The best part about propagating succulent leaves? It’s like getting new plants for free!! Which is awesome if you’re as obsessed with succulents as I am… who wouldn’t want to take one plant and make more! Of course, it takes a little bit of time and effort but for the most part it’s the easiest way to get new succulents.
Even if a plant looks beyond hope or isn’t growing right the direction the leaves can always make new plants! One plant + leaves = so many new plants!
PLUS if you’ve picked up a really pretty plant from a nursery or ordered a special plant online you can make more new little plants without spending a bajillion dollars (which is roughly what I’ve spent on plants this year).
Alright y’all let’s get down to business. If you’re looking to start propagating leaves the first thing you need are… leaves! If you are replanting succulents into new pots, making succulent arrangements or potting new plants chances are you’ll have plenty of leaves to work with.
If you’re starting from scratch or want to propagate a specific succulent you’ll have to take a leaf… the rule of thumb is to wiggle the leaf back and forth gently until the leaf comes loose. Taking a cutting of the leaf will often result in a bad leaf so put down the scissors and work on the wiggle.
It’s easier than you think!
Once you have your leaves it’s time to get started! The easiest way to propagate succulents with leaves is to lay the leaves out on top of succulent soil… so shallow trays are the perfect container.
I like to use a plastic saucer liner like the ones you can buy for inside a tray for under a dollar. Simply fill the tray liner with succulent soil and then start to lay the leaves out on top. When they’re at the leaf stage you don’t need to worry about putting the leaf tip into the soil, simply lay them on top.
Of course, there are plenty of different types of succulent soil (people even rave about their homemade mixtures) but I use miracle grow succulent soil because that is what’s available at my local nursery and it seems to work just fine.
While the leaves don’t need to be laid out in any specific pattern (if you check succulent arrangements often time a leaf has fallen off a plant and is already propagating where it’s fallen… so arranging the leaves is more for us then them). The most important part (for me!) is to make sure there’s room at the tip of the leaf for the roots to reach the soil once they start growing.
Place your trays in a shaded space without direct sunlight and let them grow! I have tried putting my trays in many places: outside, inside, direct sunlight, under an ottoman, next to a window, under a table and find that the leaves grow best inside, away from the window but not directly under anything (not because they won’t grow but because I WILL forget about them). At the moment I have a little tray station under a tall table in the corner of my living room across the room from the windows.
Now it’s time to wait! The leaves will start to grow roots as they search for soil and water so until you see roots I don’t even start to water these bad boys… if you think you can’t propagate succulent leaves just be comforted by the fact that they thrive on neglect!
Once you start to see roots I take a spray bottle and mist the roots every two to three days… it’s not a perfect science but try not to place too much water on the leaves. The leaves don’t really love water so placing the water as close to the roots as possible is the goal… of course if you have a zillion leaves yo could spend hours watering them so at this stage I use the spray bottle and call it good!
Once you see a baby plant start to grow it’s almost time to move your little leaf out of it it’s spot on the succulent tray and into it’s own little spot. My test to see if they’re ready is simple… wiggle the leaf. If the roots have grown down into the soil enough that they are holding onto soil when wiggled they are mature enough to move.
I place all the little plants into seed starter trays so I can take care of them all together and then your leaf trays are ready for new leaves!
When planting your new little succulent babies in the seed trays make sure to be extra gentle… you don’t want the leaf to fall off until it’s ready (the new little plants will get the best nutrients from the mother leaf until they’re big enough to firmly root in the soil). Simply place the roots down in the soil and leave the mother leaf in place! At this point I use a big syringe to water the succulent babies every 3 days and move them outside into indirect sunlight. They do wonderfully on our covered porch where they get sunlight through the trees and it isn’t too hot.
Whatever you do make sure not to place the little succulent babies where they can get rained on… the poor things would drown!
Each plant grows at different rates but within a couple months you’ll have tiny little plants in their own little pots and with a little love and care they’ll be big, beautiful succulents!
When you’re ready to plant your fully grown plants I’ve written a full post on how to plant these bad boys in their new grown up pots or even a succulent arrangement!