Thursday, February 2, 2012

Making new plants from succulent leaf cuttings

Many plants can be propagated by cuttings, but nothing could be easier than making new plant babies from echeverias, graptopetalums and similar leaf succulents. I have a lot of these crammed together in tight quarters, and I (or other people) often brush up against them, breaking off leaves in the process. As annoying as that may seem, it’s actually a great opportunity for propagation.


Ghost plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense). The leaves of this plant seem to break off before you even touch them! That’s why I have more ghost plant babies than anything else!


Echeveria subsessilis ‘Azure Blue’ where many of the leaf cuttings shown below came from

Instead of throwing the leaves away, I usually put them on top of the soil in a nearby pot or even just on a table—whatever is closest and handiest. Invariably I forget about these leaves, but when I check them a month or more later, I’ll see the signs of plant magic: new growth!

Initially there will be just the slightest protrusion from the broken-off end.


Graptopetalum amethystinum leaves with new plants forming at the broken-off ends


Mother plant where they came from

Weeks later you’ll see a tiny rosette forming.


Graptopetalum paraguayense

And a few more weeks later there’ll be adventitious roots growing into the soil.


Echeveria subsessilis ‘Azure Blue’

That’s when it’s time to gently dislodge the newborn and put it into its own pot.


Echeveria subsessilis ‘Azure Blue’


Graptopetalum paraguayense offspring propagated from broken off leaves

Of course you could take a systematic approach and simply place leaf cuttings into their own pots to begin with, but I rarely seem to be able to get myself that organized.


Echeveria subsessilis ‘Azure Blue’ leaf cuttings

And as you can see, it’s not necessary! This group of plants—and propagation thereof—appears to be fool-proof. Try it for yourself!



This was an entire rosette of Echeveria subsessilis ‘Azure Blue’ that got knocked off. I simply put it on top of some lava rocks in another pot and several new rosettes are sprouting from the old one.


This method works works great with echeverias such as this Echeveria glauca.


This is a length of stem left over from one of the two plants above (cuttings I was given by a friend). Instead of tossing the excess length of stem, I simply placed it on top of the soil in another pot—and voilà, new babies sprouting right from the stem.


Today I gathered up all my recent leaf cuttings and put them into their own pots


It looks like I will end up with two dozen new plants…


…perfect to pass along to friends and neighbors!

Very quickly you’ll end up with more plants than you need, but what could be better than sharing with friends and family—or donating to your local succulent society for a a plant sale. And if you’re really ambitious, you could start hoarding succulent cuttings for a vertical wall like this one.


  1. I agree, they really are the simplest to propagate -- if not slow. I guess plants that readily root in water (basil, coleus, a zillion others) are simpler, but you've got to love that new plants form from stems, leaves, or whatever!

  2. It's pretty addicting, but really... What to do with 300 echeverias at the end of the season... :)

  3. How much root do you need before planting it? It's been over a month and I'm just starting to get tiny hairs (not very long, barely visible). How long do they have to be before I can stick it in a pot. Thanks!

    1. You can pot it up now. Be sure the soil is dry. Keep it dry for another week, then water. Let dry before watering again. Good luck!

  4. Great guide, very helpful. It's so much fun to propagate succulent cuttings and see what you end up with. I've had some that will actually be slightly different than the parent plant.

  5. Great tips for propagating Succulent Cuttings and have definitely help, thanks!

  6. I'm trying hard to propagate echeveria leaves. I've got them to produce a lot of roots, but they're not producing rosettes. What am I doing wrong? Some cuttings have shriveled, have many roots, but still no rosette. Are these alright or can they be saved? How can I get any of them to produce rosettes?