How to Plant a Succulent Without Roots

Plant a succulent without roots in substrate

Do you want to know how to plant a succulent without roots? You probably bought or were given a succulent as a gift and just realized that it has no roots.

Or maybe you have a cutting or sprout that doesn't have a root either, but you want to propagate.

Don't worry, succulents are one of the plants that can generate roots most easily.

Therefore, finding that your succulent has no roots doesn’t mean that it is hopeless or that it can no longer grow roots.

There are two main methods to stimulate new root growth in succulents and in this article, I will explain each in detail.

Succulent without root Crassula Moonglow
Photo by @thesaltyplants

Growing roots with water therapy

I know, it sounds a bit strange to put a succulent in water therapy to grow its roots, being that one of the most common causes of death in succulents is precisely drowning or excess of water.

However, this method is not about submerging the succulent directly in water, but placing it very close to the water to force the plant to generate roots and make them grow to the point where the roots can reach the water.

In most succulents, when roots are generated by this method, they tend to grow thicker and more elongated compared to those grown in soil or substrate.

To stimulate root growth by this method, first place water in a disinfected glass or transparent container.

Note: the above does not mean that the method cannot be done with colored containers, but with a transparent one it will be easier to monitor the growth process and detect unwanted patterns.

Then cover the top of the glass with plastic or a transparent bag. This is to prevent insects from entering and contaminating the water or damaging the plant.

Make a small hole in the plastic, just big enough for the stem of the succulent to fit through. Insert the stem through the hole, making sure that it is at 3-5 centimeters from the water so that it has oxygenation.

Plant a succulent without roots with water therapy
Photo by

It is very important that the steam does not touch the water so that the plant does not drown and end up rotting. It is also important to place the container indoors (not outdoors) but in a place that has good lighting, for example, near a window or balcony. Once the roots are fully grown, you can remove it from the container and plant it in a pot with substrate and give it the normal care for succulents.

Placing them in dry substrate

When a succulent is decapitated because of damaged roots or in case of removing an offshoot that has no roots, there is another way to make its roots grow.

Leave the decapitated succulent or the offshoot in a place with good air circulation, away from direct sunlight, and in upright position (hanging or propped up) to promote the healing process.

Let it rest for 2 to 3 days before placing it on a dry substrate, which will promote both healing and the growth of roots.

Once healed, place it in a pot with dry substrate and do not water until at least a couple of roots have emerged. Without roots there is no way to take nutrients from the substrate.

Plant succulent without root in dry soil
Photo by

When it has its roots, you can begin to give it the normal care and watering always waiting until the substrate is completely dry before watering it again.

Best method to plant a succulent without roots

It will depend on what species of succulent without roots you have. Some tend to do better with one therapy or another.

However, generally water therapy is the most effective technique for generating roots, not only because of the speed but also because of the number of roots it generates versus the substrate technique.

MethodNumber of rootsEstimated time
Water terapySeveral, many sizes1 week
SubstrateModerate, few roots2-3 weeks
The amount of roots only applies at the beginning, when the succulent has no roots. Once the first roots have grown, it will always be more advisable to grow the succulent in substrate.

Undoubtedly, succulents are plants that surprise for their resistance and adaptability in adverse environments, even when they lose their roots.

With patience and doing the techniques correctly, you can successfully save succulents without roots, stimulating their growth and eventually allowing them to grow like any other succulent within a few weeks.

I hope this article has been informative and helpful in your succulent care journey. If you know of another way to plant and grow a succulent without roots, feel free to share it below in the comments so we can all learn about alternative methods.

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Yizet Castañeda

I am passionate about travel, decoration and plants. In this blog I share everything I experience and learn about succulents. I hope it will help especially those who are just starting in this world.

  1. Robbin says:

    I'm trying to propagate my mint plant and an other one that kind of looks like a aloe vera plant. The mint I put some in water and some in soil, the other plant I layed on a plate to dry out. Which method should I be doing for the mint and is laying the other plant on a plate to dry out the right way to get it to grow roots.

    1. Hey Robbin! Due to the thinness of the mint leaves, I think that soil will be the best option, but it is always good to experiment and see which option gives you the best results. As for the aloe vera, as long as the plate has soil with a depth of 3-4 cm it is ok and will probably grow roots.

  2. Brooke Hoeffner says:

    Hi! I just have a few follow up questions to your blog about water therapy for succulents to encourage root growth. I just want to clarify, are you referring to whole succulent plants that don’t have a root system or are you referring to just the leaves/clippings taken for propagating? Or perhaps, it will work for both?

    Also, I’m a little bit confused about something and I’m hoping you can please clarify for me, it looks like you posted pictures of a succulent you were using water therapy for…you show a before pic with no roots and an after pic where the root system has just absolutely exploded and the entire glass is just loaded with roots! It’s amazing! My question is about the water part. In the blog you advised to suspend the plant 3-5cm above the water, is that correct? You actually said it’s important that it doesn’t touch the water because we don’t want it to drowned and start to rot. Did I get that right? What’s throwing me though is the before and after pics that you posted show the stem of the succulent in the water.So it has me very confused. When you have a moment, can you please just clarify that for me? I’m very excited to try this technique and want to start asap!! I hope I’m lucky enough to get similar results!

    1. Hi Brooke, sure! To your first question, I have only tried with whole succulent plants with success in many cases but not all. However, you could try with cuttings, it may work as well, but the success rate will most probably be even lower.

      Regarding your second question, you are correct. The recommendation is to suspend the plant 3 cm above the water when it has no roots at all. But once the plant has grown its roots, they will most probably reach the water and it’s ok to leave them if you notice that the plant is looking good. However, the best option will always be to transplant it to a pot with soil and water the soil as opposed to keep it in the water permanently.

      Good luck!

  3. Karen Fink says:

    I have really enjoyed reading everything you have written about succulents and rooting them. There seem to be lots of different ways of rooting succulents. Wish me luck!

    1. Hey Karen! You can try all the methods and see which one works best for you. Good luck with the rooting and tell me how it went! 🙂

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