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Propagating Succulents from Stem Cuttings

One of the most fun things about this hobby (obsession?) is propagating succulents for yourself. If you are seriously addicted to these beauties, you really need to know how to make more plants from those you already have. You can grow your collection for free, just by taking advantage of the natural abilities the succulents have devised for their own reproduction and survival. You will find many (many!) uses for succulent cuttings, and some vendors sell succulent cuttings for much less than fully rooted plants. Learning how to grow succulents from cuttings is really easy. Because I find it easier to learn something new when I understand the why’s involved, let’s look at how to propagate succulents from the plant’s perspective. ๐Ÿ™‚

How to Grow Succulents from Cuttings

{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

mixed succulents

When you propagate succulents (or any type of plant), you are taking 1 plant, and making another, or many other individual plants from it. Like all life forms, plants strive to live and to reproduce. Because they cannot run away to avoid damage due to wind, foot traffic, being munched on, etc. they have evolved methods of reproduction that can make use of these environmental hazards to make more plants.

There are three methods for propagating succulents:

These propagation methods apply to all plants, not just succulents. The easiest method that applies to the greatest number of succulent varieties is stem cutting propagation. This is the method we will focus on today. I have covered leaf propagation and division in other posts.

Propagating Succulents from Stem Cuttings

portulacaria afra variegata
Portulacaria afra variegata

There is something fairly magical about some of the stem tissues of succulent plants. Some of the cells of the plant, those located at the junction where the stem meets leaf, are capable of something amazing. These cells can form different types of growth depending upon the needs of the plant. If the greatest need is for water, these cells form roots. If the plant needs to collect sunlight to change it into nutrients, these cells form leaves. These undifferentiated cells form the “meristem tissue” of the plant. Meristem cells in plants are somewhat similar to stem cells in animals.

If a plant growing in nature has a branch broken off that drops to the earth, what happens? With succulents, that fallen branch will often sprout roots from its meristem tissues that reach into the soil, providing moisture for the remaining leaves. In time, it becomes a whole, new, self-sustaining plant. Stem cutting propagation makes use of this natural ability that plants have. It takes a part of the stem from a plant that was growing leaves and persuades it to form roots instead.

Taking Stem Cuttings for Succulent Propagation

succulent stem cuttings portulacaria afra

Portulacaria afra and its variegated siblings are among my favorite succulents. And they are perfect for demonstrating stem cutting propagation! See how many of the stems have smaller stems of their own? This gives you many opportunities for making stem cuttings to root.

Be sure to use clean, sharp pruners to take your cuttings. It helps to prevent unnecessary stress for the cutting and to prevent the introduction of bacteria. I really love my titanium coated trimming scissors, but any good, sharp pair works well.

What Size Cutting for Propagating Succulents?
succulent stem cuttings portulacaria afra and variegata

You can root any of these cuttings. All you truly need is the meristem tissue, and an intact, healthy leaf. However, you will find that cuttings of 2-4 inches long, with 2 sets of nodes for rooting, and 2 sets of leaves will be the quickest and easiest to root. You will see a node, or uncover one by removing leaves from the stem:

Remove Leaves from Stem Cuttings to Uncover the Nodes
succulent stem cuttings portulacaria variegata stem showing nodes

Do you see the 2 sets of nodes on this cutting? Each node is a point where new roots will form. So 2 sets of nodes will give you at least 4 rooting points (assuming each set has a node on each side of the stem, which is how this portulacaria grows). Four rooting points will give this new plant a good amount of rooting to take up moisture and to anchor the plant in place. It is important to keep the rooting zone in proportion to the part of your cutting that will become the top growth of your new plant. The healthy leaves will continue to provide the cutting with moisture and nutrients while it begins rooting.

Which Way Up? How to Orient Your Stem Cuttings
succulent stem cuttings portulacaria variegata large, cut

Also, take care with your cuttings to root the end that was lower on the plant when it was growing. Plants have a strict sense of up from down, and it is important to root the cutting from the point that was lower than the end that will retain its leaves. With a single stem, this is easy to determine. With a plant that has made multiple branchings, the end of the stem that is closest to the stem from which it was growing is what you will consider as “down”. You can usually tell by the way the leaves are oriented, which part of the stem should be pointed “down” in order to root. If the plant you are taking cuttings from is not clear, make note of this as you take your cuttings.

Let Stem Cuttings Callous Over
succulent stem cuttings portulacaria variegata large, cut smaller

As you take cuttings,ย lay them out in the direction they should be oriented. Set aside leaves you remove for leaf propagation! ๐Ÿ™‚ I set my cuttings on a flat of fast draining succulent soil, out of direct sun for a few days after cutting them. This gives them a chance to callous over, which reduces the chance of rot down the road.

