as your succulent cuttings have developed their callus, you can next place them on top of a suitable potting mix in your chosen pots or containers. Place these in a suitable location. (Make sure you take into account the temperature, light and other environmental needs of the particular succulents you have chosen to propagate.)
4. Waiting for New Root Systems To Form
After you have placed your new succulents into the top of your containers, on the suitable potting mix you have chosen for them, you should water a little, around once a week (depending on variety) and wait patiently for little roots to develop. The length of time that it will take for succulent cuttings to root will depend at least in part on which variety of succulent you are propagating.
With some cuttings, you will know that they have rooted successfully when you pull very gently on the cutting and it does not come away but is held in the growing medium to a degree. Some time later, you may see new leaves forming on the cuttings, and withering of the original leaf. Once the original leaf has withered, you can remove it.
5. Potting Up Your New Plants
Once your succulent cutting has formed some roots, you can pot up each of your new plants. Be sure to place each plant into a pot or container filled with the same medium in which it was previously grown. As this will lessen any type of transplantation shock and reduce the amount of stress on your plants.
Watering and environmental needs will of course vary depending on which succulents you are growing. But as a general rule of thumb, succulents in pots should be placed somewhere where they receive indirect but relatively bright light which is received for at least 6 hours each day. And should be watered weekly, taking care to be light-handed and consistent.
6. Placing Your New Succulents in Their Final Growing Positions
After they have been left to establish in their new pots or containers for a few weeks, your succulents should be rooted and growing strong. At this point, you can consider placing them in their final growing location – whether in larger containers, inside your home or outside, in an undercover growing area such as a greenhouse or polytunnel, or in garden beds or borders.
Slightly different processes are followed (and different cuttings taken) for different succulents. But as you can see from the above, it is rather easy and straightforward to make new succulents from those you already grow. So as soon as you have purchased your first few succulents, you can easily grow your collection over time.
A permaculture garden designer, sustainability consultant and freelance writer, Elizabeth works as an advocate for positive change. She aims to inspire others to reconnect with nature and live in a more eco-friendly way. She also tries to practice what she preaches as she tends her own forest garden, polyculture beds and polytunnel. See her personal website here.