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Propagating Succulent Leaf Cuttings by MrBrownThumb

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This is a popular search topic on my gardening blog so I thought I'd share it
here. Follow 119

I grow cacti & succulents indoors and sometimes the plants get leggy and look
stretched because there isn't enough light available indoors over the winter. Bio: Guy from Chicago interested in a
wide range of things. Right now I'm really
The way to prevent this is to give your plants the amount of light they require.
into Cacti And Succulents and plant
But when that isn't an option you can always freshen up your plants but taking propagation from seed and crossings.
cuttings and making new plants. Check out my blog about gardening if
you're bored.

If you're happy with the way your plant is growing or looking you can also use
this method to propagate them and make more to grow or give away. No More by MrBrownThumb
special chemicals or hormones are needed for most succulent plants and as
you'll see sometimes you don't even need soil. No parts of the plant will go to
Tags: gardening plant propagation
succulents plants indoor gardening


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In this case my Echeveria ("hens 'n chicks" in some places) was etiolating
because there wasn't enough light coming in the window where it was growing
over the winter. Look at the image and notice how the growth that occurred
over the winter is widely spaced compared to the compact growth at the top.

When a succulent plant begins to grow like this you have a couple of options.
You can remove the lower leaves and plant it deeper or you can do what I did.
I first removed the lower leaves and set them aside to dry for about three days
in bright (but indirect) light. The reason we do this is because we have to let
the cuts callous over to prevent rot. The second thing I did was cut off the top
and also set it aside to dry for three days. What you're left with is just the
"stump" of the original plant but even that you should keep because it will send
out new leaves and plants that you can cut off and also root later.

After the three days you can simply set your leaf cuttings on a pot of soil and
wait for them to root. The top portion that you removed can also be inserted
into soil and rooted. The "stump" we created should be kept somewhere shady
and not watered much if at all until new growth appears.

Step 2: What the cuttings will look like

After a couple of weeks this is what your new plants will look like. The pot on
the right is the "stump" we were left with after we removed the top portion of
the plant and all the lower leaves. If you look closely it is growing two new
plants out of the sides of the stem.
in the pot on the right we now have an Echeveria growing nice and compact
the way they do when they have the proper amount of light given to them
during the growing season.

But what about the leaves I mentioned earlier?

Step 3: Even the leaves can be rooted

The two leaves in the center were actually leaves I lost on the porch when I
originally removed them from the plant. They fell behind a bench and got lost
and forgotten but have grown at a faster rate than the two leaves on the outer
edges which were sitting on top of a pot of soil. Once your cuttings have
started to form roots you can pot them up and treat them like regular plants.

As you can see you don't need any special rooting hormones or chemicals or
soils to root may of the succulents you have in your home or that you can find
in your nearest garden center. You don't even need a whole plant if you
happen to come across a leaf of a succulent plant you like or if you ask
someone for a leaf you can propagate it and grow your own plant.

On my plant blog I get asked if Aloes can be rooted like this and though I've
never tried it everthing I've read indicates that they are one of the few
succulent plants that can't be propagated through leaf cuttings. Jade plants
cuttings can also be easily rooted.

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JackieK1 3 months ago Reply

does it make a difference how big the leaves are?

Violaodorata000 3 years ago Reply

My name is Jan and I am a succulent/plant addict. LOL. I live in

Southern California, the low desert area. It seems that all the rules for
certain succulents go out the window here. I have been somewhat
successful with Alpine Succulents, though I have lost many in the
learning process.

One thing I learned is that even tho these are "sun loving" plants, they
are not "desert sun" loving plants. It may sound silly but after watering
some and placing them lovingly in the sun for a few hours, they literally
started burning up. A tough lesson but a good one.

Another lesson is not all Escheveria are alike. The ones that are called
hybrids do not always propagate from leaf cuttings. I have a
Graptoveria Opalina that looks pretty lanky. I am not sure that if I cut it
off at the top, it will re-root. So I am still contemplating that. I also have
an Escheveria Perle V Nurnberg with the same problem. Perle is
definitely not propagating from leaf cuttings so it make me wonder. Will
it survive the cut?

liligoat Violaodorata000 1 year ago Reply

Hey Jan, I'm new to succulents but can definitely see an

addiction coming! Its been two years so, erm, I was wondering
if you figured out the propagation of your hybrids. Today I
bought an Escheveria labeled just "Black." It has slightly darker
tipped leaves. Not sure what its hybrid status is but it needs
some care.
To anyone: Do you think it is better to cut off and re-pot the little
chicks or to re-pot the whole plant? I read that the "hen" will die
after a couple years but I wasn't sure how that affected the

suclov 1 year ago Reply

I did my cutting on my Black Prince Echeveria. However, I let it sit for

more than 3 days in the garage which is dark. Can I still plant it now on
a new pot and grow roots on them?
MYT CR8TiV 1 year ago Reply

(n_n) I rescued a broken piece of cacti from a neighbors sidewalk

garden. Being their Cactus garden is by the sidewalk where there's
alot of foot traffic it tends to get trampled on by people who park next
to the curb where these cactus gardens are. I happen to find a baby
cacti head separated from the plant and rescued it. I'm happy to see
that after taking that baby cacti head and placing it in soil it's happily
growing. I didn't wanna see it die on the sidewalk.

jarfon0300 3 years ago Reply

i live in the UK. i have a sort of crassula but i have no idea what it is. it
has long pointed leaves and they are dull grey-green with purple
margins and the stem is purple too. anyone know what it is?
it is now autumn and i took a leaf off in the summer and it has not done
anything yet. it has not rotted nor has it rooted. how long will this take.
plants in the UK slow down at this time of year and if it does not do
anything soon, it will end up as part of the compost in the pot.
any tips are very welcome.

