Succulent Propagation: A Beginner’s Guide To Creating New Plants

While succulents are known for the ease with which they can be cared for what you might not realize is though is that they are also one of the easiest plants to propagate. That said though if you’ve never propagated a plant before it can be a little daunting which is why I decided to write this article. As a seasoned succulent grower (and avid propagator) I wanted to pass on some of the things I’ve learned over the years.

Being xerophyte plants (meaning they don’t like a lot of water) succulents can pretty much be left to their own devices once you’ve started the propagation process.

What is propagation?

Propagation is just a fancy name for creating new plants from another ‘parent’ plant. This is actually a natural process that happens ‘in the wild’ when a leaf drops off of a plant, falls to the ground, and starts to develop roots of its own.

Being a natural process it means that, if you give the leaf (or cutting) the best start, you’ll have a healthy new plant in next to no time.

Which parts of a succulent can be propagated?

Unlike a lot of other plants, you can propagate most parts of a succulent, including the roots. The most common parts used for propagation though are leaves, stems, and offsets (sometimes called pups, chicks, or plantlets).

Of course, you can also propagate succulents from seeds but because seeds normally come in packets that have instructions I’ve decided to leave this method out of the article.

Whichever part of the part you decide to propagate it’s crucial that the parent plant is healthy and well-hydrated (but not overwatered). The reason for this is because the cutting will be much healthier and easier to grow. It will also speed up the growing time as the cuttings will have plenty of nutrients.

Leaves, stems and offsets of succulents can all be propagated

When is the best time to propagate a succulent?

If you’re able to give your propagated plant plenty of light (although not direct sunlight) and a warm place to grow then you can propagate a succulent at any time of year. That said though it’s best to do so during your plant’s natural grown season.

Winter dormant succulents are best propagated during the spring and summer as this is when they’re growing. Conversely, summer dormant plants (those that grow during the winter) are best propagated during the fall and winter months. 

How do you propagate succulent leaves?

You can propagate a succulent both from leaves that have fallen off or from those that you’ve cut off. Whichever way it’s important to make sure the leaf isn’t a yellowy translucent color as this will mean it’s been overwatered and isn’t suitable for propagation. For the sake of this article though we’ll presume you’ll be cutting the leaf as this is the most common method.

1) Remove the leaf

You can either gently pull the leaf (by gently twisting and pulling it) off or you can use a sharp sterile knife to make a clean cut as close to the stem as possible. Personally, I prefer to cut the leaf (or leaves) but if you do make sure you don’t cut the stem itself.

2) Leave to callous

After you’ve removed the leaf or leaves you need to leave it in a warm, dry, and bright place so that it can dry out and form a callous. This will take anywhere from a day to five days to happen but it’s an important stage because it will prevent root rot from developing in the new roots.

3) Place on damp soil

When I first began propagating my succulents I started by planting the cut end of the leaf in soil but after a few dead leaves (and no new plant to show for it), I decided to ask a local nursery for advice. They told me that you shouldn’t place the cut leaf in the soil but instead put it on top of slightly damp succulent or cactus soil. This will allow the leaf to take the moisture it needs without being oversaturated.

4) Mist the leaves

If the soil does get dry (more common in hot climates) then you can lightly mist the soil and the leaves. You shouldn’t need to do this too often but when you do it’s better to give it less water than it needs. After all, you can always give it more water later but you can’t take it away if you’ve given it too much.

5) Transfer to a pot

After around eight weeks the leaf will have started to develop roots and will be strong enough to be transferred to a new pot with well-draining soil.

If you’re not sure if your succulent is ready to be moved to a new pot look at the base of the leaf. Is there a tiny little succulent growing there? Is the leaf brown in color and has it shriveled up? Has the leaf become detached from the baby succulent? If you answer yes to all of those questions then it’s time to repot your new succulent.

Not sure what pot to use? What to look for when choosing a pot for your succulent.

Once you have a tiny little succulent you can repot it in a new planter

How do you propagate succulent stems?

Just like propagating succulent leaves, the parent part should be healthy and properly hydrated. You should also consider the condition of the stem, ideally, it should be strong enough to support itself.

1) Cut the stem

Some succulents have multiple stems that you can take cuttings from but if not then you need to make a cut that’s at least three inches down from the top. Whatever stem you’re cutting you should do it with a sharp, sterile blade and make as clean a cut as possible.

