Growing Succulent Leaf Babies
Have you ever grown a new succulent from a single succulent leaf? They’re fun to grow, and the tiny babies look like miniatures of their mother plant. I’ll teach you some tricks to get nearly every leaf to grow.
The end of the leaf that attaches to the stem is slightly curved to match the stem; this end of the leaf is where a leaf baby will grow. Leaves nearest the roots are usually the easiest to remove.
Some succulents grow from cuttings but not from leaves. Haworthias, agave, most aeoniums, and sempervivums grow from cuttings, not leaves.
Occasionally a leaf will tear when you pull it from the stem. Most perfect leaves will grow leaf babies. But often, I’m surprised to see even torn leaves grow leaf babies, so I save all the leaves.
Some damaged leaves grow babies
Professional succulent growers have different ways of starting leaf babies. Some set the leaves aside for several days to allow the leaf to heal over. Set your leaves aside in a shady place. I put mine on a garden flat, a plastic tray with a small lattice pattern of holes in the bottom. After the leaves have healed over, they tuck the ends of the leaves in damp succulent soil.
Other growers leave their succulent leaves on a garden flat and wait four to six weeks, until the leaf has roots and a tiny baby succulent has appeared, before setting the leaf on damp soil. The idea is to keep the leaf dry. Do not mist them or water them. After several weeks, small pink roots will start growing on the end of the leaf, where it was attached to the stem. During cool weather, it can take longer. A new baby succulent gets all the water and nutrients it needs to root from the mother leaf.
Leaf babies need to be grown close together or in a small space to grow well. Place the leaves in plug trays. Plug trays have many sections or cells about an inch across that hold soil. If the soil area is bigger, your leaf baby is less likely to survive.
If you’re using plug trays, fill the plug tray sections with succulent soil (a mix of peat moss and perlite works well in my area). Dampen the soil, create a tiny dip, and set the leaf baby on the soil. If you don’t have plug trays, leaf babies can share soil. Place leaf babies in small indents on damp soil about an inch apart.
Before the soil is dry, dampen it again, top to bottom. It’s okay to get the mama leaf wet. Don’t make the soil muddy. With the right amount of water, the soil will hold its shape when it’s clenched in the palm of your hand, without water dripping between your fingers.
When the leaf babies are an inch across or have outgrown the plug tray, they can be moved to a larger pot. For best results, keep them in pots with no more than one to two inches of extra soil around them.
Experiment, try both ways of growing leaf babies to see which works best for you!