Insert Stem Cuttings into Soil for Rooting
succulent stem cuttings portulacaria variegata large, set in soil

After 2-3 days, go ahead and insert the root end of your stem cuttings into the dry succulent soil. Give them a bit of space, but since they will not be grown to maturity here, crowding is not a problem. Once you have inserted them into the dry soil, return them to a spot out of direct sun, but that does get indirect light. Wait about 2 weeks, and then mist the soil well. From this point on, continue to mist well once each week.

Most Succulents Can Be Propagated from Stem Cuttings
succulent stem cutting aeonium kiwi
Aeonium ‘Kiwi’

The vast majority of succulent varieties propagate well from stem cuttings. This branch of aeonium kiwi can be cut down to many cuttings, one for each rosette. If you have several plants you want to take cuttings from, there is no problem rooting them in the same flat.

More Stem Cuttings for Propagating Succulents
succulent stem cutting crassula ovata
Crassula ovata

Crassula ovata is another variety that does very well with stem cuttings. Although the nodes look quite different from those of the aeonium and portulacaria, they are still quite obvious. The lines around the stem occur at each node point. This branch can be cut down into several stem cuttings.

Stem Cutting is Rooting
succulent stem cutting beginning to root

So, you have taken all of your cuttings. You gave them 2-3 days on top of dry succulent soil, out of direct sun. Then you inserted them into the soil, and left them dry for 2 more weeks. Then you misted the soil well. Continue to mist the soil well once a week for a while. Be sure to take a good look at your cuttings each time. You will see the leaves begin to dry out a bit, and become a bit wrinkled. This is a sign the succulent plant needs water. When the succulent needs water, this stimulates the development of roots. In time, you will see the leaves begin to plump up a bit more, and to look better. This is a sign that they have begun to root, and the roots are able to take up water!ย  Yay! (It is so exciting!) If a gentle pull on the cutting meets resistance – it has rooted. You can see a forked root here, and there are additional tiny little roots forming. It is time to plant this little one up, and slowly introduce it to more light.

How Long Does Succulent Propagation Take?

succulent and hour glass

Propagating succulents by stem cuttings can be done successfully much of the year. The amount of time it takes from cutting to rooting will vary with the season, length of daylight hours, temperatures, succulent variety, etc. This is not a fast process. But it is reliable. If you know you need x number of succulent plants at a certain time, plan to buy them. But to increase your collection, propagating them is a great way to go. You will also find some terrific bargains online if you are willing to receive cuttings rather than rooted plants. There are some excellent vendors who do offer succulent cuttings, either for use in crafts or as an inexpensive alternative to purchasing plants.

Should You Use Succulent Rooting Hormone?
succulent stem cuttings portulacaria aeonium kalanchoe and crassula cuttings to root

Over the past 25 years, I have experimented many, many (many) times with propagating plants of all types. I have used rooting hormones, aspirin, willow bark water, and nothing at all. I do find the hormone powder useful with really stubborn, woody perennials. But for succulents, it just does not seem to make any difference that I can tell. Why buy and use something you just don’t need?

Propagating succulents from stem cuttings works beautifully with the vast majority of succulent varieties, including Echeveria, Aeonium, Graptoveria, Crassula, Kalanchoe, Delosperma, Euophorbia, Portulacaria, Sedum, Senecio, Peperomia and more. Essentially any succulent that is formed by a stem with leaves can be reliably propagated this way. So – now that you know all about propagating succulents from stem cuttings, what plant will you start with first? I hope you are eager to get started. If you have any questions, please let me know – I am happy to help!

You can do this. I promise!

P.S. For my FREE course, 7 Steps to Succulent Success, please subscribe! Thanks so much!

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P.P.S. Why not join my Facebook Group for succulent-lovers? We talk succulent care, propagation, succulent identification and design. Itโ€™s a warm and welcoming group that would love to meet you!

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This Post Has 47 Comments

  1. Jamie

    I bought succulent cuttings online. 3 of them died, sad. The rest seem to be doing ok despite the cold and dreary days. I did let them out to callous when the weather was bright & warm. I wonder if they might have caused their death. How soon will I see rootings? I have them under Grow lights. I can send a picture, if needed. Thank you.

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Jamie,
      If the weather was too cold for them, that could have done been what killed your cuttings. Did they become soft, squishy and mushy? If so – that was the cold.
      When you are propagating succulents indoors, leave them to air dry for 3-4 days to callous over. They won’t need to be outdoors to do so.
      How soon the rooting occurs will vary depending upon the type of succulent, the conditions it is in – even the time of year. Some succulents are nearly dormant in the winter, so they will take longer at this time. So long as the cuttings are plump and firm, they will be fine until the roots develop. The grow lights can certainly help to keep them warm, but don’t give too much light before they root.
      Please do send me the photos – I want to help you get them growing! ๐Ÿ™‚ Email me at [email protected].

