Introduction: How to QUICKLY Root/Propagate Succulents From Leaves

Picture of How to QUICKLY Root/Propagate Succulents From Leaves

Succulents will root without any human intervention/interference whatsoever. Most will sprout roots and form new plants wherever they fall, be it the patio floor under the parent plant, or the trunk of the car where some busy mom knocked off a few leaves. However, it can take weeks and weeks for Mother Nature to get Her process on. I have found that spraying the leaves with water every day will speed up the process, but alas, I am not only horribly impatient, I'm also terribly lazy... And thus, I came up with this method :

  • easy to do, with stuff you already have
  • works quickly, with little maintenance
  • newly formed roots are easily seen
  • works with most succulents leaves, hens-and-chicks, and sedums
  • will probably also work on a variety of houseplants (will test it out and update later, but spider plants seems a good candidate for this method)

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

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You will need:

  • succulent leaves, mooched from a friend is best because it's free (or buy a plant and make 180 new ones)
  • a hot-food container from the deli of your local grocery store is ideal, but you can also use aluminum trays with matching lids, or just any tray-like container and some plastic wrap
  • small rocks or chunky gravel
  • good, thick paper towels
  • *rooting hormone; completely optional as this method works pretty well, and succulents are easy to root to start with, but since I had them on hand, why not?

Step 2: Line Your Container

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Line your container with the rocks or gravel. It will help air circulation and ensure that your rooting environment won't stay too wet.

Step 3: Lay It On

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Lay 2 layers of paper towels onto the gravel, and pour on a bit of water, a couple of spoons or so. Don't worry if you overdo it, because that's what the rocks are for.

Lay your succulent leaves on wet paper towel.

**Some folks recommend letting freshly picked leaves air-dry a couple of days in a cool, dry place to "callus" over, but since mine were scraped off said friend's patio where they've sat for a while, this was a moot point for me.


If you choose to use the rooting hormone, tap a small amount out to use in a disposable bowl or plate . I did that onto some construction paper in a paper bowl so that the white powder would be visible, and I can toss the whole thing away afterwards.

Dip the stem end of the leaves into the rooting powder, tap gently to remove excess, and lay it it on.

Step 4: Cover and Wait

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The nifty hot-food container has built-in holes for ventilation, but you can either put some in yours, or loosely cover with plastic wrap. Keep somewhere with bright indirect light. (I've got mine on some cheap plastic shelving in my daughter's room because it gets great lighting)

The second pic is an aluminum tray with loose plastic wrap, lined with mulch instead of rocks (experimenting), and looks a bit downtrodden, but should still work!

Step 5: Wait for Sproutlings!

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Check the moisture every few days, mostly in case of curious little persons who peeked in and forgot to replace your lid. Add a spoon of water if needed. Since the sproutlings are not directly using the water, I figured it was safe to use my ultra-heavy tap water. In about 2 weeks, your succulent leaves should look like this, or at least have some nice roots!

*Nice thing I've noticed: If allowed to dry out (thanks to little persons), progress will halt, but will resume when you re-wet the paper towel, rather than wilt and die off like soft cuttings like basil and coleus.

Step 6: Ta-da! Plant an Uber-mini-tabletop-garden!

Picture of Ta-da! Plant an Uber-mini-tabletop-garden!

Transfer to pre-moistened cacti growing medium. The roots are not anchored yet, so moving them is just a matter of placing the leaves wherever you want. Loosely cover the new plantings with plastic wrap or clear lids for a few days until the plants are established.

Step 7: Pitfalls

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The drawback to this method is that because of the high moisture, imperfect leaves with any nick or scratch will rot quickly! And it does not seem to work for these two plants : sedum burrito, and the nameless Shrek-ear looking one. It's been 3+ weeks, and I have yet to see roots on any leaves from them. And one hybrid of hens-and-chicks just disintegrated overnight after being put in the box.

(Don't that let last bit scare you, I have other species of hens-and-chicks, as well as many sedums, that are rooting like crazy in that humidity!)

Step 8: So Tiny!

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Hope this was clear and helpful! Happy growing!


CarolinaX1 (author)2017-12-09

Very good method!! Thank you!

