Propagating Succulents from Leaves

Propagating Succulents from Leaves

How to Propagate Succulents from Leaves

Propagating succulents to grow your collection, share with friends and use them in crafts is a fun part of this succulent-loving obsession – I mean hobby. It always seems magical to me that you can take a small part of a plant, and grow it into a whole ‘nother plant! πŸ™‚ Together, we have covered propagating succulents from stem cuttings and from divisions in previous posts. Today, we’ll look at the most magical method of all – propagating succulents from leaves. To grow an entire plant from a single leaf — it’s like getting to play with God’s toolbox!

{Please note, some links in this post may be affiliate links to sites that pay me a small commission if you click on the link and make a purchase. This commission is at absolutely no cost to you. I only recommend products and companies that I have worked with and truly love! ~Kat}

Propagating Succulents

seating bench in a succulent garden

While all succulents can be propagated, different varieties require different methods. There are four main methods of propagating succulents:

Which Succulents Can Be Propagated from Leaves?

colorful mixed succulents to propagate by leaves

Most succulents can be propagated from a single leaf, though some cannot. How can you know which will work and which won’t? As is often the case with succulents – the plant will tell you! πŸ™‚


All succulents have the drive to reproduce – it is one of the essential functions of life. Like stem cuttings, leaf propagation takes advantage of natural abilities many succulents have developed to adapt to their extreme native climates. Varieties like echeveria, graptopetalum and sedum drop their leaves easily in response to rough treatment from passing animals, root rot, and a variety of other environmental stresses – including handling by loving gardeners! πŸ™‚ In “the wild” this enables these plants to respond to some forms of stress by attempting reproduction. By dropping a leaf that is primed to root and grow, they respond to a current threat by making a bid for future offspring. When you have a healthy succulent that easily drops plump, firm leaves, it is a prime candidate for leaf propagation.

Other succulents like aeonium, portulacaria or crassula develop a woody, shrub-like growth pattern. Their leaves are much more firmly “attached” than those above, and resist efforts to remove a leaf for propagation. These can be propagated from leaves, though they take much longer. Typically, these varieties are better propagated by stem cuttings.

Still other succulent varieties propagate primarily from offsets. Sempervivum, agave and aloes are examples of pup-forming succulents that do not propagate by their leaves. (Yes, echeveria form offsets, too. But remember how easily they drop their leaves? That is the sign that they will propagate well from their leaves.)

Succulent Meristem Tissue

succulent propagation from leaves showing new growth

Isn’t this a remarkable sight? Little plants leafing out and forming roots at the base of a single, detached leaf. This is what we are aiming for when we’re propagating succulents from leaves. The reason this works is due to specialized plant cells that form at the junction of the succulent’s leaf and stem. Called “meristem”, these cells can form roots, leaves or new plants, depending upon what is needed. As the plant grows normally, this meristem tissue forms the plant’s leaves. In times of drought, aerial roots may develop instead, to take moisture from the surrounding air. If that part of the stem comes in contact with soil, roots form. And when a leaf is separated from its plant, the meristem tissue will grow a whole new plant. Amazing!


How to Remove Succulent Leaves for Propagation
how to remove succulent leaf for propagation

For a leaf to propagate well, it must come from the plant with some of its precious meristem tissue intact.

When a succulent drops its leaves, though they are plump and firm, this is a perfect opportunity to propagate those leaves. When fallen leaves are not available, and you need to take a leaf for propagation, do it like this: Gently grasp a lower leaf between your thumb and forefinger, and move it side to side. If it is a variety that readily propagates from fallen leaves, it will release from the stem with a slight snap and with some of the meristem still attached. It is then ready for propagation.

diagram of how to remove leaf from succulent for propagation

If you simply pull the leaf away from the succulent, it is likely to leave a part of the leaf, and that all-important meristem tissue attached to the plant. When this happens, the leaf cannot form roots or new leaves. If it is removed correctly, the end of the leaf is closed. When the leaf is torn from the stem by pulling it, you will see a wound that leaks moisture. A torn leaf will never root.


Take Several Succulent Leaves to Propagate
succulent leaves sprouting leaves and roots for propagation

The success rate for propagating succulents from leaves is quite high. But it is not 100%. Although I will set aside a single fallen leaf to root, when I take leaves for propagating, I always take several. That way, you will always be successful. And who doesn’t love even more succulents?

If you are eager to get started, but don’t have any leaves handy, you can order succulent leaves for propagation from The Succulent Source. This is an inexpensive way to increase your succulent collection and knowledge at the same time!

