Multiply Your Succulents: Let’s Propagate Some Plants!
So you finally figured out how to keep your echeveria alive—congrats! Now, our resident be-leaf-er Susie Lee—when she’s not answering your pressing Qs, you can find her here—will show you how to propagate them, which just means using their starfish-like qualities to your advantage. It’s basically magic!
“First off, identify the leaf you want to propagate from an existing succulent. I usually like to go for the bottom ones, because they’re a little bigger. I also like to find areas that feel a little stuffy with too many leaves because those leaves will be much happier on their own. Once you choose the leaf, hold it at the base near the stem and just wiggle gently. It should pop right off, and you’ll hear a little snap. It won’t hurt the plant at all—it will actually help it grow more. You can do this with a few leaves at a time.”
DRY 'EM OUT
“Once you have your leaves plucked, you need to dry them out a bit. You need the end of the leaves to callus (which is a common propagating term). Succulents absorb and store water in their leaves, so if you put a freshly plucked leaf on soil, it will try to soak up all the moisture and get waterlogged. This is the most important part, which people tend to forget. So just put them on a plate and leave them in the shade for a two or three days, with no sun or water. You’ll see the part that was attached to the plant stem get sealed off."
MAKE A MANDALA
“Once the leaves have callused, place them on a bed of succulent soil. I usually sprinkle a thin layer (about two to three inches) on a tray or a plate. And then—this is my favorite part—you can lay them out in a design, so they look really pretty. Succulent mandalas have been trending lately—on Instagram, #propagationmandala is great to see what people are doing. Succulent queen @jenssuccs goes all-out with them, too, if you need inspiration. Then you’re going to leave them out there for another couple of days.”
SPRAY IT OFF
“Now mist them with water. Get a little spray bottle and thoroughly spritz your tray of leaves every one to two days, when the soil is dry. You want them to be in either full or indirect sunlight. And I like to say nice things to them! I’m a huge fan of talking to plants.”
GET TO THE ROOT
“In anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on what you’re growing, you’ll see little hair-like roots sprouting. Just continue to spray them every one to two days, and they’ll keep growing like this. If you're lucky, you'll see a colorful little bud appear at the end of the leaf. And as the new plant grows, you’ll notice the mother leaf starts to wilt a little more—the baby plant is literally taking the life from the mother leaf to grow, and eventually won’t need it anymore. It will either fall off on it’s own, or you can tap on it gently to see if it will fall off.”
“Once the mother leaf comes off, your baby succulents are ready to be planted in soil. Don’t wait too long—since they are not getting any nutrients from the big leaf anymore, they’re ready to live in their own home! Make sure you’re using a good little pot with drainage and succulent soil. Then make a little hole with your finger, stick the guy in there, and put the dirt around, making sure it’s snug. A new plant does like some water on the first day, so spray the soil around it until the top layer is wet. Then water once every week in the summer and the spring, and once every two weeks in the fall and winter. The key here is to just watch them. If the leaves start to shrivel up, that means the plant is really thirsty and needs more water. If the plant is just mushy, you’ve over-watered it. It might be able to come back from dryness, but mushiness means that your succulent is dead. But if that happens, don’t feel too bad—my motto is that you have to kill a plant three times before you really know it.”