How to Propagate Succulents from Leaves
Succulent leaf propagation a very particular method that only occurs in this type of plants.
It is possible due to the amount of water that succulents store in their leaves and their ability to generate roots even in these conditions.
This complete guide will serve you to understand the key points of this method of reproduction, materials, and care that it requires, and the step by step you must follow to make a successful leaf propagation.
- Succulent leaf propagation: The method
- Step 1: Remove the leaf
- Step 2: Disinfect the container
- Step 3: Fill the container with substrate
- Step 4: Place the leaf in the container
- Step 5: Put the container in a place with indirect light
- Step 6: Cover the roots and water the substrate
- Step 7: If you propagated multiple leaves, transplant to individual pots
- Common problems in succulent leaf propagation
These are the materials needed to propagate succulents from leaves:
- Plastic tray or container not too high
- Substrate for succulents
- Spray bottle for irrigation
- Succulent leaves to propagate
Succulent leaf propagation: The method
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to propagate succulents from leaves:
Step 1: Remove the leaf
Carefully remove the leaf, making sure to remove it completely from the base and that no fragments are left on the stem. It is best to use the lower leaves.
When removing the leaf, try to do it as if you were turning it - from left to right and vice versa - the margin of error is much smaller than when you simply pull it with force in one direction.
Note: If you have cut the leaf wrongly and a part of it has remained on the stem, the reproduction will not work. Therefore, you will have to cut another leaf to propagate and dispose of the one you cut wrongly.
Step 2: Disinfect the container
Pour a little alcohol into the spray bottle and spray the base and sides of the container to disinfect it.
It is recommended to do it with a spray bottle because this way, you leave a finer spray that will reach all parts of the container without leaving puddles or excess moisture.
This disinfection is necessary to prevent mold and pests that could attack the leaves during the propagation process.
Step 3: Fill the container with substrate
Add the substrate into the container making sure that it has 2 to 4 centimeters of depth to leave enough space for the roots of the leaf to grow.
In addition to soil, the substrate should include something more loose or porous like gravel, volcanic rock, or tree bark. This will prevent the leaf from retaining too much water and help its roots grow more easily.
In general, the average substrate should have the following proportions:
- 50% common soil for succulents with worm humus
- 30% gravel, volcanic rock, tree bark or a mixture of all
- 15% peat or perlite
- 5% river sand
- Optional: A little ground eggshell and aquarium activated carbon to prevent the formation of mold
Of course, the proportions of each material can vary depending on the temperature and humidity of the place where you live.
Also, if you are unable to get all the materials, no problem. The important thing is always to maintain a higher percentage of inorganic materials to make the substrate ventilated, light, with rapid drainage and not too high in nutrients.
- Organic: peat, coconut fiber, worm humus, compost, etc.
- Inorganic: gravel, volcanic rock, perlite, vermiculite, sand, etc.
Additionally, having the container with holes in its base will help a lot to further improve drainage.
Step 4: Place the leaf in the container
Place the leaf on the substrate, making sure to put it face down to allow the roots to grow, penetrate under the substrate, and avoid direct sunlight.
Step 5: Put the container in a place with indirect light
Although most succulents in their normal state (whole plant) do not have problems with direct sunlight, during leaf reproduction it is not recommended to expose them, especially in the early stages of growth.
Very intense direct light could damage the roots, prevent them from continuing to grow and ruin the propagation process.
Step 6: Cover the roots and water the substrate
As they begin to grow, the roots must be covered with substrate and the plant given normal care: good lighting and watering every time the substrate is dry.
Some people recommend watering with a spray bottle during the first few weeks to avoid possible waterlogging. I've tried it with a spray bottle and a squeeze bottle, and both options have worked perfectly for me.
Step 7: If you propagated multiple leaves, transplant to individual pots
Over time, the plant will grow larger and have stems and the mother leaf will eventually die and fall off.
Once detached, if you propagated multiple leaves, it will be time to transplant each leaf to a small individual pot so they can continue growing with more space.
You can also transplant multiple leaves into a single pot as long as they have enough space to grow. Over time, they will grow to a size that requires you to transplant them to individual pots or move them all to a larger pot.
If you propagated it alone, simply remove the mother leaf to avoid pests and continue giving it normal care. You can change it to a pot when the substrate depth in the container is no longer sufficient for its growth.
Common problems in succulent leaf propagation
Like any other method, leaf propagation is not foolproof and there are some problems that you will need to solve to successfully reproduce your succulents.
Below is a list of the most frequent problems I have faced and the tips that have helped me avoid them.
The most common problems in reproducing succulents by leaf are the following:
- No roots are produced: Despite regularly watering and providing the necessary light conditions, there will be some leaves that do not produce roots even after several weeks.
- Rotting: Some leaves can rot due to excessive moisture or a greater amount of watering than necessary.
- Drying out: On the other hand, some leaves can dry out due to prolonged periods of drought or exposure to intense direct sunlight.
These are the most effective solutions to prevent the previously mentioned problems:
- Understanding each species' limitations: It's important to understand that not all succulent species can be propagated by leaves. For those that can, some will be much harder to propagate than others. That's why it's recommended to use several leaves of the species you want to reproduce, so at least one of them will succeed in propagating.
- Adapting the substrate to each species: Some species prefer a drier substrate, with a higher proportion of inorganic materials, to propagate by leaves. Other species reproduce better in a moister substrate, that only has soil or a higher proportion of organic materials.
- Using rooting hormone: For those leaves that have been without roots for weeks, rooting hormone can be applied to the tip. To do this, simply moisten the tip of the leaf with water, coat it in rooting powder, and place it back in the substrate. This will increase the chances of the leaf being propagated.
As you can see, with patience and proper care, leaf propagation is a good option for multiplying your succulents and growing your collection without spending a penny.
Remember to use rooting hormone when necessary and always try to reproduce more than one leaf per species to increase your chances of success.
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All the best reproducing and taking care of your plants!
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