Leave Succulent Leaves to Dry
succulent leaves sprouting new plants for propagation

There is no need to use rooting hormone or honey to encourage your leaves to sprout roots. Just leave your succulent leaves dry, and out of direct sun. I usually place mine on a bed of dry succulent soil, in a bit of shade. Until the new, baby roots form to take up water, there is no point in watering your leaves. Too much external moisture risks rotting the leaf before the plantlet forms. Over a few weeks, your succulent leaf will begin to form a cluster of tiny new leaves at the point where it had joined the stem. This is the meristem tissue in action.

succulent propagation from leaves

While your the baby plantlet develops, it draws on the moisture and nutrients stored in the leaf. This is why you want to start with a plump, healthy leaf. It will have a greater store of nutrients and moisture to support a plantlet.


succulent propagation from a single echeveria leaf sprouting roots and leaves

When the roots form, it is time to plant your succulent plantlet, so that it can support itself!

Plant Succulent Leaves Once They Root
succulent leaf propagation plantlets planted in soil

Lay your sprouting succulent leaves onto dry succulent soil. Gently cover the roots with soil. Mist with water to wet the top of the soil. Continue to mist the soil every few days, allowing it to dry in between. Eventually, the original leaf will be consumed by the plantlet as it begins to grow and prosper. Leave your freshly planted plantlets in the bright shade for 4 weeks. When the plantlets show significant growth and are well rooted in, gradually move them into more sunshine.


Congratulations! You have just propagated new succulent plants!

How Long Does Propagating Succulents from Leaves Take?
hour glass and succulents

How long will propagating succulents from leaves take? It depends. (Yes, I know that seems unsatisfying). Very generally, you will likely see your first development on the leaf within several weeks. The succulent variety, heat, humidity and the time of year will all have an impact on the propagation timeline. You can propagate at any time of the year. But some succulents are semi-dormant in the summer, while others are nearly dormant in the winter. When the succulent is naturally less active, it will be slower to propagate. In general, spring is a good time to propagate with the quickest results.

Yes, it takes as long as it takes. Don’t count on new plants of a certain size in x number of weeks or months. Even leaves taken from the same plant may take very different times to develop new leaves and roots. And a few may never develop. Just don’t give up on them. As long as the leaf is plump and not torn, there is reason to hope it will develop. If the leaf becomes mushy, or wrinkles up and dries out, it is time to discard it. Otherwise, give it more time.

succulent propagation leaves in soil

Every time I transplant, relocate or craft with a succulent, I am always alert to save fallen leaves for propagation. Now that you know the process, are you eager to start? I would love to hear how it goes for you — please leave a comment! And if you have any questions – let me know. I am happy to help!

You can do this – I promise!

P.S. Get my FREE course on succulent care, 7 Steps to Succulent Success, by subscribing. Thanks so much!

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how to propagate succulents from leaves
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This Post Has 48 Comments

  1. Nicole

    One of my favorite articles on succulent leaf propagation! Thank you for laying this out in such a simple way.

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Thank you SO much, Nicole! πŸ™‚
      This means a great deal to me.
      I hope your succulent collection grows and grows!
      ~Kat

      1. Viktoria

        I did start propagating from leaves, but one of them has a new plant, and no new roots. Is this normal? will it still grow or should I just stick with the ones with roots and plants on them? I just don’t want to throw this one away, because it has a very nice little plant growing. Thank you πŸ™‚

        1. Kat McCarthy

          Hi Viktoria,
          Fantastic! Your leaf is becoming a baby plant! πŸ™‚
          Give it a bit more time, and you should see some roots developing. Do you have it on top of some soil? The roots may grow straight into the soil, making them hard to see. But I think you just need to give them a bit more time.
          It’s exciting, isn’t it?
          ~Kat

  2. Tawny Leste-Carlson

    I’m so excited I found your site!!I was bit by the succulent bug (I’ll admit, it’s now a full-blown obsession)!a year ago, when a co-worker brought a pail to work that was full of interesting looking stems and the plump leaves that had fallen off of the stems. She said she had no idea what it was, but it was all up for grabs. If it’s a plant, I’m interested! So I did a little bit of Internet searching and found out the plant was Sedum Morganium, otherwise known as “Burrito” or “Donkeys Tail”. More Internet research taught me some basic info and propagation skills but YOUR website explains EVERYTHING easily and in full detail. In the last couple of months I’ve purchased several other succulents, all quite different from each other and now that I’ve found you, I’m confident that not only will I keep them alive, lol, they will all THRIVE!!
    There are a few other succulent pages on the internet ~ they’re not bad places to find information ~ but yours is the BEST by far. Not only do you explain in simple terms WHAT to do, you also explain WHY. I just received my newsletter from you and it’s AWESOME! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
    Tawny

