Ideas & Inspiration

How to Propagate Succulents

Succulent Facts
Small succulent plants in white planters.

Succulents are drought-resistant plants that store water in their roots, stems or leaves. Storing water gives them a swollen or fleshy appearance known as succulence. 


Succulents are native on six continents. They include nearly 60 different plant families, including aloes, echeverias, jades, euphorbias, sedums, sempervivums, kalanchoes and also cacti. Although the most common color is green, succulents are available in almost any color of the rainbow, including red, orange, yellow, and purple. 

Why Propagate?
An echeveria succulent in a terracotta pot.

Even a plant that’s well taken care of will need pruning at some point. Succulents can get leggy, grow in unusual directions, become lopsided or overgrow their space. Pruning helps keep the plants healthy and looking great. You can either toss the clippings into the compost or use them to create more plants. 


There are several ways to create new plants including rooting succulents and propagating succulents in water. However, the top three methods are using offsets, growing succulents from their cuttings and wet and dry leaf pullings. 

Rooting Succulents by Offsets
A person removing an offset from a succulent plant.

Many species of succulents produce offsets—small plants that grow at the base of the main plant. Offsets are fully formed mini-plants that can grow independently. Removing offsets and replanting succulents will improve the health of the plants by allowing more energy and nutrients to reach the main plant.


Depending upon the succulent, there may be offshoots from the mother plant either as small side plants or upward growths. Make sure the offset is a good size before attempting propagation.


  • It is best to wait until the soil is dry before gently tugging, teasing or twirling the small plant away from the mother plant.
  • Do not pull or rip the plants apart—the goal is to keep as many roots as possible with the baby plant.
  • Pot it into a small container filled with moistened cactus/succulent potting mix with high sand content. 
  • Wait a day or two, then water sparingly.
  • Once the roots are established in the new pots, they can be transferred to larger pots or put outdoors (if your weather permits.) 
Succulent Cuttings
A person cutting off the top growth of a succulent plant.

Using succulent cuttings is another popular method for propagation. This method will take longer than the offset method. It works by cutting off plant shoots to start new plants.


  • Select the right shoot—make sure the stem is supporting a small plant and not a flower.
  • Using sharp pruners or a blade, cut the top at an angle approximately 1/2-inch below the small plant.
  • Discard the rest of the stalk from the mother plant.
  • Allow the cut end of the small plant to callous over for several days (up to a week) before planting into moist cactus/succulent potting mix with a high sand content.
  • It can take up to four weeks for roots to get established.
Leaf Pulling
A tray of succulent leaves and stems.

When you want to grow many plants from one mother plant, leaf pulling propagation is the method of choice. However, this is the slowest method of propagation. Once the propagation process has started, resist the urge to water or help the succulents grow. They will progress at their own speed, which is slow and steady. 

Getting the Leaves Ready
A succulent leaf on a table.

Properly preparing the leaves is vital for successful propagation.

  

  • Start by removing and discarding any leaves that are broken or damaged.
  • Water the succulent several days in advance of propagation so it will absorb water and nutrients as well as prepare the plant for you to take cuttings, propagate from leaves and regrow stumps. 
  • The goal is to choose leaves that are full and healthy-looking and remove them from the mother plant.
  • Hold the leaf and gently wiggle in a back-and-forth motion until it snaps or pulls from the stem. Do not use a circular motion or try to pull or pop the leaf from the stalk.
  • Successful propagation requires that you get the entire leaf intact. Broken or ripped leaves are not able to grow new roots and the leaf will eventually wither and die.
  • Continue to remove leaves until there are a few surrounding the top of the succulent. Using sharp pruners or a blade, cut the stalk at an angle approximately 1/2-inch below the top.
  • If the stem is long or leggy, consider cutting it about 1/2-inch above the ground.
  • The stump is now a short stub; allow it to dry and callous over for several days. Do not water. 
  • Arrange the leaves in a single layer on a dry tray.
  • Place the tray in moderate light and keep it protected from the weather—no direct sunlight, no bright light, no darkness, no watering and no misting. Do nothing at this point—ignore it. 
  • The callousing step is the most important one for successful propagation. Allow several days up to a week for the end to dry and callous over. 
  • Remove any leaves that start to wither and die.
  • After about a week, the ends of the leaves should be calloused over as well as the cut edge of the top and stump.
  • Once calloused over, the leaves, tops and stumps are ready to grow roots and new plants.
Wet and Dry Propagation
Baby succulent plants at the base of succulent leaves.

Either method you use is up to personal preference. As long as the leaves were prepped properly, either method will produce new plants. 

  

Wet Propagation Method 


  • Place the calloused leaves on top of moist cactus/succulent potting mix. 
  • You may want to experiment with simply laying the leaves on top or contacting the calloused end to the soil.
  • Do not plant the leaf into the soil. It is best to spritz or mist the ends every few days and moisten the soil every week. Take care not to water the leaves.
  • In a few weeks, small white and pink roots will begin to sprout from the ends of the leaves. Increase the amount of spritzing or misting and a few weeks later small plants will emerge.
  • Small plants can be transplanted into a cactus/succulent potting mix when they are approximately1/2-to 3/4-inches in diameter.
  • Keep the roots under the soil and the baby plant on top.
  • Continue misting the soil every few days as the plant grows.
  • The original leaf can be gently removed if it begins to die back or shrivel up.
  • Keep the soil on the moist side until the plant grows larger, then only water when dry. 


Dry Propagation Method 


  • Place the leaves on a shallow tray in moderate light area for several weeks until the leaves start sending out roots.
  • Resist the urge to mist or water the leaves. Each leaf has enough energy to create a new plant without assistance.
  • Once roots are visible, lightly mist them every few days. 
  • In about a month, small plants should emerge on top of the roots.
  • Small plants can then be planted into cactus/succulent potting mix when they are approximately 1/2-to 3/4-inches in diameter.
  • Keep the roots under the soil and the baby plant on top.
  • Continue misting the soil every few days as the plant grows.
  • The original leaf can be gently removed if it begins to die back or shrivel up.
  • Keep the soil on the moist side until the plant grows larger, then only water when dry. 


For the Stump:


  • Mist occasionally. In a few weeks you should see new plants emerging from the stump.
  • Put the calloused top into a pot with moistened cactus/succulent potting mix. 
  • Keep the soil slightly moist— not wet—until roots develop and the plant grows.

No matter which propagation method you choose, be on the lookout for dead plantlets, leaves, tops or stumps. Remove them as soon as possible to minimize any risk of mold or rot. Remember to resist the urge to overwater. Practice patience and your efforts will be beautifully rewarded. Shop The Home Depot for succulents, cactus potting soil, planters and everything you need to successfully propagate succulents.