So if you love succulents, but haven’t tried propagating them yet, it’s time to change that. Succulents have become my number one plant. I was the definition of the anti-green thumb until these little beauties entered my life. And not only have I kept them alive and well, I have been able to propagate them and now have the beginnings of a really beautiful succulent garden. And I’m not kidding when I tell you it was almost effortless to do it! So if you’ve ever drooled over these adorable little plants, it’s time for you to try propagating your own succulent garden.
And if you’re worried about the cost. Don’t be. A few weeks ago I shared my favorite ways to save money on plants, and I have to say propagating succulents is one of the cheapest tricks out there! You’ll only need a handful of things to get started, and then you can grow to your hearts content.
What you’ll need:
- 1 mature succulent
- Plant shears
- 1 flat tray
- Cactus soil
- Spray bottle
- Something to put a new succulent in
- A whole lot of patience!
When I started keeping succulents around I fell in love with how low maintenance they were. I could place them somewhere sunny, water them whenever I actually remembered to, and then completely forget about them. It was great! The only thing was after awhile, I did notice that they would eventually start to look a little “leggy”.
What I mean by that is, as they grew they started to not only get nice and tall but they also started to have larger gaps in between the leaves. It was obvious they needed a little attention, and that’s when I first learned about propagating.
Turns out when they start to look “leggy” that’s their signal that they’re ready to be cleaned up a bit. The cool part about succulents though is that you can save pretty much every piece of your plant and watch it grow new plants! This is what they call propagating.
For starters, you going to want to take your mature succulent and gently start working off the leaves. You do this by taking the leaf and gently moving it from left to right. They pop off pretty easily, but you’ll want to be careful to protect the stalk of the main plant. I find it easiest to work mine from the base of the plant to the top, setting each leaf aside as I go. You’re going to work on those a little more in a minute. Keep working on the leaves until you get to what I consider the bud of the plant. This is where the succulent is fresh and new still at the top.
Once you’ve reached the bud and all of the rest of the leaves have been removed, go ahead and clip the bud off, and set aside.
Now, your once beautiful succulent may look a little sad right now, but don’t freak out! All of this will be worth it. I promise!
Going back to your leaves, the thing about your leaves is that they are full of moisture right now. Before you can do anything with them you need to let them dry out for a few days. If you look at the end that was connected to the plant it should still look fresh and moist. What you want to do it leave it out for a few days to callus over. They way you’ll know it’s callused over is it will look dry and have hardened on the end.
Once your succulent leaves look nice and callused, you’ll want to grab a flat tray and fill it with a layer of cactus soil. Go ahead and lay your leaves out on the soil. It doesn’t matter how you lay them out, just lay them down and let them be. The thing you will want to make sure of is to use cactus soil because succulents are a little picky about where they like to grow.
Make sure to leave your tray somewhere with plenty of indirect sunlight. I left mine outside on my patio. That way they got plenty of sun without ever actually getting full sun exposure. I imagine indoors near a nice sunny window would work really well too!
You’ll want to take your spray bottle and lightly spray the soil with water about once a week. Succulents don’t like a ton of water and be careful not spray the leaves directly because that can sometimes cause them to rot.
Now here’s my favorite part (but fair warning…it’s also the hardest), waiting. Crazy, I know, but it can take up to a few weeks before you start to notice anything happening with your leaves. But keep checking on them. Before long you’ll start to see little buds starting to sprout off of your leaves. That’s when I start to do my little happy dance!
Buds from my first propagating experiment!
Even though you see growth off of your leaves, you’ll still want to leave them be till the buds grow a bit and start to put out their own roots. That’s when you know you have a successful new succulent!
Once you have new buds with roots, you’re ready to replant. You may notice that the original leaf has started to wilt while the new bud has come in, this is because all of the energy is now going to the new plant. Now that your new plant has matured a bit, you should be able to GENTLY work the leaf off just like you did when you removed it from the original plant. Be extra careful, though, because the baby roots are very delicate and you don’t want to separate the new plant from the root.
I’ve actually left some of the original leaves on the plant and just planted it with the roots because I wasn’t always good at removing the old leaf without damaging the new plant. Both ways have produced successful new succulents, so you try whichever works for you.
Now your new plants are ready for planting! Wherever you choose to place your beautiful new plants make sure it has good drainage, sunlight, and cactus soil. And just like when they were on the tray, they only require you to spray the soil about once a week.
One thing to keep in mind, not all leaves play the way you want them to (which is why starting off with a bunch of leaves works in your favor). Sometimes they propagate beautifully and you have no problems. Sometimes they wither and die and never give you anything. Other times they give you roots with no buds, and you can’t really do much with that. Propagating is all about experimenting. But starting off with more leaves definitely increases your chances of more wins than losses!
Roots but no bud. 🙁
Okay, now you may think I forgot about your original plant stalk and bud, but I haven’t. Promise!
All your bud needs is a new well draining pot full of cactus soil, and you can drop that baby right into it. Make sure to place it somewhere with plenty of light and lightly spray the soil about once a week. Just like your leaves, it will sprout new roots and begin to grow into its own thriving new plant.
And as for your stalk? Remember where you pulled off all of those leaves? You should begin to see new growth sprout from those same spots. But instead of leaves, you may find that it’s growing whole new plants. It’s really pretty awesome.
See?! New growth from leaves that had been previously pulled!! With a third on the way! Woohoo!
Propagating Your Own Succulent Garden:
- Take your mature succulent and gently remove all the leaves from the stalk, saving the bud at the top.
- Set leaves aside.
- Clip bud from top of plant. Place in well draining pot with cactus soil.
- Once original stalk is all that is remaining, return to original home for new growth to begin.
- Leave original succulent leaves to dry on a flat surface for 3-4 days until ends of leaves have callused over.
- Once callused, place leaves on tray of cactus soil. Lightly spraying soil once a week with water. Leave leaves alone until new buds and roots begin to grow.
- Once buds and roots have grown, gently remove old leaf and plant in a well-draining pot with cactus soil with plenty of sunlight. Lightly spraying soil with water once a week.
Like I said, propagating is all about experimenting. Sometimes you get new plants, sometimes you don’t. But because of how cool succulents are, you tend to get more wins than losses.
And really, for a $2 succulent from Ikea to multiply into 12 new succulents thanks to propagating, we’re talking a succulent garden that essentially cost me $0.17 a pop! I love when my love of pretty things makes my husband’s budget happy!
Have you ever tried propagating succulents? How was your experience?