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Wow!
      Tawny – you just made my whole YEAR! πŸ™‚
      That is exactly what I am aiming for – to explain the WHY so that it really makes sense. That is the way I learn best. I am thrilled you have found this so helpful! Yay!
      Please contact me with any questions! You will definitely be able to have your succulents thrive for you – and to grow your collection, too!
      Thank you so very much for taking the time to let me know this – I so appreciate it!
      ~Kat

  3. Doris Warner

    Newbie here, Thank you for “how to” I hav a stacked high hen and chicken plant and need to separate it, I also wanted to make babies but didn’t know how to. Now I do again Thank you.

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Doris,
      I am SO glad you found this helpful! Exactly what I was hoping to do.
      If you are looking to divide the succulent as well, check out my post on multiplying succulents through division.
      Please let me know if I can answer any questions!
      ~Kat

  4. Betty

    I am completely new to propagating succulents. I heard that you could from leaves so I went to a shopping center that has beautiful succulent gardens and pawed through for dropped leaves!! Found quite a few but have no idea what kind they are. I have stuck the leaves in the soil vertically. Will that work or should I just lay them on top? If just on top, how much soil underneath!? Inch, 2 inches, small pot full? I put them in our bay window that faces east but is partially blocked.

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Betty,
      So you will have a surprise as your succulent babies begin to grow! πŸ™‚
      Please remove the leaves from the soil at this point. You don’t want to cover the spot where the new little leaves will soon emerge. Just lay them flat on a couple of inches of dry succulent soil. It sounds like the lighting should be good for them!
      Once the roots develop well, dust them with some succulent soil, and mist them every other day.
      Have fun!
      ~Kat

  5. Johan Beugger

    Hi,
    I have learnt SO MUCH from your teachings !
    They are valuable to anyone that reads them !

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Johan,
      You have made my whole day — thank you! πŸ™‚
      ~Kat

  6. Mari

    Kat, thank you so much from Alberta Canada. I am new at this also, I have read dozens of article on progagation, but none tell you what do once the top or roots grow. When to plant , how to plant , in others words what do I do now.
    Mari

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Mari,
      I am so glad you found this helpful!
      Please feel free to ask any questions.
      Have fun with your new baby succulents!
      ~Kat

  7. Jasmin

    Great resource! Thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge!!! πŸ™‚

    1. Kat McCarthy

      You are most welcome, Jasmin!
      So glad you found it valuable!
      ~Kat

  8. Lisa

    Hi! I’m new at propagating. I have a few small rosettes growing off a stem that is unfortunately drying up. Is there a way to populate the rosettes? There’s no roots as they are growing off a stem, and I’m afraid they will dry up as well, like the stem (a few other very tiny rosettes that grew on the stem have already shriveled up). Thanks!

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Lisa,
      Most rosette-forming succulents will easily propagate from just the rosettes.
      If you want to send me a photo, I will be happy to take a look. But I am guessing this is an aeonium, from your description. You should be able to clip off each rosette, let it sit on top of dry succulent soil out of direct sun, and protected from cold. In time, they should form roots, reaching for the soil!
      ~Kat

  9. Kathy

    Kat, love your site, appreciate all the info. Reside in OR,mild winter so far. Can i propagate this time of year? Unheated out bldg with heat lamps. Thanks, again.

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Kathy,
      Now is a great time to play with propagation! Some varieties will do well for you, while others will be very slow. Take a look at which succulents are actively growing and which are dormant now here: https://thesucculenteclectic.com///succulent-dormancy-which-succulents-sleep-when-why/. But even those that are winter dormant will only wait – they won’t just fail.
      You might want to bring the leaves indoors, to speed up the propagation process.
      Have fun!
      ~Kat

  10. Joan Brown

    I am propagating by leaves. They have formed quite long pink roots but no babies showing. I have them laid on top of soil but not sure whether to plant into succulent soil or leave them on top.

