Intro: Propagating Succulent Leaf Cuttings
This is a popular search topic on my gardening blog so I thought I'd share it here.
I grow cacti & succulents indoors and sometimes the plants get leggy and look stretched because there isn't enough light available indoors over the winter. The way to prevent this is to give your plants the amount of light they require. But when that isn't an option you can always freshen up your plants but taking cuttings and making new plants.
If you're happy with the way your plant is growing or looking you can also use this method to propagate them and make more to grow or give away. No special chemicals or hormones are needed for most succulent plants and as you'll see sometimes you don't even need soil. No parts of the plant will go to waste.
Step 1: Choose the Succulent Plant You Want to Propagate
In this case my Echeveria ("hens 'n chicks" in some places) was etiolating because there wasn't enough light coming in the window where it was growing over the winter. Look at the image and notice how the growth that occurred over the winter is widely spaced compared to the compact growth at the top.
When a succulent plant begins to grow like this you have a couple of options. You can remove the lower leaves and plant it deeper or you can do what I did. I first removed the lower leaves and set them aside to dry for about three days in bright (but indirect) light. The reason we do this is because we have to let the cuts callous over to prevent rot. The second thing I did was cut off the top and also set it aside to dry for three days. What you're left with is just the "stump" of the original plant but even that you should keep because it will send out new leaves and plants that you can cut off and also root later.
After the three days you can simply set your leaf cuttings on a pot of soil and wait for them to root. The top portion that you removed can also be inserted into soil and rooted. The "stump" we created should be kept somewhere shady and not watered much if at all until new growth appears.
Step 2: What the Cuttings Will Look Like
After a couple of weeks this is what your new plants will look like. The pot on the right is the "stump" we were left with after we removed the top portion of the plant and all the lower leaves. If you look closely it is growing two new plants out of the sides of the stem.
in the pot on the right we now have an Echeveria growing nice and compact the way they do when they have the proper amount of light given to them during the growing season.
But what about the leaves I mentioned earlier?
Step 3: Even the Leaves Can Be Rooted
The two leaves in the center were actually leaves I lost on the porch when I originally removed them from the plant. They fell behind a bench and got lost and forgotten but have grown at a faster rate than the two leaves on the outer edges which were sitting on top of a pot of soil. Once your cuttings have started to form roots you can pot them up and treat them like regular plants.
As you can see you don't need any special rooting hormones or chemicals or soils to root may of the succulents you have in your home or that you can find in your nearest garden center. You don't even need a whole plant if you happen to come across a leaf of a succulent plant you like or if you ask someone for a leaf you can propagate it and grow your own plant.
On my plant blog I get asked if Aloes can be rooted like this and though I've never tried it everthing I've read indicates that they are one of the few succulent plants that can't be propagated through leaf cuttings. Jade plants cuttings can also be easily rooted.