One of the most fascinating things about succulents is that they’re able to be propagated — it’s like nature’s little gift to plant growers.
If you learn how to propagate succulents from leaves, you can end up with tiny replicas of your favorite succulents in just a few months.
That means you’ll be able to enjoy new plants without having to pay for them individually!
Propagating succulents can be a big money saver if done correctly.
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How to Propagate Succulents that have Stretched Out
Succulents that have grown leggy or stretched out are PERFECT for propagation, especially if you hate the way they look.
These stretched-out succulents actually lost their compact form because they weren’t getting enough sunlight.
In their quest for more sunlight, they stretched themselves out in a process called etiolation.
While this can be frustrating for any succulent grower, it doesn’t mean your plant will die; it simply won’t ever return to its former shape. Give it more sunlight and it’ll be fine.
However, if your plant’s new stretched-out and leggy look bothers you, use the propagation tips below to create new plants from this one mother plant!
Tips for Propagating Succulents from Leaves
This process is very simple and actually pretty fun!
All you need is a few leaves picked off of a healthy succulent. To get started, go over to the succulent you want to propagate.
I usually look for succulents that have stretched out from lack of adequate sunlight; it’s my way of “fixing” succulents that aren’t as pretty as they once were.
The leaves you propagate should be healthy for the most part, which means that they’re not dried out or rotting.
You don’t have to take the entire succulent apart, either. You can save the top of the plant and part of the stem so you can replant it.
To avoid making the mother plant look strange, I recommend taking the leaves or leaf from the bottom of your succulent.
This way, you won’t have weird-looking empty gaps or spaces from the middle or top of your current succulent.
To separate a leaf from your plant, simply grab the leaf with your fingers and gently tug at it back and forth from side to side until the leaf breaks off from the base.
It should tear off rather easily.
When I learned how to propagate succulents a few years back, I realized that a clean break from the stem of the plant gave me better success than if I carelessly ripped the leaf the stem.
The photo below is how your leaf should look after you tug it off the stem.
See how straight the cut is?
It didn’t tear diagonally or into the flesh of the leaf.
When all the leaves have been torn off, set them aside for a few days so the ends can form calluses.
This will help prevent root rot when the leaves are exposed to moisture and soil.
Keep the leaves in the shade because they might sunburn if left in direct sunlight.
Once you see that the ends of the leaves have formed calluses, (the ends will appear dry, brown, or “sealed in”) then it’s time for the next step!
How to Propagate Succulents with Cactus Mix
Propagating succulents is easier when you use a good cactus mix. Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix is simply a mix of sand, pumice, and soil that is mixed together to form an ideal growing environment for succulents and cacti.
It provides the right amount of water retention and air circulation that allows the roots of succulents to thrive.
Cactus mix is recommended for planting succulents indoors and outdoors, and it’s perfect for propagating succulents, too.
While whole succulents should be planted in soil, succulent leaves that are to be propagated shouldn’t be planted, but placed on top of the soil – not in the soil.
Planting your leaves in soil won’t get you good results, in fact, your leaves may end up rotting away if you try to propagate them this way.
Laying them on top of succulents soil or cactus mix gives the leaves time to grow roots that will eventually grow succulent babies in a few weeks.
The leaves will gather nutrients and water from the air and soil around them, so don’t worry about not planting them.
I recommend using a large saucer, as shown above.
I’ve even used a 9 x 13 ceramic baking dish to propagate a large number of succulent leaves.
(The baking dish had formed small cracks on the bottom of the pan, so I was no longer using it for baking).
Any container or lid with a flat surface will do; there’s no need to spend any extra money here!
This is what I happily discovered when I first learned how to propagate succulents.
Once you have your container ready, fill it with soil and lay your leaves right on top of the soil, as shown below.
One of the most important things to remember when learning how to propagate succulents is to water your leaves every day or at least every few days.
You don’t want your leaves to dry out.
While it’s true that you shouldn’t water your potted succulents with a spray bottle, watering succulents leaves is a different matter altogether.
(Read my How to Water Succulents post for a refresher on how to properly water your potted or outdoor succulents).
When you propagate succulents with this method, it’s very important to keep your soil moist.
You can simply take a spray bottle, squeeze bottle, or watering can to dampen the soil, as shown in the photo below; a few spritzes a day will do.
The leaves will get moist in the process, but that’s okay.
The important thing here is to make sure the soil gets water because this is what will help your leaves grow roots.
At this point in the propagation process, you can move your succulent leaves to a spot that gets a few hours of indirect sunlight each day.
Propagating Succulents Takes Time – Be Patient!
In fact, some of the leaves that do grow will never form a baby rosette.
However, a good majority of the leaves I’ve propagated DO grow roots. I would say about 60% of my leaves go on to grow roots.
If I have any leaves that haven’t grown roots in several weeks, I simply toss those out.
I do the same thing with rooted leaves that never form rosettes after a few more weeks.
Take a look at the photo below – this is what your leaves should look like after they’ve been laying on top of cactus mix and have been watered every day or every other day.
Those roots are beginning to form tiny little succulent babies that will grow larger in the next few months.
Keep watering them and be PATIENT! Remember that this is a long process.
Planting Succulent Babies After Propagating Succulents
Once your leaves have formed tiny replicas of the mother succulents (about the size of a dime) then it’s time to cut back on your watering a little bit.
When you stop watering, the baby rosettes will start to get their nutrients and water from the original leaf. This will help it grow larger!
Watering once a day to once every three days will also cause the original leaf to dry out; this is fine!
When the baby succulent grows larger than an inch, then you can tug it off the original leaf BUT be careful not to harm the remaining roots in the process.
After gently tugging off the large leaf, you can then pot the rooted baby succulent in its own pot. At this point, you can start caring for it like any normal succulent!
TIP: Another option if you don’t want to separate the orinial leaf from the baby succulent is to simply let the leaf dry out completely and wither away on its own.
Wasn’t that easy?! Now you can go out and start propagating your own succulents – I’m sure you’ll love the results.
And if you have people who’d like to learn how to propagate succulents – you can show them off or refer them back to this post!
FOR MORE ON GROWING SUCCULENTS, CHECK OUT THE POSTS BELOW!