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Joan,

      It’s exciting when they start to form, isn’t it? Different varieties develop more slowly or quickly, and its possible your plants are just waking iup (if it is a winter dormant variety). I would give them more time.
      Can you possibly send me a photo? My email is Kat@TheSucculentEclectic.com. I’d like to see how the mother leaves are doing, and what type of succulents you have. If the mother leaves still look great – you just need to be prepared to wait. The little plants will develop when they are needed.

      I’d like to take a look.

      Thanks!
      ~Kat

  11. Vivien

    Thanks for this excellent article! I have some leaves I’m trying to propagate but I don’t really know what I’m doing πŸ˜€ I may have to ask you for your professional succulent opinion soon πŸ˜€

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Vivien,
      Please feel free to ask any questions – I am happy to help! πŸ™‚
      ~Kat

  12. Richard Shimell

    Thanks for your article Kat. I enjoy reading your blog. I’ve taken some leaf cuttings of various succulents and laid them on an inch of perlite with soil beneath. I’ve lightly misted them but only a few times. Lots have roots but only a few have plantlets. Should I leave them as they are or push the rooted ones into soil or perlite?

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Richard,
      Thanks so much for reading!
      The leaves that have developed little plantlets – go ahead and dust some soil over their roots. They are ready to start growing for you. For those that still have just roots β€” give them a bit more time. If the mother leaves are still nice and plump, cut back on the misting a bit. They will develop baby leaves when they feel the need. Different varieties propagate at very different rates! Don’t let this discourage you.
      ~Kat

      1. Richard Shimell

        Thanks Kat, I’ll move them into zones in the tray and cover the successful ones now. It’s kind of you to reply to every comment!

        1. Kat McCarthy

          Hi Richard,
          That’s perfect! Please keep me posted on their progress!
          Always check how the mother leaf is doing. If it remains plump and healthy-looking, then the new plantlet is not yet drawing much of its resources.
          I think it’s kind of you to comment – so of course, I’ll reply! πŸ™‚
          ~Kat

  13. Helen

    Hello,

    I was wondering if you could possibly advise me about something please, I am a succulent newbie but after reading your wonderful advice I have now managed to propagate some succulents from leaves so thank you hugely for your help, the thing I’m confused about is that several plants have grown from both the echeveria lilacina and purposum leaf cuttings, that’s great, even more beautiful plants but what do I do to separate the and when is it safe to do so, they seem to be growing attached to each other. Do you think I’ve made a mistake?

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Helen,
      Isn’t this an exciting time? I am delighted to have been a small part of it for you! πŸ™‚
      I think you’re saying the roots of different leaves are now intermingling and tangled together – is this the case? If so, I would lift the group of leaves that are tangled, and swish their tangled roots together in water, so they gently detach from one another without damaging any roots. Let them dry completely before you return them to the soil. They just need a bit more space between them as they root.
      If I misunderstood – please let me know! And you’re welcome to send me an email with a photo so I can see what you are seeing!
      Thanks so much for reading, Helen!
      ~Kat

      1. Helen

        Hello Kat,

        Thanks very much for taking the time to reply and thanks too for the tip regarding de tangling the roots. My issue is that from one single leaf 2 purposum plants have grown, they are both perfectly formed but are growing back to back and seem to be stuck together, the liliacina has grown 4 little tiny plants from the one leaf, do I have mutants?! I’m not generally green fingered and a beginner so apologise for the questions!
        Thank you so much, Helen

        1. Kat McCarthy

          Hi Helen,
          Please – no need to apologize! πŸ™‚
          Some succulents do grow with 2 or more heads – they are really pretty cool when they do! If it were me, I would let them grow as they choose and just follow the normal procedure for growing them up. Apply a light dusting of soil over the baby roots and let them grow!
          It sounds like you are doing a GREAT job with this, Helen – enjoy it!
          ~Kat

          1. Helen

            Hello Kat,

            Thanks very much for your reply, I will leave them as nature intended and see what they become!

            Thanks again for your kind advice and best of luck to you with your succulents.

          2. Kat McCarthy

            You are most welcome, Helen!
            ~Kat

  14. Ellen

    Hello, newbie here ???? I have some leafs that have been sitting on a paper plate inside since 6/21. I just laid them on some cactus soil. Should I keep them inside or outside? I’m in zone 9, hot and humid! Thank you!