StaceyL20 (author)2016-03-11

Thank you! The 'Shrek Ears' or 'Gollum' I have labeled Crassula Argentea from the Jade Plant family. I hope that's correct. My husband 'helped me' all on his own to 'straighten' my plant tags the other day and a few made it straight to other plants. ;-)

tim_deters_88 (author)StaceyL202017-10-22

"Shrek Ears" are commonly referred to as Hobbit Jades, scientific name Crassula ovata.

EmmaSurf (author)StaceyL202017-07-29

Just another comment on the Shrek - I have another hybrid called "Ogre Ears" that says it is similar to 'Gollem' - since I don't have 'Gollem' I can't compare, but sounds like they are popular enough they are making multiple hybrids. Mine is still small so I don't know what the mature plant will look like, or how large.

MylesS3 made it! (author)2017-08-23

I used a similar method to this using a plastic container, some window screen mesh, skewers, and rubber bands. It worked well, but I didn't like having to constantly maintain the water level, and the rubber bands were tedious. I think next time I try this I'll glue the mesh to a frame made out of popsicle sticks or foam. Then put strips of something (maybe popsicle sticks) across the frame to rest the leaves on. It would float and stay level with the water. I mostly wanted to comment, because I was delighted to see you refer to one of the plants as the "Shrek ear" one. That's what I've been calling mine, and I also found it didn't propagate with the method I tried (you can see it in the photo)

tim_deters_88 (author)MylesS32017-10-22

"Shrek Ears" are commonly referred to as Hobbit Jades, scientific name Crassula ovata.

SpeedieJ (author)2016-06-19

Hi everyone.

My name is Icelene Jordan.

I live in NC a little town called Harmony.

And I am writing to everyone today because I would like everyone that can are will help me out on this.

School is out and some kids on the streets due to know one is out to help them.

I love helping pp I do alot of couponing to help pp in need.

But as school is out I would also like to help our children around our little town.

I want to help the start growing plants .And as I see the best one to do is Succulents Plants.

I think this will help kids to learn of take care of things by putting care and love in to there plants.

But as I look in to price of Succulents I am asking if you pp out growing these will send me a cutting from yours to help me out on this .I will keep a record of how things are going with this.

So if you could help out I would love it.

Thank You

Icelene Jordan

161 Grose Street

Harmony N.C 28634

beamerpook (author)SpeedieJ2016-06-19

Wow, that's awesome of you! I'd love to help, however, I no longer have my collection of succulents to share. Moreover, I think growing succulent is not a good project for kids, as they are extremely slow growing. Even this "fast" technique takes weeks before you see a growing plants, and it slows down dramatically after that. I think kids will quickly get bored after the third day of "planting" succulents, and they look exactly the same...

Maybe you should look into COMPOSTING WITH WORMS. It's a project I've been promoting lately. It's great for children of all ages, and it spreads awareness of garbage waste and our environment, plus it makes great organic fertilizer for free. As I get more involved in this, I plan on eventually reaching out to schools and community projects and getting more people involved. Here is couple links for you to check out. (And I'm not funded or in anyway profiting from these links, only want to share my interest.)
This site also has a FB page that is a wonderful community full of worm loving folks, including several large scale experts.

And here is my humble worm bin that I made last year.

If you are interested or have any questions, message me, and I'll be happy to help. I also have worms I'm willing to share, if it comes to that. :)

Good luck, whatever project you end up doing!

EmmaSurf (author)beamerpook2017-07-29

That's a great idea. Where I love in California our town is focused on reducing waste, and they sell fancy worm bins at a deep discount (but I also made a perfectly good one similar to the linked instructables). Reps from or one of the utilities will do a presentation for schools, so there might be something similar in other areas (or master gardeners might provide that). Kids love them, and getting the right worms, learning how to keep properly moist so no smell, means even the parents will not cringe when the kids want to build one. Even apartment dwellers can have a smaller version so no one is left out.

If you do want to focus on gardening, though, as mentioned sunflowers are great. Also radishes are a good choice - they grow easily and fast, they don't get too large so each kid can have a separate container, and the fact that the radish is the surprise underground is always good. It's amazing how many children don't know where their food comes from.

