How to Propagate Succulents

Most succulents are easy to propagate vegetatively by offsets, stem cuttings, or leaf cuttings.  The type of propagation you choose depends on the species of plant and how it grows. 

Offsets & Division  |  Stem Cuttings  |  Leaf Cuttings  |  Propagation Method by Species  |  More Information

 Bryophyllum delagoense))
Mother of Thousands (Kalanchoe delagoense (syn: Bryophyllum delagoense))

Offsets & Division

To propagate succulents by offsets, the species must have the appropriate growth habit.  Those species that grow in clusters of rosettes, produce “pups”, or have runners that readily root and grow are often the best candidates for this type of propagation.  Gently pull or cut the offset or side shoot being careful to separate the pieces with both leaves/stems and roots attached.  Sometimes sharp clean pruners or scissors may be needed to cut and separate runners or other pieces holding the offsets to the parent plant.  Pot up the propagule in a well-drained growing media, such as cactus potting soil, in a container with a drainage hole.  Lightly water plants and after a few weeks the new propagule will establish and begin growing on its own.  This type of propagation works well for Sempervivum, Agave, Aloe, Lithops, Gasteria, Haworthia, Manfreda, Sansevieria (Dracaena), Bryophyllum, and all of the cactus (Cactaceae family).

Stem Cuttings

To propagate by stem cuttings, remove a section of stem 3 to 6 inches long using clean, sharp pruners or scissors.  Remove the leaves from the lower half of the stem and allow the cut end to dry and callus over by letting it sit on a tray or plate, or by suspending it in an empty pot or cup for several days.  By callusing the cut end, the propagule is less likely to rot before it develops advantageous roots.  Place the callused propagule in a well-drained media, such as cactus potting soil or perlite.  Once new roots develop, it can be potted in a container and grown.  Most succulents do not root well in a glass of water.  While rooting hormone can sometimes help the propagule develop new advantageous roots faster, most succulents root quickly and easily without rooting hormone.  This type of propagation works well with Aeonium, Cotyledon, Echeveria, Graptopetalum, Pachyphytum, Sedum, Euphorbia, Crassula, Senecio, Kalanchoe, Adenium, Epiphyllum (Disocactus), and Schlumbergera.

A variation of stem-cutting propagation that is often used for succulents with rosette growth habits that produce few offsets is called “beheading”.  The entire rosette is cut off with an inch or two of stem attached.  That piece is callused and then rooted just like a stem cutting.  In many cases, multiple side rosettes will develop on the stalk left behind.  After several months, the small rosettes that form on the stalk can be cut off and rooted, producing more plants.  They can also be allowed to grow to create a plant that has a stem with a cluster of rosettes on it instead of just one.  This type of propagation often works well for Aeonium and Echeveria.

Leaf cuttings will root and grow new shoots after several weeks.
Leaf cuttings will root and grow new shoots after several weeks.
Leaf cuttings must be the entire leaf cleanly taken from the stem like the leaf on the left, not a partial leaf like the leaf on the right
Leaf cuttings must be the entire leaf cleanly taken from the stem like the leaf on the left, not a partial leaf like the leaf on the right

Leaf Cuttings

Propagation by leaf cuttings is done by cleanly removing a leaf from the stem.  For this type of propagation to be successful, the entire leaf along with the cells that attach that leaf to the stem must be removed.  These cells contain the meristem tissue needed to produce new growth.  Partial pieces of leaves will not root.  Lay leaves flat on slightly damp, well-drained rooting media, such as cactus potting soil, and gently settle them into the soil so the end of the leaf that was attached to the stem is sitting right at the soil surface, but not covered in soil. Keep the soil surface damp, but not wet.  A spray bottle is an effective way to wet the soil surface without getting the soil too wet. New roots and leaves or rosettes will form in several weeks.  This type of propagation works well for Graptopetalum, Pachyphytum, Sedum, Crassula, and Kalanchoe. 

A few succulent species, namely Sansevieria (Dracaena)will propagate successfully with a section of leaf.  For these plants, cleanly cut a 3 to 5-inch section of the leaf with sharp, clean pruners or scissors.  Allow that section to callus for a day and insert it into a well-drained potting mix.  Take special care to keep track of what end of the leaf was down and what end was up, as new roots and leaves will only develop on the “down” side of the leaf.  Cutting the bottom of the leaf straight across and the top at an angle is one method to make sure you can easily keep track of which end is up and which end is down.  After several weeks new roots and shoots will develop.

Best Propagation Method by Species

Some species or types of succulents propagate more readily using one type of propagation over another.  

Learn more about the best propagation method for many different species of succulents in this article: Common and Popular Succulent Species

More Information

Last reviewed:
August 2023