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Ellen,
      The main consideration is to protect them from direct sun, which would burn the tissues and dry out the leaves too much. Otherwise, so long as the heat isn’t above 90 degrees where you have them, they can be indoors or out, in bright, indirect light and do well for you.
      Have fun – it’s like magic! πŸ™‚
      ~Kat

  15. Kate Geaghan

    I’ve got several trays of succulents propagating, I’m getting better and better at it, it’s a learning process, but an enjoyable and worthy one. My question is this, could you tell me why many of the baby growths that come from the pup are leggy? I know why grown succulents become leggy, but these pups get plenty of sun (perhaps too much, Ive picked up from your article) and still they’re etiolated. I do have many that are growing fabulously, so stinking cute! …the ones doing well could be the same kind, and right next to an etiolated one, so this is why I’m trying to pin down the rhyme and reason. Your articles are fantastic and I appreciate you!

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Kate,
      Propagating plants is just so magical, isn’t it? So glad you’re enjoying such great success!
      I’m not sure I can picture what your new pups are doing… Sometimes succulents look like they are etiolating when they are in the process of forming a bloom stem, but I don’t think this sounds like what you’re experiencing… Can you snap a few photos and send them to me so I can see what you are seeing? Send them to me at Kat [at] The Succulent Eclectic . com
      I’ll be happy to take a look. We’ll figure it out together! πŸ™‚
      Thanks!
      ~Kat

  16. Marissa

    Hi Kat!

    I recently rescued a broken succulent from a nursery and after reading this article, I think I’ve got a handle on how to make sure it keeps growing, but I’m not entirely sure what I’ve got.

    I took a few of the bottom leaves off to propagate per this article, and then I stuck the stem of the rest of it into the soil. Is that right?? It’s a rosette type of succulent and not a woody stemmed one (by my terminology you can probably tell I’m a beginner).

    This site is amazing and I will be using it for future exploration!!

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Marissa,
      Way to go saving a mistreated succulent! πŸ™‚
      Sounds like you have got it handled perfectly! Give the stem a few weeks in dry succulent soil, then gently try to lift it. If it easily comes right out β€” put it back for another couple weeks. if it resists, then it has started to root and you can give it a small drink.
      If you’d like to send me a photo, I’ll be happy to take a look to see if I can help you to identify it. Just email me at Kat (at) the succulent eclectic (dot) com.
      Thanks SO much for the kind words!
      ~Kat

  17. Nevica McCarvel

    Hi Kat!! ☺️I have recently been starting to propagate my succulents. I have one that has been growing quite well, but I had it out on my counter and a friend accidentally cut the mother leaf almost completely in half. Should I remove the mother leaf and if so how? The baby plant is also only the thickness of a thin toothpick and about half an inch tall. Is it ready?

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Nevica,
      OOPS! πŸ™‚
      Not to worry – it sounds like the little one should be ok. I wouldn’t bother to remove the mother leaf, but do be prepared to move the baby into growing on its own sooner. The mother leaf will not provide much support much longer. For really little guys, I use a fork to pick up the soil around the roots so I don’t disturb them. Just take it slowly when you start to add more light and water. This should pull through just fine.
      ~Kat

  18. Shelly

    I have a kind of succulent that I got from a vendor fair potting booth last year. It’s stretched out several feet high! I’ve searched google and every succulent post I can find trying to figure out what kind of plant it is and what to do with it.
    Can I send you a photo and see if you’d ever encountered it?
    Thanks!

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Shelly,
      Absolutely! This is not my strength, but I’ll be happy to give it a try for you! πŸ™‚
      Send it to me by email to Kat [at] The Succulent Eclectic [dot] com
      ~Kat

  19. Carol

    Great information!
    I am new to propagation. When do I transplant them into their own pot?

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Carol,
      Once a leaf has formed baby leaves and new roots, I move it to a “group home” pot with others at the same stage.
      I move each to an individual pot once the baby plant is growing on its own β€” the mother leaf is entirely gone. I also wait for the baby plant to be about an inch across in new growth.
      Have fun with this! πŸ™‚
      ~Kat

  20. Meg

    Are Kalanchoe harder to propagate than other succulents? I’ve tried propagating several of them with no success…. all my other leaves are growing like crazy!

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Meg,
      Actually, Kalanchoe are quite easy to propagate. But they are dormant in summer, and will not root or develop until they wake up. So it can seem like they are doing nothing at all – not rooting, but usually not dying either, for months at a time, depending upon what time of year you start them. It can take individual leaves taken from dormant plants longer to “wake up” when fall arrives. You might want to keep those leaves and take new ones now. The new ones might root before the others do! πŸ™‚
      Please keep me posted on their progress!
      ~Kat

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