Succulents are beautiful and low-maintenance plants that are perfect for any beginner horticulturist to start.
If that is your case, then these plants are the way to go. Our article on string of watermelons can help you get started.
Succulents have the property of holding water in their leaves, stems, or roots hence making them easy to grow and propagate.
These plants come in different shapes and colors for our enjoyment. Plants such as Echeveria Lola or Ghost plant are famous for their pretty leaves.
In this guide, I will explain how you can successfully do succulent leaf propagation.
Why propagate succulents?
Before I start, let’s address this question: why would you want to propagate your succulent plants?
Well, because it’s the cheapest way to get new plants and also because it’s fun!
There are many ways to enlarge your collection, but propagation is the least costly of them all.
On the other hand, you will probably have to try many times before mastering the process.
Nonetheless, leaf propagation is very simple and won’t necessitate any prior experience.
Follow our instructions, and you will improve your chances immensely.
Now that you know the reason for propagating succulent plants, let’s dive into this exciting activity.
What is succulent leaf propagation?
You have probably asked yourself this question: “how do you propagate succulents?”
Well, there are mainly four ways to propagate succulent plants:
- Propagation with offsets: using pups that grow around the base of your succulent, this way has high chances of success. Relying on the work already done by the mother plant, you will efficiently mature the offsets. It is also called propagation by division.
- Propagation with stem cuttings: using a clean-cut stem from the parent plant is the second most used way to propagate succulents. It works best with plants that have long stems or branches. The succulents are usually in their active growth period.
- Propagation with seeds: using seeds collected after the mother plant is done flowering. This way is the slowest and requires time and patience.
- Propagation by leaf: using a healthy, plump, and active leaf from a mature plant. Also known as leaf propagation, it is the most used way in succulent propagation.
This complete step-by-step guide will focus entirely on succulent leaf propagation.
It is worth noting that you will not be able to propagate every succulent using this method.
Indeed, some succulent plants such as Aeoniums or Callisia Repens ‘Pink Panther’ will not grow this way.
I will discuss further below the easiest species you can cultivate using leaf propagation.
In short, leaf propagation is the process of using a plump and fleshy leaf from a mature parent plant to cultivate a new succulent plant.
The leaf will provide nutrients to the growing baby plant until it’s ready to grow independently.
How to do leaf propagation?
Let us now discuss how you can propagate your plants using only a leaf. The first thing you will need is a healthy, fleshy, and plump leaf from a mature plant.
How to obtain a succulent leaf
There are three ways you can obtain leaves:
- Use a leaf that has fallen from one of your succulents. It is the easiest and least risky way.
- Cut a leaf from a mature plant using either clean hands or a sharp knife. You will have to make sure that you pull off a whole leaf.
- buy ready-to-plant leaves. If you are unsure about how to pull off a leaf and don’t want to harm your plants, this is the solution.
Some succulents will lose their leaves often due to their fragility.
It is the case of many Sedums, for instance.
Still, others won’t fall off so easily and you will have to find another way to get those leaves.
Consequently, if you decide to remove a leaf off of one of your succulent plants, this is how you should do it.
First, make sure that your hands are clean to avoid any contamination.
Second, grab the plant from the stem and pull off the leaf gently while performing slow and steady twisting motions until it detaches.
You must perform a clean pull leaving the base intact.
If not, the removed leaf will not succeed in growing a new baby plant.
It is safer to pull off a little of the stem than to have a damaged leaf in your hands.
Our advice is to pull off two or three leaves from each plant you want to propagate to better your chances of success.
Let the leaves dry off
Once you have succeeded in doing so, the next step is to let them dry off for two to four days.
The duration depends on many variables like heat and sunlight.
As a rule of thumb, I recommend that you let them dry off for at least three days before moving on to the next step.
Indeed, leaves need to heal and to callous before you can use them in propagation.
Otherwise, they will absorb too much water and fail to propagate.
For this reason, put the leaves in a warm area with bright light until they scab over.
Planting and watering
Next, put the leaves on top of the soil without their ends touching it.
Although some would recommend you put the cut end of the leaf in the soil, I would suggest otherwise.
From our own experience, these leaves will fail to grow a new plant and will only rot.
Unlike mature plants, leaves need daily watering.
As a result, you will have to spray them every time the soil dries up.
That way, you will make sure they will have permanent access to water until they root.
However, make sure you don’t overdo it, or else their color will change before they ultimately die.
Succulent propagation time lapse
Depending on the species you are trying to propagate, it should take 2 to 3 weeks to see significant results.
Additionally, other aspects such as temperature, humidity, access to light, and time of the year can highly affect that timeline.
In many cases, the roots will be slow to develop while simultaneously a rosette will grow on top of the leaf. That is normal since the leaf is providing the growing baby all the nutrients it needs for now.
Later, it will start rooting in search of water while the leaf dies.
Easy succulents to propagate by leaf
As I have stated before, you will not be able to propagate all succulents using this method.
Some succulents can only be propagated by cuttings or by division (offsets).
Therefore, below is a list of 8 succulents that are easy to propagate by leaves:
- Kalanchoe Tomentosa: Known as pussy ears or panda plants, its distinguishable red-rimmed leaves are easy to pull off.
- Graptoveria Fred Ives: With its long and large leaves this plant is a favorite of succulent lovers. It can withstand harsh conditions and is perfect for beginners.
- Graptopetalum paraguayense: Due to its whitish rosettes this succulent is also called the ghost plant. It is one of the easiest and fastest succulents to propagate by leaves.
- Crassula Picturata : Known also as Tiger Jade, it is a succulent native to South Africa. Check here our article on how to care for this gorgeous plant.
- Sedum rubrotinctum: Known as jelly beans and originating in Mexico, its leaves are very sensitive and will easily drop off. However, this makes it an ideal candidate for leaf propagation. It is one of 10 ‘coral-looking’ succulents I recommend.
- Sedum morganianum: Another sedum genus plant, this succulent is also called donkey tail or burro’s tail. Just like in the case of sedum rubrotinctum, its leaves will fall off easily which is proof that it is perfect for leaf propagation.
- Echeveria: it is probably the most popular succulent amongst horticulturists. This succulent has beautifully shaped leaves that can easily be made to propagate.
- Aloe vera: One of the most famous succulents and houseplants, Aloe vera is widely known for its benefits. Although it is preferable to propagate it using pups, you can still try leaf propagation. It will require patience and time, but the results will surely be satisfying.
Succulent leaf propagation tips
Here are some tips to ensure a high success rate:
- Keep the soil damp by watering it as soon as it dries off.
- Try with multiple leaves since the cases of failure are very common.
- Use easy to propagate succulents such as Sedums and Echeverias.
- Avoid succulents such as Aeoniums, Agaves, Euphorbias, and most Haworthia.
- Use coconut coir in the beginning since it holds water better than bonsai jack mix.
- Don’t try to relocate the baby succulent until it is approximately 1 inch tall and is well-rooted.
- Save them in a warm place with bright light but avoid direct sunlight.
In summary, succulent propagation by leaf is an easy and inexpensive way to grow your selection of plants.
For a beginner, it is a fun and informative way to learn about plants and gain experience. Even though the success rate is low at the beginning, you will get better with time.
Keep in mind that you cannot propagate every succulent this way. Thus, you must carefully choose which succulents you are going to use in that process.
The steps explained above are easy to follow. However, I recommend that you try with many leaves at the same time.
I wish you good luck in your endeavors.