If you want to keep the parent plant then make sure you leave enough of the stem (and leaves) for that to continue growing.

2) Let the stem dry out

Just as with leaf cuttings, stems also need to be left to callous over for a few days. This will give them the best chance of taking root and growing into healthy succulents.

3) Remove the lower leaves

Once the stem has been calloused, and before you plant it, you should remove the leaves from the bottom two inches. This will ensure there’s enough of the stem to allow you to plant it in the soil and to allow it to support itself.

4) Plant in damp soil

While the stem needs to be completely dry the soil you plant it in should be slightly damp so that the stem can take the water it needs without drowning in it. After planting the stem you should place it in an area where it’ll get plenty of natural (but not direct) light. The reason for this is that new growth is sensitive to sunlight and can easily burn.

5) Repot the stem

Once the roots have grown a few inches (typically after six to eight weeks) you can repot the stem in a bigger planter with well-draining soil.

Stem cuttings are perfect for succulent propagation

How do you propagate succulent offsets?

Offsets are often the easiest of all cuttings to propagate because the parent plant has already done most of the work as the offset will already have leaves and, in some cases, will also have its own roots. While mature offsets will already have developed their own roots for the purposes of this article I’ll presume it doesn’t and is a new offset, although for mature offsets you can just skip the first two steps.

1) Remove the offset

If your succulent is healthy (and is a species that produces offsets) and has produced at least one offset you can carefully remove it with a sharp knife. Be sure to remove as much of the stem as possible, carefully brushing away the topsoil if necessary.

2) Allow to callous

As is the case with other cuttings, you should leave the offset to callous as this will help it to grow its own roots. 

3) Plant the offset

Once the offset has calloused over it’s time to plant it in fresh, well-draining soil. This can easily be done by making a small hole (roughly the same size as the stem) and carefully pushing the offset into it. 

4) Transfer to a larger pot

After around six weeks the offset will have developed enough roots to allow it to be transferred to a bigger pot. This will give it more space to grow and before you know it you’ll have an adult succulent.

Succulent offsets can easily be propagated

Should you use a rooting hormone when propagating succulents?

The jury is out when it comes to the use of a rooting hormone when propagating succulents. Many people rate it and won’t propagate without it while others refuse to use it.  Of course, it will give your new plant a healthy start but if you’ve prepared it properly then it shouldn’t need it.

Personally, I don’t use it and have never had any problems with my plants but that doesn’t mean to say it doesn’t have its merits.

If you do, however, choose to use a rooting hormone then you should only dip the very tip of the cutting in powder before placing it in or on the soil.

How do you propagate outdoor succulents?

There’s no difference between indoor and outdoor succulents when it comes to propagation. That said though the ‘outside’ has an unpredictable nature so you should propagate your succulent in a greenhouse or indoors to start with. Once they’re strong enough to be out in the sun and can withstand a little bit more water than they need you can then transfer them outside, or even replant them in the ground.

How long does it take for a new plant to grow

There’s no set time that it takes for a cutting to develop into a fully grown succulent, except to say that it depends on the variety of the plant as well as the growing conditions. To put it more into perspective, some plants will reach maturity within six months while others can take five or more years.

Want to know more? How quickly do succulents grow?

Why isn’t my propagated succulent developing rooting

Succulents are extremely hardy plants that can withstand a lot of neglect and the same can be said for cuttings, regardless of the type of cutting they are. With this in mind, there are only a couple of reasons why a healthy cutting won’t propagate.

Too much light

While many succulents are perfectly happy in direct sunlight (and even thrive on it) new leaves, and new growth for that matter, are much more sensitive to sunlight. In extreme cases, the leaves will burn and the plant will die before it has a chance to grow but in mild cases, it will slow the process down considerably. If you think this might be the case then move your cuttings to a more shaded location.


We all know that succulents hate sitting in water and cuttings are no different. If your soil is more than damp to the touch your cuttings are probably overwatered. Rather than stop watering the cutting and waiting until the soil has dried out you’re better off moving it to fresh damp soil, after allowing the cutting to dry out. This will give it a better chance of developing roots and growing into a healthy new succulent.

Not sure how much water your succulent needs? How to water for optimum health.

Overwatering your propagated cutting can prevent it from developing roots

I hope you found this article helpful. If you did I’d be grateful if you could share it please as it would really help me.

Recent Posts