How to Propagate Succulents
How can we multiply plant lives in a dry climate?
This Lesson Plan is part of the Home and Gardening modules of SustainEd Farms' virtual programming.
In arid environments, life revolves around the ability to store water: without the continuous and reliable supply of it, natural organisms that are able to exist in dry places had formerly evolved (out-competed through random genetic mutations) mechanisms for holding on to this limited resource. Many plant varieties have developed this ability; notably, the category of plants known as succulents in botany and horticulture retain water quite well in various dry environments. Succulents are especially wonderful for the home grower because they require very little care, and their unique symmetries, textures, and shapes make them visually captivating. This lesson explores easy methods to propagate succulents from those already existing in your home so that you can bring more plant beauty into your life.
Students will be able to...
Make cuttings of various types of succulent plants
Identify when a cutting has callused
Replant succulent cuttings
succulent (plant) /ˈsəkyələnt/ noun. - a category plants that has fleshy tissue specialized for water storage
arid /ˈerəd/ adjective. - a region or particular environment that receives significantly less water than other places
callus (of a plant) /ˈkaləs/ noun. - a hardened portion of a plant leaf or stem developed to prevent water loss and exposure to disease (contains undifferentiated cell structures to regrow roots)
1. Gather your materials. You will need the following supplies:
succulent plant · scissors · tea towel or paper towel · soil + pot or seed tray · water
2. Watch the following Youtube video to see a demonstration of how to propagate a succulent plant. Then, follow along with the remainder of the lesson by reading the steps below.
🌵Such variety!... Do you recognize any of these plants? What similarities do you notice about each type’s leaves? Why do you think the leaves are so bulbous?
Silver Dollar Succulent
String of Pearls
Bear Paw Succulent
3. Identify a possible spot to make a cutting on your succulent plant. Many succulents can be propagated by using just one leaf (like bear paw) while others may require that you take part of the stem for your cutting. It is best to do some research on your particular succulent species to see whether or not it can be propagated from a single leaf (though, feel free to just experiment as well!). When making a stem cutting, a general rule of thumb is to cut at least 4 inches of stem (from an off-shoot -- not from the main stem), while including at least 3 stem nodes (the structures from which more leaves/stems grow). After identifying your ideal stem/leaf, perform the cutting with your scissors with a decisive cut, or simply pluck the leaf off of your succulent.
4. After taking your cutting, allow the stem/leaf to form a callus by placing each cutting on a paper towel or tea towel, and setting it in indirect sunlight. A full callus will be formed in 1-3 days, at which point you’ll notice that any sticky residue that remained after your initial cutting has hardened over.
5. After a callus has formed on your cutting, remove any leaves from the bottom 2-3 nodes if you took a stem cutting. If you have a leaf cutting, leave it as it is.
6. Plant your cutting by gently submerging the callused end into the surface of the soil in a pot or seed tray. With a stem cutting, submerge the 2 or 3 nodes that you removed leaves from. You can poke a hole in the soil with a pencil or chopstick for ease, or simply press the callused end in with a finger.
💧Alternatively… place the callused end of your cutting into a jar of water, set in indirect sunlight, and watch the roots develop there!
7. Place your new plant in an area where it will receive indirect sunlight for at least 6 hours every day. Water your plant once a day until the surface of the soil is just slightly damp (remember, these plants do not need much water to survive!).
8. In about 3 weeks, roots will begin to develop on your new succulent plant. At this point, you may think about transplanting your succulent into a larger container or into your garden.
Download the PDF version of this lesson plan: