Propagating Succulents 3 Simple Ways

As your succulents grow, they’ll need pruning or dividing. You may as well propagate them and get new succulent plants. Propagating succulents is easy and I’ll show you 3 simple ways to do it. 

How you propagate your succulent depends on what type it is. Two of these succulent propagation methods are faster, but all are straightforward. I’ll guide you through and you’ll have new succulents, for yourself or to give away, in no time.

I now live in Tucson, AZ. Previously my home was Santa Barbara, CA which is the ideal climate for growing fleshy succulents. My front, side, and back gardens were full of them. I had a never-ending supply of goodies to giveaway. Suffice it to say, I’ve propagated hundreds of succulents!

Succulent propagation in action:

When to propagate succulents

The spring and summer months are the best time for propagating succulents. Early fall is fine if you’re in a climate with warmer winters. 

How to propagate succulents

By stem cuttings, leaf cuttings, and division (includes dividing the plant as well as removing the pups). More details on these methods are further on down.

How to prune succulents for stem cuttings

You’ll see a bit of this in the video above. There’s a post and video dedicated to pruning succulents coming up in a few weeks. 

In a nutshell, you want to make clean cuts straight across the stem just above a node.

nell foster puts a 4' pencil cactus cutting into a green grow pot
As you can see, this Pencil Cactus cutting is large. I’ve found they root successfully regardless of the size.

What size succulent cuttings are best?

It depends. I’ve taken  4′ Pencil Cactus cuttings and 3″ Sedum cuttings and both have propagated successfully.

Materials needed

Pruners, floral nippers, scissors, or a knife. What you use is up to you, just make sure it’s clean and sharp. Also, pots, saucers, or trays and soil mix.

I use my Felco pruners (I’ve had them for 25+years and they’re still working like a charm!) for succulents with thicker stems and my Fiskar Nips (also a tried and true old standby) for those with thinner stems.

tools used for propagating succulents including pruners, floral nips, a knife, grow pot filled with succulent mix
What I use for propagation.

What soil mix do I use for succulent propagation?

The best soil for succulent propagation for your stem or leaf cuttings or divided plant is a light, well-aerated mix. You want the roots to be able to easily form. A propagation mix or seed starting mix isn’t necessary but a succulent and cactus soil mix is great. Popular brands you can buy online are: Bonsai JackSuperfly BonsaiCactus Cult, and Hoffman’s

Here’s the DIY succulent and cactus mix recipe I have used for over 2 years now for propagation as well as repotting and planting all my succulents (both indoors and outdoors) in pots. You can also use potting soil formulated for houseplants with pumice, perlite, coco chips, etc added in to lighten it.

I don’t use the water propagation method for succulent propagation, although I do for the majority of my tropical houseplants.

2 small succulents sit on a table indoors
The Echeveria on the left was getting leggy. You can see me pruning it in the video.

Healing the succulent stem and leaf over

The leaves and stems of succulents are full of water. It’s best to let them heal or callus over (exposing to air, just like we do with a wound) before planting. 

How long does it take for succulent stems to callus? How long let your cuttings heal over depends on the succulent and your environment. In Santa Barbara (coastal Central California) I could let them heal over longer than here in the hot, dry desert. 

For example, with String Of Pearls, it’s 1 day here and 2-5 days is fine in Santa Barbara. Echeverias can heal off up to 3 weeks here, whereas in Santa Barbara I healed them off up to 6 months. 

As for succulent leaves, I let them callus for 1-3 days.

2 things to note:

Keep your stem (and leaf) cuttings out of the direct, hot sun. They don’t like it really hot or cold while healing off either.

The stems of some succulents will show root action before planting, others won’t. My 3’+ Pencil Cactus cuttings healed off for over 2 months and roots were never visible. I planted them in the pot with the mother plant, they rooted, and now they’re well on their way. Just plant your succulent cuttings, and the roots will come.

2 hands hold 2 succulent leaves for succulent leaf propagation
The Panda Plant leaf on the left was taken off all the way back to the stem which is what you want. The one on the right was cut off too short – don’t do this when propagating.