  2. Mary

    Hi Kat,
    I’ve just been given a lovely variety of potted succulents (young plants). However they were wet when they came and as I live in a moist area I’m having trouble drying them out and I can see some of them are not happy already and will probably soon rot. I’m worried about leaving them in their pots. Could I transfer them to the garden bed where they might drain better?

    Also I have a cutting of a lime green succulent, it’s kind of medium size variety with thin-ish leaves and loose rose shape head. Would I leave it to dry for a few days before sticking the stem into soil? Or grow it from broken off leaves?

    Thanks for your helpful site and your time!

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Mary,
      In a situation like this, I recommend you remove the plants from the wet soil. Remove the soil, and rinse off the roots if necessary. Leave them out of the soil and out of the sun for a day. Then re-pot into dry, fast-draining succulent soil. Give it another couple of days then water and let drain. I know this seems drastic, but really wet soil and plants that are already suffering – that is an “emergency”!
      If your area is quite humid or rainy, try adding pumice to your soil to improve the drainage. About 1/3 pumice to 2/3 succulent soil. Read more about succulent soil and pumice here:
      For your cutting, I would leave it to dry and callous over for about 2-3 days – out of the sun. Then insert the stem into the dry succulent soil. Give it another week or so, then mist the soil well every 1-2 weeks. It will soon begin to root!
      Please let me know if you have any further questions!

  3. Andrea F

    Hello, one of my succulents is grown indoors and I was cleaning and i put my echeveria out in the porch. I forgot to put her back indoors and it rained and her soil got very wet. While I was gonna change her into dry soil, her stem at the bottom was squishy and mushy and the part of the stem that was mushy broke and now my plant had no roots! Would this be like planting as if it were a stem cutting? Please help! I love this succulent.

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Andrea,
      You have two options here – stem cutting propagation or propagating the leaves.
      Can you send me a photo of your plant, so I can see what you are seeing?
      I think you will likely want to pop off some leaves to propagate as well as planting the stem cutting.
      You have the article on the stem cuttings. Do you know how to do leaf propagation? If not, please write to me so I can help you in detail – [email protected]

  4. John L

    Hi Kat

    Great post and site. I beheaded an Echeveria and the remnant stem – kept in its potting mix, placed under a grow light and watered as usual – has pups growing off it. Can you tell me how to propagate these? They are about 2 1/2 inches long. It’s summer here in the UK and 75-80F at the moment by the way. Should I wait until autumn (Fall)?

    So pleased to find someone else who loves Portulacaria afra. Such an elegant succulent. In your experience, what is the most common reason for constant leaf drop on these? I find they go yellow, then fall off – a lot. I’ve tried less sun, more sun, ditto water, but can’t stop it happening. Any advice appreciated.

    Also, I removed a small side stem from a Portulacaria afra and suspended it over, then in, water. It has grown roots, albeit puny ones, but two of the four leaves have dropped off. How would you advise moving this on to the next stage?

    I can email a picture of the Echeveria stem and the PA cutting if it helps. Thanks so much for your time.

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi John,
      Thanks so much for writing!
      Your echeveria pups will be simple to root. I do recommend that you wait until the fall if you expect the summer temperatures to rise further. Once the temperature is around 75 degree as a high, you can then remove those pups. The extra time may result in the pups developing their own root systems. Depending upon the type of echeveria, you may find the pups easily come away in your hand when you insert your thumbs between the main stem and the baby plant. Otherwise, I take a clean, sharp blade and slice between the main stem and the baby plant, taking care to retain the pup’s roots, if any have developed.

      Then set the pups aside for 2-4 days to allow any slice to callous over. Then set it on a pot of dry succulent soil, in bright shade. Lightly cover any roots with soil. If there are no roots and not much of a stem, just set the rosette on the soil. Lightly water the soil and let it dry. Once dry, in a few days, again water lightly and let it dry. Continue this watering method for a few weeks. Then gently lift the plant. If it comes right up, it has not yet rooted, and needs more time. If it resists you – it has rooted in! ๐Ÿ™‚ Once it has rooted in, gradually move it into more light, and gradually increase the amount of water you provide, but continue to water only when the soil is dry.

      Yes! The Portulacaria afra is an elegant plant — what a great description! But your issue sounds odd… What type of soil do you have your plant in? It should be in a great draining, succulent soil that is nutritionally lean. And do you have it outdoors, or in? Please do send me the photos so I can better answer this for you. Please email e at [email protected]. I will be happy to help!

