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This blog post is contributed by Sarah Gerrard Jones, an expert on houseplants.
We all love something for free, right? Follow the easy steps below and you can have an endless supply of free plants! If you haven’t already tried propagating a succulent leaf, here are some simple tips to help you.
Succulents are some of the easiest plants to propagate. It’s amazing to see a tiny plant growing from a single detached leaf. Echeveria, Sedum, and Graptopetalum drop their leaves easily which makes them prime candidates for propagation. Other varieties, which don’t drop their leaves, are generally better suited to stem-cutting propagation or removal of offsets.
Using your fingers, take hold of a single healthy leaf and gently move it from side to side or give a little twist – it should come away easily from the stem. Make sure the whole leaf has come away with a clean break right where it was attached to the stem. If any part of the leaf is still attached to the stem, it will not propagate. Take 4 or 5 leaves because although the success rate of leaf propagation is high, one or two may fail.
Succulents like a free draining soil which doesn’t hold too much moisture. I like to make up my own, using sand, perlite, and potting compost, but for ease of use, you can buy ready- made cacti and succulent soil from garden centres, plant shops, or DIY stores. Take a plant pot that has drainage holes at the bottom and fill it up with the soil. Then lay your succulent leaves on top.
DO NOT WATER! It’s very important to keep the soil totally dry to avoid the leaf rotting.
Place your potted leaves in a medium-bright spot, but never in direct sunlight. Over the next few days, each leaf will form a callus at the end – this prevents loss of water and protects the leaf from rotting. After a few weeks, you should start to see roots developing. It’s only at this point that you should introduce water. Using a spray bottle, lightly squirt each leaf a couple of times. Too much water risks rotting the leaf before the baby plant has formed. Repeat this process of spraying every 2–3 days.
After 3–4 weeks, you should expect to see tiny new leaves forming at the end of each detached leaf. These are your new plantlets! Once they are well established, move each of the old succulent leaves with its new plantlet to its own new pot. The original leaf should wither away over time, which you can then remove. Water as you would your other succulents – about once a week in the growing season, reduced to once a month in winter.
Now that you know how easy it is, why not start propagating today and give your homegrown succulents as Christmas presents or swap them with friends? Alternatively, just keep them and enjoy!