izzyboop18 4 years ago Reply

i belive you can do the same with aloe my mom is an aloe freak
literally all she ever does is snatch and throw the leaves on the ground
and they grow real quick i dont know how but they grow every time
she has an aloe forest practically lol so just try real hard if sh can
effortless im sure you can

Damian James 5 years ago Reply

Aloes put out pups pretty readily when the growing conditions are
right. I haven't tried getting cuttings to root, but have grown dozens of
aloes from the pups put out by a single plant. Pups are easy to
separate either when re-potting, when a knife may help untangle the
roots, or with a plant that's in the ground just by feeling around it's
base with your fingers. Pups that have been allowed to mature without
being separated may become inextricably intertwined with the parent
plant, though. You don't need to be too wary of damaging the plants in
this process - my experience is that they are extremely hardy to this
sort of treatment.

beckiexbomb44 5 years ago Reply

This didn't work for me the leaf just died....any suggestions?

plantlover 6 years ago Reply

I have a slightly off topic question: I have an echeveria with tall stems
that flower. When these flowers are dead, should I cut the stem or
leave it to continue to grow?
MrBrownThumb (author) plantlover 6 years ago Reply

sorry for the late reply but you can just cut them off. As you've
probably discovered by now they just shrivel once the flower is

biochemtronics 6 years ago Reply

Thank you so much for taking the time to post this. Great information.

burnergirl 6 years ago Reply

Although I lack your systematic approach, I have tried rooting aloe

leaves and to no avail! And here I thought I was doing something
wrong (!)...good to know that it purportedly doesn't work and I have my
experience to support that. Thanks for bringing this up!

moseph burnergirl 6 years ago Reply

they are super easy to propagate by division though, in my

experience. that is, they make lots of different offshoot babies
and you just split them apart.

The Saminator 6 years ago Reply

nice... Where would I buy that cool looking plant you have got there?
At a nursery? And did you say this works with all cacti? thanks!!!!

WardXmodem 7 years ago Reply

Slightly off topic - I have a north-facing window, but being a bedroom --

clothes changing etc -- I prefer keeping the vertical blinds closed. It is
"fairly bright", and Violets (not MY choice) "leaf" out well, but no
blooms. What does well in such a shaded environment, just pleasant
for company etc? DEFINITELY not succulents, they'll be a foot tall in a
month ;-)

MrBrownThumb (author) WardXmodem 7 years ago Reply

You can do a search for low light houseplants and get a good
list of all the plants that would do pretty good there. But I just
did an entry on my plant blog about a plant commonly called a
ZZ plant. I tried everything to kill it and it survived and is known
for a being a low light houseplant and is a succulent with a cool
tuberous base. Others you could do use would be Snake Plant
which you can propagate through cuttings.

Some others you can do would be:

Aspidistra elatior "cast iron plant"

Some of these have large foliage and can provide you with the
privacy that you'd lose by keeping the blinds open.

WardXmodem 7 years ago Reply

Thank you so much! I bought 3 succulents after a trip to the

Arboretum, and sure enough, I was awfully disappointed by the spindly
winter growth!! You've given me the nudge to try again, and let them
do what they do best - make more of themselves! The compact (short)
ones sure look best. COMPLETE ASIDE, but one day, playing with a
napkin, I folded all 4 corners into the middle. This formed another
square, smaller. SO I folded all 4 corners into the middle. Again. And
again and again. To my amazement (because I was just "playing') it
UNFOLDED into a very pretty flower with smaller leaves in the middle
and larger outside - reminded me of my Succulent.

MrBrownThumb (author) WardXmodem 7 years ago Reply

You should post that as an instructable. ;0)

gridworks1 7 years ago Reply

I started trying your instructable tonight. We have a pot that has a

bunch of succulents that have grown way too long and all over the
place. I'm glad you put this up and I'll let you know if it works for us...
maybe pics later.

MrBrownThumb (author) gridworks1 7 years ago Reply

Hi gridworks. Good luck with your plants let me know what kind
of luck you have.

LinuxH4x0r 7 years ago Reply

Good instructable. I do this all the time with my dad on both

succulents, and cacti. Good luck

MrBrownThumb (author) LinuxH4x0r 7 years ago Reply

Do you find you have a too many plants after a while? I've been
giving the new plants that I started from this plant away
because I can't keep them all over the winter but whenever a
leaf falls I can't help but set it aside to root.
LinuxH4x0r MrBrownThumb 7 years ago Reply

yeah, we give them away like crazy (african violets are also
popular). Now that I'm living in New Mexico, after our house is
built, I think I'll try growing them outside (some sort of ground
cover). I want have a whole outside cactus garden here. Good
luck with the plants! BTW what do you suggest for this type of

MrBrownThumb (author) LinuxH4x0r 7 years ago Reply

Hi LinuxH4x0r, I'm not familiar with your zone but I'd try
contacting Mesa Garden at www.mesagarden.com. They're a
retail operations but since they're in NM maybe they can
provide you with some ideas or tell you about the local cacti &
succulent society where you can pick the brains of some of the
experienced growers in that area. People who live in the state
would have a better idea and they may even be pushing the
envelope and growing C&S that I wouldn't even consider for the
outdoors. You can also search for "winter hardy cacti" and cacti
that can survive in zones colder than yours should do fine in
your area.

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