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Useful Tips for Growing Succulents

Succulents are among the easiest plants to propagate, largely because the plants have a strong sense of self-preservation.

The drought tolerant plants root with little encouragement from you, and new plants can be grown from existing ones. You even can ignore the cuttings for weeks and the plants will be fine.

Gardening trends come and go, but the popularity of succulents has been going strong for quite some time. They require little supplemental water and they endure with benign neglect. They can be grown indoors if you have sufficient light, and can be used as temporary decor, such as for place settings, and then added to your collection.

The plants also can be quite beautiful, and their unique sizes, colors and forms make them a favorite.

Here are some useful tips on propagating and growing succulents.


  • Most succulents can be propagated through cuttings or leaves. The exception is aeoniums, which can be started by cuttings or seeds, but not from leaves.
  • For cuttings, simply snip off a piece of the plant and set it aside in a shady place. Let it rest for a couple of days to harden off, allowing the freshly cut end to callous over. Then pop it in a pot or the ground and water. Cuttings can be left for a couple of weeks before planting. Without hardening off, bacteria can enter through the fresh cut.
  • To grow from leaves, remove the entire leaf and set aside in a shady spot. In about three weeks, roots will form on the leaf and a new plant will develop at the base.
  • Succulents can be rooted in water, but most will rot rather than develop roots. As they are so easy to root out of water, there’s not anything to be gained. The exception is the jade plant, which has a better track record of rooting in water. Still, jade is easy to root through hardening off cuttings and by leaf propagation.


  • Knowing how much to water your succulents is mostly trial and error. Most die from getting too much water, but if you notice the bottom leaves on the plant starting to shrivel, that’s a sign the plant isn’t getting enough water. Allow soil to dry between waterings.
  • Some succulents need full sun to develop color, but most appreciate some afternoon shade. If there are wide spaces between leaves, the plant isn’t getting enough light. Burns on the leaves may indicate it is getting too much sun.
  • Succulents grow well in pots, but they’ll do even better in the ground if you have the right soil. They need soil that drains well, and not in clayey soils. You can amend your soil to make it more friable by adding sand and compost.
  • Create your own soil for pots by combining perlite and sand with standard potting soil.
  • All plants need fertilizer, especially those in pots, but to be honest, they will survive without it too. They may not be as robust, but they will survive.
  • If you’re worried about certain plants being lost in the monsoon rains, we would suggests taking cuttings from the plant in the monsoon season and growing them indoor until the rains are over. You may lose your outdoor plant, but you’ll have something to replace it.


  • There is almost an infinite variety of succulents and some people like to create collections of different and fascinating succulents. Others don’t really care what plant they have if they like it.
  • If you’re confused by cactuses that look similar to succulents, check the stems. Succulent stems are soft. The cactus may have succulent leaves, but the stem will be more woody.
  • Succulents are so easy to propagate, you’re likely to soon have too many. Fortunately, there’s not really such a thing as having too many plants.
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