How to Propagate Succulents in Water
Getting started with water propagation for succulents
Who doesn’t love the beauty of succulents?? Taking a plant or two and multiplying them into SO many more is easy with water propagation! In this post, I’ll show you step-by-step how to propagate succulents in water.
Succulents make interesting potted houseplants because there are so many unique varieties! (Psst….another great thing about succulents is their easy-care: they don’t need watered often! If they are in a humid environment, they can go even longer than if the air is dry. If you don’t think you’re a great gardener, give these a try!)
Growing succulents is simple! Once you’ve propagated them so they develop a little root-system, you can put them in cactus soil and create a beautiful little succulent garden! I like to set mine near a windowsill because cactus and succulents thrive in bright light.
Cactus soil is the preferred type for succulents and cacti – it’s a blend of inorganic materials such as sand, gravel, pumice, and/or perlite – all of which provide really good drainage.
Potting soil is not a good soil choice for succulents because it is high in organic matter, such as peat moss and compost, which retains moisture and may cause your new plants to rot pretty quickly!
How to propagate succulents in water
Here’s what you’ll need:
- a bowl
- plastic wrap
- a toothpick
- fresh, mature succulent leaves (I always find the best prices on succulents at local nurseries, but if you can’t get to one, Lowe’s has lots of succulent varieties available online.) You can also use cuttings by cutting smaller plants off a big one at the base of the stems, and putting the stems in the holes in the plastic wrap above water.
Fill your bowl 1/3 full or 1/2 full with clean water. (Your succulents will NOT be touching the water – they will be taking in the moisture from the air inside the bowl.)
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (if it’s not strong, go ahead and do 2 layers!).
I stretched mine nice and tight and made sure it was sealed around the edges of the bowl.
Next, you’ll take a toothpick and make holes in the plastic wrap – holes for sticking the leaves in AND extra holes for good ventilation.
I took nice strong, mature, healthy-looking leaves off a couple succulents that I had purchased just to use for propagating.
You should be choosing leaves from near the base of the plant, not the tops.
Then I stuck the tips of the leaves into the holes in the plastic wrap on top of my bowl.
After I filled all the holes, I made sure I had plenty of extra holes in the plastic wrap to ventilate the leaves. I’ve essentially created a little greenhouse.
Want to remember how to propagate succulents later on?
⬇️ :: PIN THIS FOR LATER :: ⬇️
I placed my bowl indoors in indirect sunlight. My desk is right next to a large window that has morning light. So while my succulents are growing on my desk, I’m keeping the blinds closed in the morning when the sun is directly shining in. About mid-morning, when the sun passes over a bit, I open my blinds to give them bright, indirect light for the rest of the day.
By the way, save your old candle jars to use for planters! I show you how easy it is in THIS POST.
<< Here’s what a few of my succulent leaves looked like after just 1 WEEK >>
Most of this specific variety had short roots popping out after just one week! None of the other varieties did, though, so it just depends on which type of succulent leaves you are propagating for how quickly the roots will pop out.
<< Succulent leaves after 2 WEEKS >>
Roots were much stronger and longer at 2 weeks, and little babies started to show!
I was so excited that this one had “twins”! 😆
This variety was a little slower to grow roots, but after 2 weeks they finally made an appearance!
<< Succulent leaves after 4 WEEKS >>
Took a look into my bowl and saw lots and lots of roots underneath that plastic wrap!
So here are a few different varieties I was propagating, and you can see that they were all at different growth stages at week 4 – some had long, healthy roots AND babies, some short roots and babies, some just roots. All were in great condition and just doing their thing at their pace. 🙂
<< Succulent leaves after 6 WEEKS >>
Definitely had lots of nice roots and babies growing from the moisture in the bowl by week 6!
This rose-type succulent with fast-growing roots and baby I decided to plant in soil at week 6 because the roots started to look like they needed something more than water (see the brown spots?) to accommodate the fast growth.
I have a long cement planter for my succulent babies (mine is from a local nursery, but this one is similar), so I just carefully set it in there and lightly covered its roots with soil. It took root in the soil in just a few days and started thriving.
Be cautious if you don’t have pots with drainage – too much water will cause the roots to rot. I find that succulent plants are more easy-to-grow if you let them dry out before watering. Just watch for them to stick out little random roots into the air as they search for any moisture around, then give them a drink.
<< Succulent leaves after 9 WEEKS >>
Short roots still did fine growing healthy succulent babies on this variety.
These twins did really great and got planted in soil at 9 weeks.
(Scroll down to see my update on how big these twins are!)
By 9 weeks, anything with long, healthy roots can get planted into soil, whether or not it has a baby yet. Just set the succulent leaf on the soil and then lightly cover the roots with soil.
How pretty is this little succulent rose baby?! ❤️
(Scroll down to see my update on how big this little one is!)
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UPDATE: Months later, my babies are thriving! Growth has been slow(er) through the winter, but no doubt when it’s warm enough (soon!) and I put them outside, they will shoot up much more quickly!
In summary, how to propagate succulents in water:
- Fill a bowl 1/3-1/2 full of clean water
- Cover the bowl with a layer or two of plastic wrap
- Take a toothpick and make holes in the plastic wrap – some holes for sticking the succulent leaves into and some extras for ventilation
- Use strong, mature, healthy succulent leaves from near the base of a healthy plant
- Stick the tips of the leaves into the holes in the plastic wrap
- Place the bowl indoors in indirect sunlight
- Place the rooted leaves onto soil between 6-9 weeks and they will take root and grow
- Be creative with potting these plants – you can use any type of containers if you put holes in the bottom of them for drainage.
- Succulents don’t need anything extra like fertilizer or vermiculite – if they look like they need plant-food, just repot them with fresh soil. It’s good to repot them now and then just to prevent pests in the soil from getting to your plant as well.
- Enjoy the beauty of this houseplant! They’re extra pretty when they are flowering!
- Potted plants make great gifts, so propagating succulents is a great on-going project to always have gifts on hand!
Absolutely! Following the above steps, you will find it very easy to propagate succulents in water!
Both methods work, but the odds of root rot are much higher when your succulent leaves are sitting on wet soil. There could be pathogens in the soil that damage your plants and cause root rot, so propagating in water is a safer method.
Most of my succulent leaves had roots pop out in just one week! One variety took two weeks. But with this covered bowl system, the humidity will be heavy on the succulents and they will get roots pretty quickly. Keep the roots growing for a couple more weeks before transplanting to soil.
Honestly, this water propagation method is the quickest way to get your succulent leaves to make roots because they are in such a humid environment!
The fun thing about growing indoor plants is that their growing season is year-round. My outside succulents go dormant in the winter, but my inside ones just slow down a little.
Did you know?
Here’s a crazy hack for speeding up root growth with water propagation – add a Pothos cutting to the water because it has a natural rooting hormone that will help the other plants! “Love That Leaf” has all the details and why it works HERE.
Try these FELT SUCCULENTS too!
Check out our Gift Guide for Succulent Lover’s HERE!
This post was originally published on January 17, 2021