      I have never tried the water therapy method of rooting cuttings. I suppose I should, to be better able to help people who go that route. I find the portulacaria to be about the easiest succulent to root from cuttings. I put them straight into succulent soil as soon as I cut them, then wait a week or so before the first watering. I think I would suggest the same to you at this point, except to start a light watering as soon as you put it in the soil – because they have already calloused over and begun to root. The yellow leaves here are surprising to me. I would really love to see some photos. Since the cuttings are not in soil, the issue is unlikely to be water related. Again, I wonder about possibly way too much light, or way too little.
      Sorry about this – but those photos will really help.

      1. John L

        Hi Kat

        Thanks so much for your incredibly helpful response; it really is appreciated. I will follow your instructions to the letter regarding the Echeveria pups (sadly I don’t know the variety) when the weather becomes a tad more clement. Look forward to seeing how they turn out.

        The Portulacaria is in regular succulent compost. An interesting issue, however, is that (as you will see from the photos I will email after this) I often find that a repotted plant is unstable in loose compost and so I end up packing it in very tightly. This may hinder drainage. Certainly the water (always filtered) pools atop the compost before disappearing downwards, so to speak.

        Perhaps the answer is to use a mix of succulent compost, perlite or vermiculite and grit. This will reduce the richness of the mix (so more nutritionally lean, as you so fetchingly put it) , and the grit will add stability. What do you think?

        It’s the potted PAs that drop leaves, just to clarify. Often after watering. To avoid this, I barely water them, but eventually they need a drink and then… cue droppage. Do you top or bottom water your Portulacarias out of interest? I am concerned that that the plant will take up too much water with the latter, if that’s possible.

        Many thanks again. You are a star. Photos en route shortly…

        Cheers, John

        1. Kat McCarthy

          Hi John,
          I am happy to help! ๐Ÿ™‚

          I think the succulent soil should be fine. I would encourage you to use a stake in the soil that reaches to the bottom of the container. Lightly tie the portulacaria stem to this stake to provide some support while you are waiting for it to root into the surrounding soil matrix. Please tell me what succulent soil you are using? I would not pack it so hard – I think the support will do a better job for you and your succulents. Adding perlite is a very short-term fix. It is SO lightweight, it will often “float” up through the soil, and soon will sit on top of the rest of the soil. I prefer using pumice as a soil amendment for this and other reasons.

          I typically water mine from above the soil, and pour water in under the foliage.

          I’ll take a look at your photos. Together we will get your plants healthy and happy for you!


  5. Lindsay

    Hi Kat,
    Thanks for such a wonderful and detailed post! It really has been helpful! I do have a question about propagating my rainbow elephant bush. I bought a plant that had only a single stem, but it was pretty tall (~10″). When I wanted to transplant it to some well-draining soil, I found that the roots were super tiny and it could not support itself in the looser soil. I knew it wasn’t the best season to propagate the plant, but I didn’t really want to tie the plant to a bottle until spring to keep it upright.
    So, I followed your instructions, and I made cuttings from the plant, and I let them callous, but I found that even within one day that some started to shrivel and drop a couple leaves. I figured maybe they weren’t as strong as one would typically propagate, so after one day I put them in soil and misted the top of the soil. The ends of the cuttings seemed to be closed off and calloused, but I’m not sure if I still jumped the gun and planted and misted them too early. I’ve noticed a few more leaves drop and look shriveled after a day in the pot. Any recommendations?
    Thank you very much!

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Lindsay,
      This is one of my all-time favorite plants! Let’s see if we can figure out what the trouble is.
      I wonder if the plant has been getting enough water? Sometimes, these plants will drop their leaves in very dry conditions, so they don’t lose more moisture through the leaves. At this point, though, let’s continue forward to see if they root well. While you are waiting, only mist the soil when it is dry.
      Would you be able to send me a couple of photos so that I can see what you are seeing? [email protected].

  6. Ashley

    I did a few stem cuttings of my Jade plant. One of the cuttings developed roots and I was able to plant it back in soil. I now have a off shoot coming from one of the leaves. it has grown about an inch but hasn’t gotten any bigger than that. Do I have to do something to help it grow more. If you need a picture I can send you one. Thank you.

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Ashley,
      Yes, please do send me an email to [email protected]. I’d like to see what you are seeing.
      We’ll figure this out together!

