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As some of the ultimate, easy-to-care-for, water-wise and lovely-to-look-at decorative plants, succulents are also wonderfully simple to propagate. To propagate a plant is to grow new plants from a cutting of a stem or leaf. Yes, free new plants!

Whether you have some succulents at home you’d like to replicate or politely steal away a cutting or a few leaves from a friend’s or a public plant, this is an easy way to increase your greenery at home minus a trip to the nursery to hand over cash. It works for most succulent types (including larger plants like aloe vera and agave).

To get started, take a cutting of a succulent plant stem, making sure to get a short amount of stem that has some decent leaves.

Pull away the lower leaves from the plant carefully, ensuring that it snaps off right near the stem. If it breaks away without bringing the entire leaf with it, it will not grow new roots.

Leave the leaves and rest of the top part of the cutting to lie in the sun (if harsh summer sun, somewhere sheltered is better) for a few days to a week. This will allow the freshly cut ends of both the leaves and cutting to callous, which is where it will grow new roots from. Without being left to do this, the end can absorb too much moisture and rot once placed in soil.

Once the ends of the leaves feel dry enough, lay them directly on a tray, egg cartons or pots filled with good quality soil. Place these in a sunny spot in your garden. Water when the soil dries out, around once a week.

These leaves will start to sprout small pink roots from their ends, and then new baby plants. Once the baby plants are growing healthily and the roots are fairly established,  you could pull the old leaf away to plant them – however it can be a little tricky to do so is often easier to leave it. It will wither and fall off on its own.

As for the top part of the cutting that you have also left to callous, plant this directly into a pot of good soil, and it will grow itself some new roots too!

theslowpoke_propogatingsucculents3 theslowpoke_propogatingsucculents4 theslowpoke_propogatingsucculents5 theslowpoke_propogatingsucculents6 theslowpoke_propogatingsucculents7 theslowpoke_propogatingsucculents8 theslowpoke_propogatingsucculents9Photos: Sari Rose Sharpe // Styling: Emma Bowen

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  • Lynne

    These photos look a lot like the photo by Striped Cat Studio at West Elm.

    • The Slowpoke

      Hi Lynne, cheers for letting us know, we hadn’t seen that pic before but you are right! Succulents certainly lend themselves to looking good on a white background! Emma

  • Anabel

    Hola buen día saludos desde mi lindo México(país) estado Colima ciudad de las palmeras.. mi propósito es hacer un jardín con la gran variedad de suculentas y reproducirlas soy nueva en esto…. espero me sea fácil y lograrlo.. gracias !! Me fue de utilidad su información. .hasta pronto! !

  • Verity

    I’m new to the propogating gig, so fingers crossed this works!! It’s funny though, I keep looking for succulents when I’m driving home, and I’m debating whether I’m brave enough to knock on their door and ask for a cutting!!! I’ve just seen the most beautiful rounded one with huge silver/green leaves :) thanks very much for the info!!

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