SaShay707 (author)SpeedieJ2016-06-30

What a wonderful thing to do! Children love garden time. I live next to an elementary school and my house backs up to the school garden. Children love to grow things. As beamerpook ,our host, said, they grow so slow. I'm a mother of four and they abandoned our project of a succulent garden growing out of an ol'gutted gas grill with a swiftness which I though was cool...its like living, moving art. However, I gave them giant sunflower seeds and pumpkins (bother such fast growing plants) and they love taking care of them.
Good deeds, are beautiful things.

DIYWEAPONS (author)2017-07-12

Great tutorial; quick, simple, effective. Nice work mate!

Meowsfairygarden (author)2016-11-27

Hello I need help. My succulent cuttings aren't growing anything and iv'e tried moisture, towels and rocks, along with many other methods but they just rot away. I bought some "rescue" succulents as well that are in pretty bad condition and most of them rotted away the first week. Anyway I could save them??

SaraS115 (author)2016-04-16

Hello! I read somewhere at honey is a good rooting hormone, is that correct?

beamerpook (author)SaraS1152016-04-17

I have heard that too, but I have never tested it out myself.

SaraS115 (author)beamerpook2016-04-18

oh okay, i will try it and see how it works!

KathleenM46 (author)2016-04-18

This was very helpful. Thank you.

faceboogerz (author)2016-02-03

this is so Kool. ..thanks for sharing

AlisyaC (author)2016-01-16

I have the shriek ears too.. my pots said they have the nickname Gollum.. so that what i call my 2 clumps of them... i had never heard of rooting hormone till i was looking up how to keep my cuttings from withering away but i propagate mine in a diamond shape terrarium and they do fantastic! Though i bought a lavender one end of season and its leaves don't propagate well in it but green ones do im thinking not enough light for them

AlakS (author)2015-06-12

I still have to try cause leaving out doesn't help in rooting I will try your method for sure!

The Oakland Toy Lab (author)2015-06-11

Oh so neat! I will definitely propagate with this method with my students!

MinhN4 made it! (author)2015-06-07

Here! My new succulent in Vietnam

beamerpook (author)MinhN42015-06-07

Hay quá! Bạn trồng cây nầy bao lâu? Is growing succulent a popular thing in VN?

woodland sprite (author)2015-05-30

very nicely done :D

sassy_pumpkins (author)2015-05-29

Great instructable! Another great set of plants to propagate easily for loads of new plants are begonias, although lots of other plants can be propagated this way too (I have had great success with steptocarpus plants with this method too). Get a container of seed soil/compost and mud with some sharp sand or grit for good drainage. Choose the leaves you will use, making sure they are healthy leaves and using a clean knife, slice just on the outside edge of the central vein going down the middle of the leaf. Do the same with the other side of the leaf. Now if you have rooting hormone, you can dip the cut edge of the leaf, but really it isn't nevessary. Make a dip in the soil long enough for the leaf to fit and 'plant' the leaf, cut side down in the soil...each cut side vein will produce a baby plant and roots. Pop 2 wooden sticks at each end of the container and cover with cling film, using sticks just to keep plastic off the leaf/leaves. It can take a couple of weeks to notice the baby leaves, and don't forget to mist the compost or dunk in a bowl of water for a minute if your container has drainage holes in it. But don't over water.

Haha, thank you. And I'm working on an Instructable almost exactly what you're describing. Should have it published by the end of the day. Thanks for commenting :)

beamerpook (author)beamerpook2015-05-29


FreddieBarlett (author)2015-05-26

The fact that I haven't thought of this way of growing succulents is just unbearable xD My mum has lots of succulents and yet I wanted to buy some to make a terrarium for my girlfriend. Thank you again xD

Glad the idea is helpful! But mind you, they will still grow slowly, so if you're looking for fully planted terrarium, you probably want to get actual plants. Or at least mooch large cuttings from your mom!

That's actually great xD I will make a mini version of it, it will look much cuter.

About This Instructable




Bio: Wife and mother, and jill-of-all-trades. I can garden and grow things, crochet, knit, embroider, cross-stitch, sew, make hairbows, cook, make bread, woodburn, craft jewelry, hula ... More »
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