  7. Mark

    Hello Kat,
    Thank you for providing us with some much valuable information. It is a blessing to access to your insights.
    Over the last 15+ years, I have worked in growing, buying, selling & teaching about plants. Propagation has always been my favourite part.
    A permanent injury made it harder to work, but unwilling to leave the field. I started my own business, ‘Garden Coach Solutions.’ A recently added part of the business is growing & selling 2″ succulents & other specialty plants. My professional growing knowledge is mostly annuals & some perennials. Even my knowledge of outdoor succulents does not always carry over.
    Your site helps add in some of the blanks. I bought rooting stimulant with fungicide, even though I know it is not needed for most plants. I just want any extra help that does not hurt. The instruction on this and the rest state, ‘take cutting, dip or put in water, then putting in stimulant before planting in soil.’ Now, I am starting to question, “Will it work on a plant that have calloused?” Does it have to be a fresh cut? I just thought of important question, but not for you. “Will the fungicide hurt the mycorrhizae, I add to the soil.?”
    Question #2 – I was recently given a large amount of Aeonium cuttings. I have only rooted a few before, this past summer. The best success was in water. They all took a long time to root. I understand this is because they are winter growers. If I put them under the same amount of artificial light as the other succulents cutting, will this make it harder for them to root? I had them for a week. I have only planted one. I also put 5-6 in water in the same window. The rest are here and there, but only the one I potted is under the grow lights. It is very dreary in Cascadia this time of the year. Most plant need some amount of artificial lights. What is the best location to root winter growers.

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Mark,
      Thanks so much for your kind words and your questions!
      The rooting hormone will still work just fine with a calloused cutting — no need to worry there. However, if you are concerned about your mycorrhizae, (I cannot give an educated answer to that) you might want to try a more natural approach to boosting your cuttings success. If you have access to any type of willow branches – cut them into 1-inch pieces and steep them in water. Or, just take the bark and steep it. Willow bark contains salicylic acid which stimulates rooting in plant cuttings. And if you don’t have access to water – crush an aspirin in water. The active ingredient in aspirin is salicylic acid! ๐Ÿ™‚
      Your aeonium will root much faster in winter months, even when indoors. I would use your grow lights, but either keep the rooting cuttings at a bit of a distance or give them a bit longer nightly rest from it. So still give them good, abundant light from the grow lights, just not quite as much as for a well-rooted, actively growing plant.
      Thanks so much for reading! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Judy

    Do succulents need extra fertilizer? Mine seem to stretch out tall and skinny, I have them in a West window, lots of afternoon sunshine.

  9. Candice Clay

    Hello Kat,

    Thank You so very much for all you do for us. I had a severe Heart Attack the 18th of April 2018. I am Lucky to be alive. My Heart Dr. told me to get a Hobby that will release some of my stress. I as working in my garden where there has never been a sign of Cactus or Succulent of any sort. Low and behold, I almost dug her out thinking it was a weed since it was so small. It is a Beautiful and amazingly fast growing Aeonium Simsii. Well, She was my addiction to Succulents. I do have a question. When you mentioned Aspirin as a Rooting Hormone, How is it used? I also have heard about Honey and also Cinnamon. Is that true and if so, do they draw bugs to the plant. Thank You. I love reading all of your post and posts from your Fans.

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hello Candice,
      SOOOO glad to hear from you – and that you are doing so much better! What a fright that must have been!
      I have always found gardening to be such a solace – I hope your newfound interest in succulents gives you years of joy and release from stress!
      The Aeonium Simsii is a beauty! What a lucky find!
      To use aspirin as a root stimulator, just dissolve an unbuffered aspiring in the water you use to water with. It’s that simple! Salicylic acid is the active ingredient in aspirin and the same substance in willow bark that makes willow such a great root stimulator – I have enjoyed terrific success with willow bark.
      I have not tried the honey, though I have read great things about it. However, I would suggest using these for things that are tricky to root – hardwood cuttings in particular. Your aeonium should do beautifully for you without using anything else. If you want to take the “belt and suspenders approach, try the aspirin. Like you, I think the honey would attract insects and cause more problems.
      Thanks so much for reading! I hope you will love your new hobby! Please feel free to ask ANY questions!

      1. Candice L Clay

        Thank you for responding so quickly, You are so Sweet. As far as the Aspirin goes. I tablet per 2 cups? How much water?

        1. Kat McCarthy

          Sorry – I should have said! Yes, I use about 1 aspirin in 1 quart to a half gallon of water.
          Remember – you’ll use v-e-r-y little water with your succulent cuttings at first. They are completely different from “regular” plant cuttings that need to go into damp or moist soil. I put my succulent cuttings into dry soil, and wait until roots form before giving them any water.
          You are going to love succulents!

