Propagation is the process of multiplying your plants in order to get new plants. One of the most amazing things about succulents is how easily they propagate. With a little effort, you can quickly expand your succulent collection and create a gorgeous succulent garden. There are several methods of propagating succulents – from leaves, cuttings, offsets, and seeds.
This is probably the most satisfying and rewarding way to propagate succulents. Not all succulents can be propagated this way, but almost every succulent that has leaves growing from the stem can be used for this type of propagation. Sedum, Echeveria, Graptoveria, Graptopetalum, or even some types of Kalanchoe and Aeonium can be propagated from leaves
The method is quite simple and pretty effective. All you need to do is to remove or cut a leaf as close to the stem as possible. You can just twist it off, but be sure that the stem end of the leaf should be preserved and intact. If it’s damaged, it won’t propagate.
Likewise, any leaf that seems unhealthy, looks wrinkled or damaged, or has a pest infestation, should not be used for propagation. Choose fleshy, chubby, firm, and healthy-looking leaves.
Lay the leaf on the soil in a pot and wait for a miracle to happen! The leaf will shortly produce roots and form a new plant.
You don’t even have to water these leaves until they develop roots. When the roots emerge, you can sprinkle a bit of water occasionally. Eventually, a new plant will form and the leaf you used for propagation will shrivel and die. Replant the new-formed plant when it develops the strong root system and it’s about 2,5 cm (1 inch) big.
This method is so effective that almost every leaf that falls on the floor produces a new plant. A leaf will develop roots and form a new plant even on a firm surface.
Propagating succulents from cuttings is another simple and effective method. Almost any type of succulents can be propagated this way. It’s also sometimes the only solution for ‘leggy’ succulents that become stretched due to the inadequate light conditions.
There are two ways that you can take a succulent cutting – to cut a new offshoot (side stem) or to cut off the top of a succulent.
To take a healthy cutting, use a clean knife or scissors and cut as close to the stem as possible.
Remove several leaves at the bottom. This way you’ll have a leafless part of the stem that should be placed in the soil.
You can leave cuttings for several days in a warm and shady place to dry out. If you skip this step, plant succulent cuttings in dry soil. Water them only after a few days.
If you cut off the top of a succulent, don’t throw the original plant away. Some succulents can develop tiny new plants on the stem of a mother plant.
Useful tip: Even if you leave in a warm climate where you can grow tender succulents outside, start your cuttings indoor. Don’t plant them directly to the garden but plant them in a temporary pot, container, or potting tray instead. This way they’ll be protected from the intensive sun and unpredictable outdoor conditions. Only when they develop a strong root system and become mature, you can move them outside to their permanent place.
Some succulents form tiny clone plants identical to a mother plant. These daughter plants are called shoots, offsets, pups, suckers, or chicks. The propagation from offsets is called propagating by division and it’s often used in nurseries because it’s a fast way to expand a collection and it’s a secure way to get an identical species or cultivar.
Many different types of succulents produce offsets. Agave, Aloe, cacti, Sanseveria, Haworthia, and Gasteria are some examples of succulents that can be propagated from offsets.
The method of taking an offset cutting depends on a succulent. For example, Sempervivum produces chicks that can be easily detached from a mother plant without digging the plant up. Just cut the stolon with sterile scissors.
Other plants, like Aloe or Gasteria, produce offsets attached to a mother plant. In order to detach these offsets, you will have to dig up the plant from the soil. Pull the offsets gently from the mature plant.
Once you have your offsets removed from a mother plant, you can treat the offsets just as any cutting.
This is probably the most difficult and slowest method of succulent propagation. It takes weeks or even months for succulent seeds to germinate, so don’t go for this method if you’re not equipped with patience or if there’s another way you can multiply your plants. However, some gardeners love observing seeds developing into mature plants, so growing succulents from seeds is often described as a slow, but rewarding process.
If you decide on growing succulents from seeds, you can purchase the seeds from a nursery or you can collect your own seeds from flower stalks. And for the record, there’s always an element of surprise when growing succulents from seeds – due to the cross-pollination, some seeds can produce slightly different plant than the mother plant.
Succulents seeds are generally extremely small, so you’ll need some cotton buds to handle them. You will need a potting tray filled with a potting mix for cacti and succulents. Press the seeds gently in a damp growing medium and don’t cover them with soil. Use a plastic cover in order to keep a steady temperature of around 70°F (21°C). Keep the soil in a warm place with a lot of light, but avoid exposing them to the direct sunlight.
As previously said, succulent seeds will need some time to germinate. Sometimes it can take an entire year for a succulent to grow 0.3-0.7 in (1-2 cm). Transplant them in their permanent place when they reach maturity.