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How To Propagate Succulents

by Sofia Lara

Not only are succulent plants easy to grow and care for but propagating the species can be simple and doable for anyone. In this article, we will show you how to propagate succulents using four different methods. 

The processes involve only a few steps and require a bit of time and effort. If you have children, ask them to help you out and turn the propagation of succulents into a learning experience!

Propagation is the process of taking a section of a mature species of succulent and using that section to grow a new succulent. Although propagation is a simple process, there are some varieties that can present more difficulty than others.

There are four ways to propagate succulents – leaf, stem, offsets or pups, and seeds.

How To Propagate Succulents With Leaf Cuttings

Propagating through leaves is best used with varieties of succulents that have thick and fleshy leaves. The Echeveria variety which originates from Mexico comes to mind. Echeverias have plump leaves that are used to store water.

To ensure a successful propagation, the leaf must be healthy and it must be removed using a clean pull. Thick and plump leaves are easier to twist and pull compared to thinner ones.

There are two ways to remove a leaf.

First, is to slowly twist the leaf then do a gentle tug or pull. It’s very important that when the leaf comes off, there are no leftover parts on the stem.

The second way of removing a leaf is with the use of a sharpened and sterilized knife or a pair of garden shears. With this method, choose a leaf near the base of the plant and perform a clean cut making sure the leaf is removed without damage.

The next step is very important to grow a new succulent.

Once you have cleanly removed the leaf from the plant, place it under a Grow Light and in a dry area so it can harden or develop calluses.

Hardening to allowing the leaf to have calluses is crucial because a callus creates “growth points” that give rise to the growth of roots.

It will take anywhere from two to four days for the leaf to properly develop calluses. When the leaves have hardened, place it on a pan filled with well-draining soil that has been moistened.

The best growing environment to successfully propagate succulents is one that is warm and has access to indirect sunlight.

Always keep the soil moist. If the soil is dry to the touch, use a spray bottle and mist the leaves.

Within three weeks, you should see roots and leaves growing. It will take another few months before a succulent is mature enough for re-potting.

A good sign is if the leaf has turned brown and has fallen off. This means the leaf has absorbed all of the nutrients that it can from the soil and the new plant has no more use of it. 

How To Propagate Succulents With Stem Cuttings

Succulents with leaves that form into rosettes are ideal for propagation through the use of stem cuttings because this type of plant grows strong and healthy stems.

If you decide to propagate the succulent with the use of stem cuttings, you will have greater success when the process is done before the start of its active growth period which is usually the months of spring to early summer.

You may also pull off a successful propagation with stem cuttings if it is performed during winter which is the plant’s dormant period.

You will need a sharp and sterilized knife of garden shears to perform the precise cutting of a stem. The ideal stem is one that is short and located closest to the base of the plant. When cutting the stem, take great care that it is not damaged.

Place the stem in a dry area that receives indirect sunlight to allow it to develop calluses. The calluses will also prevent the stem from rotting and acquiring disease once it is re-potted.

When the stem has properly hardened, insert it into a pot filled with well-draining soil. Give the soil water whenever it has completely dried out. 

How To Propagate Succulents With Offsets Or Pups

Propagating succulents with the use of offsets is one of the best ways to grow the species because the “parent” or main plant has done most of the hard work for you.

Offsets are also called “pups” because they are regarded as offspring of the succulent plant. They sprout out when the roots that have the leaf clusters come out of the parent plant. You can consider the pups as “new succulents”.

Before removing the offsets from the base of the main plant, you have to brush off the topsoil until you can clearly see the roots and perform a clean pull. Deliberately but gently pull out the offset and make sure most of its roots are intact.

If the offsets remain connected to the main plant, use a sterilized and sharpened knife to cut them off.

Similar to propagation through leaves and cuttings, allow the offsets to develop calluses by placing them in a dry area that gets indirect sunlight.

When the offsets have properly healed and developed calluses, re-plant them in a pot that contains moistened well-draining soil. Give the soil water whenever it has completely dried out.

In a few weeks, the offsets will form new roots and begin the growth process. 

How To Propagate Succulents With Seeds

Propagating succulents with seeds will need more time and patience than any other method. It is definitely the slowest way to propagate succulents.

A succulent produces seeds after the flowering period. You can find the seeds at the base of the “fruit” or flower of the succulents. The seeds might appear to be dust-like in texture and this can make the propagation process more difficult. Another option is to buy seeds from the local garden store.

Before planting the seeds, soak them in warm water for 30-minutes to remove their coating. Next, fill a planter with well-draining soil such as cactus and give it a good soaking with water.

After 30-minutes, cover the seeds with moistened soil. Do not bury them under the soil. Take great care that there is enough spacing between the seeds to allow the roots to grow properly.

The next step will ensure the proper growth of the seeds through a process called germination.

Cover the moistened seeds with plastic. This step simulates the conditions of a “greenhouse” and will allow proper germination to take place. Six weeks after germination, you can begin to water the soil whenever it has thoroughly dried out.

Conclusion

Propagating succulents is simple, easy, and fun. It is an activity that you can do with the family.

It’s very important to be patient with the propagation process. You may not get it right the first time and that’s perfectly fine. Not everyone is born with a green thumb. It may take practice but eventually, you will become a natural!

The important thing to remember is that you have four methods to choose from. Your choice of technique will depend on the type of succulent that you want to propagate.

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