  10. Jessica

    Hello kat
    I have a question about the purple pearl echeveria propagation – so I seen a YouTube video where the female propagated her echeveria by cutting the top of the flower off and leaving the stem in the soil to re grow a new flower – now the stem feels squish and itโ€™s been over two weeks and the flower part is so squishy itโ€™s almost dead

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Jessica,
      I think you are referring to beheading an echeveria, right? Where you cut the top of the plant off and re-root it?
      It is critical to let the stem heal over for a few days before you water the soil. Otherwise, the freshly cut stem may take up too much water and cause it to rot. A mushy feel is usually a sign of rot.
      Please snap a photo of your plant or cuttings and send it to me. I will be happy to take a look and give you some pointers on how to work with any remaining healthy plant material in order to propagate it!

  11. Robyn Hecht

    Hi Kat,
    What are your thoughts on water propagating? I have found it to be awesome! But Iโ€™d love to hear an experts advice. I have been water propagating for about six months now and I find it to be super fast and easy. I use Tappinโ€™ Root as my liquid and little shot glasses to put the cuttings into. I also found my Aerogarden works wonderfully using the seed starter top. Are there any negatives on water propagation you can point out for me? Thanks so much,
    Robyn Hecht

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Robyn,
      I have looked into water propagation โ€” and it looks pretty cool!
      I see no reason why it should prove any problem whatsoever for the young plants once they grow in soil. Either way, the new roots are starting without the nutrients to be found in soil, so in water therapy, they are not losing any nutrients.
      Since you are having such success โ€” continue on! ๐Ÿ™‚
      Thanks for the great question โ€” I may do a blog post on water propagation.

  12. Christine Botha

    Thanks, Kat for the tips on propagation. I have always just fumbled around – having success sometimes and sometimes not. Now that I know exactly how it’s done, it will be a great help. I am really finding your posts so interesting and informative. I have never had a sunburnt plant. I think my succulents are very happy. They have morning sun till about 2 in the afternoon. They then enjoy some shade. My neighbour across the road from me has the opposite. Her plants – especially the ones in pots against a wall really battle as they have the blazing afternoon sun. We do struggle with our succulents in pots here in the Cape (South Africa) as we usually have very wet winters and our plants just get too much water. But then they do seem to recover. I have lost very few. Thanks again, Regards, Christine.

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Christine,
      Those succulents that have evolved in your climate will thrive with your weather conditions. Many are dormant during the blazing hot summer and awake and active to make the most of the bonanza rains in winter! ๐Ÿ™‚
      So glad you’re finding useful information.
      Have fun with your succulents!

  13. Lazy K

    I’m pretty new at this and my plants are pretty small. I haven’t had the nerve to do Stem Cuttings yet but am looking forward to doing so in the future. In the mean time I’ve had pretty good luck with leaf propagation. I’ve just recently discovered your blog and am learning and enjoying!

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi K,
      I know what you mean โ€” it can be scary to take cuttings in the beginning. You love these plants โ€” how could you possibly cut them up! ๐Ÿ™‚
      I promise – it is not just easy for you, but the succulents don’t mind. It can help them to grow bigger and better.
      There are 2 succulents that are especially great for learning stem cuttings on: Kalanchoe blossfeldiana and Portulacaria afra. Consider getting one of these plants specifically to learn about stem cuttings with. These are also great to learn about pruning, like for fruit trees.
      You may also find that some of your plants stretch over the winter, if they cannot get enough light. That will give you built-in opportunity to try your hand at stem cuttings.
      Feel free to write in with any questions!
      You can do this!

  14. marni

    how do I propagate thru stem cutting the etiolated echeveria?

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Marni,
      Simply cut the head off the echeveria (sounds drastic, I know! But it works!) right at the soil line. Remove any widely spaced leaves from the bottom 2-inches of the echeveria stem to expose the nodes on the stem. Then, proceed as above, by treating the echeveria cutting like any other stem cutting. “Plant it” in dry succulent soil and follow as above. Be sure to set aside any loose leaves to do leaf propagation with them.
      If your echeveria is extremely etiolated, you may have more than 2 inches of stem. “Plant” the cutting with the lower leaves just above the soil line.
      This sounds scary, but I promise โ€” the plant will be just fine! ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Leah

    Hi! I bought some succulents and they were very stretched out however looked decently healthy. I read the article and decide to cut it back and grow new non-stretched roots. What do I do with the bottom of the plant? I have saved many leaves to propagate them and canโ€™t wait to see what happens! I just donโ€™t want to wasted the bottom of. The plant and itโ€™s original roots!

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Leah,
      Awesome! Keep the rooted base of the plant! It will likely grow new, compact growth for you.
      Put it into bright, filtered light. Cut back a bit on the water. It no longer has all that foliage to use up the water it receives. But the roots are intact and functioning, so there’s no need to starve it for water. Wait til the soil dries between light applications of water.