3 Ways of Propagating Succulents

Note: if you’re more of a visual learner, the video illustrates these 3 methods in detail.

1) Propagating succulents from stems

This is the fastest method, in my book anyway, and the one I do most often because you can take bigger cuttings and instantly have bigger plants. 

You want to make sure at least 2 of the nodes are in the mix for rooting to be successful. You may have to press down on the mix a bit to get the cutting to stay standing up. I’ve had to stake some cuttings. I’ve used floral pins to get some trailing stems to stay put like my String Of Pearls.

Popular succulent houseplants I propagate by stem cuttings are Jade Plant, Burros’ Tail Sedum, String Of Bananas, String Of Pearls, Christmas Cactus, and Echeveria. 

2 panda plant succulent cuttings sit side by side one has the leaves stripped off the lower half of the stem
Two Panda Plant cuttings. The one on the left will be ready for propagation once the stem heals over. You want to take off the lower leaves (how many depends on the size of the cutting) before putting it in the mix.

2) Propagating succulents from leaves

This is the method I do least often because it takes the longest and I’m an impatient Aries girl. It’s a very popular method of propagation and easy to do so I want to share it.

When you take a leaf cutting, make a clean cut all the way back to the stem. Don’t cut it off half way up the leaf, the leaf won’t take root if you only take off a portion of it.

After your leaves have healed, lightly press them into a tray or saucer filled with the mix. I’ve also just laid them on top of the mix and rooting has been successful. 

In case your new to the world of succulent propagation, just know that the leaf doesn’t grow a new stem. A baby plant will appear at the base of the leaf. 

All succulents with leaves growing on stems have propagated this way for me. In the case of my Panda Plant, there are also baby succulents growing on the stems.

a split photos shows the progress of succulent leaf cuttings in a saucer filled with mix the baby plant is circled & the dates are at the top
The leaves are circled & dated so you can see how much the baby plant has grown in about 5 weeks’ time.

3) Propagating succulents from pups/division

This is the method used for clumping succulents (those that spread by producing pups or offsets or babies) like, Aloe Vera, Hens and Chicks, Haworthias, and Gasteria. 

I take the plant out of the pot and carefully pull the pups off the mother plant. Or, if they’re being stubborn, I use a knife to separate them. 

You can so divide any succulent with multiple stems in one pot like Christmas Cactus, String of Bananas, Burro’s Tail, String of Buttons, etc. How many plants you divide yours into depends on how big it is.

Put the pups or divided plant into pots with succulent mix and they’re good to go. 

a split photo shows a succulent being divided on 1 side & pups removed off another succulent on the other side
The String Of Buttons on the left has been divided. The Haworthia on the right has had a few pups removed that are ready to be planted.

Propagating Succulents FAQs

Where do I put my succulents while propagating?

In bright, indirect light. You don’t want to put them in a dark room, nor in direct sun. 

How do I water my propagating succulents?

I water cuttings and divided plants a bit more often than I would the established mother plant, usually every 4-7 days depending on the temps. Be careful not to drown your succulents out, too much isn’t good either. I’ll back off on the watering frequency when I feel like the roots are getting established, after 2-6 months. 

I previously used a spray bottle to keep the top of the soil lightly moist for leaf cuttings, small stem cuttings, and small divided plants. I now find this squeeze bottle with a long neck works better for me. The output of water is gentle and I can easily control the amount. I use room temperature water by the way.

How long does succulent propagation take? 

It usually takes about 3 weeks for the roots to appear and up to 6 months for significant rooting. It’ll vary depending on the succulent, time of year, and environmental conditions. I sometimes give my propagating succulent stems a bit of a very gentle pull after 4-8 weeks to see if there’s any resistance but usually, I just leave them be.

2 hands hold a succulent leaf which has been propagated & is showing roots & a baby plant
A close-up of the leaf babies. You can see how developed the roots are on this cutting.

It might seem like this process is long and detailed, but propagating succulents is really simple. I just wanted to include details to answer any questions you may have. Give it a go, you’ll be giving away plants in no time!

Happy gardening,

Signed by Nell Foster

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