  16. Jesseline

    Hi! I bought an Echeveria and Anacampseros Sunrise, both are young succulents potted in peat based soil. I was waiting for more planting materials to come before I repot them.
    However just after a few days, before I could repot them, I found my Echeveria leaves turning mushy and yellow. I read from online sources and found out the most likely cause for this could be overwatering and rot. I had went ahead to remove my Echeveria from the soil and the roots looks a little unhealthy but they don’t feel mushy, so I simply repot the Echeveria with it’s roots into a new succulent soil immediately. A few more days later, I found more yellow and mushy leaves in the morning. And when I took the plant out of the soil again to inspect, the roots looks totally brown, dry and brittle, looking even more unhealthy then the first time I removed it out of the soil. A portion of the bottom stem was also brown and seems to be shriveling. I had encountered something similar with my jade plant before, which I just left it out the soil to dry further without cutting any parts away, and my jade plants eventually died. So this time I decided to cut the suspected rotted parts away. I cut the Echeveria off its stem, a few cm above the brown parts. About 2 days later, one of the leaves still turned mushy even after stem cutting. Is this a signal that my Echeveria can no longer be saved?
    Now, the Echeveria cutting is out to callous over for the past 4 days since I cut the stem, with very very few leaves left. I have decided to get a new succulent soil but it will take another 2-3 days to arrive. Is it ok to leave my Echeveria stem cutting out for another 2-3 days before I stick it into the new succulent soil?

    For my Anacampseros Sunrise, it also started to show some symptoms which I suspect to be overwatering too (leaves turning mushy). I removed it from the soil and the roots are still white (looking healthier than the Echeveria roots), with no obvious mushy or very brown parts. I left it out to dry this time, instead of planting it into a new soil immediately. It has been 4 days since it is out. As of yesterday, I noticed a few parts of the roots have turned brown (so I went ahead to cut those brown, shriveled, unhealthy looking roots away), and in one of the branches of stem, the stem turned soft and mushy in the middle and couldn’t hold the plant (it breaks off after I held the plant straight up to inspect the roots, so I cut back the stems to remove the mushy parts for both the original body and the stem that broke off). Now the plant still looks ok. But similarly, the new succulent soil will only arrive in another 2-3 days, do you think I can continue to leave the plant out until the soil comes?

    I am new to succulents, and my first succulent jade plant had died ):
    Not sure if I am doing things right to save them. Appreciate your advise to help save my succulents!

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Jesseline,
      So sorry you have had such a tough time with your succulents! I would love to have you join y new Facebook group for succulent-lovers! That way, you could get support and feedback every step of the way.
      It sounds like you are on the right track. You can save overwatered succulents with quick action. Taking the plant out of the pot is a great first step. If the soil is still wet, remove the soil from the roots. Leaving the plant out of the pot for a few days โ€” even out of the soil โ€” can rescue an overwatered plant before it rots. Once rot sets in to the stem or roots, you must cut away all signs of rot.
      Both Anacampseros and Echeveria propagate well from stem cuttings. The Anacampseros will be slow โ€” don’t give up on it!
      But you can also propagate Echeveria by individual leaves.
      Once you can plant in good succulent soil, watering and keeping your succulents healthy will be much easier.
      I hope we’ll see you in the FB group!

  17. Kate C.

    Hi! Thanks for your info. I received a large dish garden with a variety of succulents, most very long and leggy, even growing over the sides 8 inches or more. A couple of them got broken off but were still very long stemmed. (There are still many that need to be trimmed way back.) I cut some of the stem into 2-3 inch pieces and placed them on top of some loose soil. Is it possible these will callous over and grow roots? They have no leaves but appear to be healthy stems. I placed the tops and about 2โ€ of stem in a nice clay pot with well draining soil. I did not leave them to callous over though! This was about 2 weeks ago and they look ok so far. Should I pull them out of the soil for a few days and then replant to try and root? Recut the stem of its looking like rot and hope it callouses? How deep should you place the stem with leafs or should it be laid down on top of soil to root? It appears these plantings have been ignored for a vey long time and Iโ€™m excited to try and give them better form and make them beautiful again. Thank you!

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Kate,
      Sounds like you have a great project to work on!
      As long as the succulent soil is dry, when you put cuttings into it and leave it dry, the stems will callous. It’s simply skipping a step. Yes, I would expect your stems to have a chance to sprout roots for you. I would pull the arrangement apart, and cut everything back as far as you need to. Continue to care for the rooted bases – they should develop new top growth. When you insert a cutting into the dry soil, you need to covver at least 2 nodes to have a good chance of rooting. I like to cover 4 nodes, if possible.
      As long as the cuttings look good, you’re doing just fine. Don’t water until a gentle tug meets resistance, meaning it has roots.
      You can do this!

  18. Nichole

    Please help! I was away for two weeks and my parents were watering my plants. My PA drops leaves now anytime you touch it or move it or even if itโ€™s just sitting still. Iโ€™ve also noticed 2-3 places of white fuzz/mold-looking growth. How do i make it healthy again?

  19. Carole

    i wish i had found your blogs sooner! How amazingly informative they are. i live in durban south africa, where we do not get many products adapted for succulents. There’s no succulent soil mix, etc. trust me. Durban is sub tropical and we have LOTS of rain during summer. Which combinations of soil components would be good for me to use?

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Carole,
      In general, you are aiming for 20-33% organic matter like potting soil, pine bark, compost or coco coir and 67-80% inorganic matter like pumice, fine gravel (rinsed) or coarse sand. (Do not use beach sand or fine sand). With so much rain, especially in the summer, I would definitely lean toward a higher amount of the inorganic material. You want FAST-draining soil at all times, but especially when the weather is hot.
      Once you get your succulents in fast-draining soil, please come and join us in my new Facebook group for succulent-lovers! We’d love to have you join us!

  20. Clare

    Hi Kat, I took a stem cutting from a branch from a, overgrown hen and chicken succulent. It is brown, hard ish stem. I let it dry a few days than plant it in the soil, mist 1 or 2 times a week. But the stem never rooted. It dried out. I failed twice. What did I do wrong?

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Clare,
      Put the cut stem straight into DRY succulent soil. Leave it completely dry for 2 weeks. Then, try to “lift” the cutting out of the soil. If it slides right out, replace it and leave it for another 2 weeks. If it resists you, then it is time to water, lightly.
      My guess is that you were working with dormant plants, and may have given them too much water before they were ready for it. To be sure, I’d love to get more information. Why not join me in my new Facebook group for succulent-lovers? Post photos before you take your cuttings, and I’ll walk you through the process!

  21. Celina

    Hi, I’ve had succulents for about two years now. My problems are always with echeveria! The last one etiolated and couldn’t be saved when I tried to propagate the cutting. Now my new one (painted lady) has stem rot. I bought it online and only watered it every 15 days (even felt the soil to be sure it was dried out), yet the stem developed rot. I’ve had to cut quite a bit off – two adjoining stems are set on soil to see if they’ll develop roots, and I’ve done similar with my main rosette (which is basically stemless). I’m hoping these can callous over and grow new roots, but is there something I’m doing wrong? I’d love any insight. Thanks!

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Celina,
      Sorry you are having such issues! It can be really frustrating to figure out what these plants want at first.
      The main thing I’d like to do here is to review the watering schedule. I am not a big fan of watering succulents at set intervals, because it can be so easy to over do it, and then the plants rot. So, please remember that proper watering involves:
      – how much water
      – how often
      – fast-draining soil is a MUST
      – container should have good drainage
      – decent air circulation is important
      – water only when the plant is actively growing and not dormant
      Whew! There is SO much involved in how to water succulents – that’s why I wait for the succulents to tell me when they want water.

      As for propagating, are you using DRY soil, and giving the plants the time they need to root? With Echeveria during the active growing season, it can take a 3-6 weeks.

      Please follow the info above, and I think it will help. But you might also want to join my Facebook group for succulent-lovers. There, we can converse, and I can better assist you at each step of the way. And we have thousands of members from all over the world who will help you, too! ๐Ÿ™‚
      We’d love to have you join us!

  22. Celina

    Thank you, first of all!
    I have set the petals and stems on dry soil, yes, and placed them in indirect light. The rosette and stems have only been sitting a few days (those are the ones I needed to remove the rot from), but one petal has been sitting for over a month. It has started to grow a tiny root, which is encouraging. It’s good to know that 3-4 weeks is normal – I didn’t realize it could take so long!
    In the future, if my rosette and stems make it, I’ll put some more gravel for drainage and give a few more safety days when I start thinking it may be time to water. Lesson learned!
    I’ve requested entry into the Facebook group. Looking forward to all the succulent lover vibes. Thanks again!

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Celina,
      It can definitely take 3-4 weeks or even longer, depending upon the type of succulents and the time of the year. You have a baby root! That’s awesome! Stay the course.
      Adding grit for better drainage is almost always a great choice for succulents. And, if the succulent does not appear to be really suffering from a lack of water, waiting several days after you think it’s time to water is a great choice!
      Welcome to the Community! We’re delighted to have you join us!

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