How to Grow Succulents from Cuttings (and Save Money)

September 07, 2017
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how to grow succulents from cuttings
Photo: Gardens by Gabriel Inc, original photo on Houzz.

Succulents are a fixture in gardens throughout the country, where their unique shapes and drought-tolerant qualities make them popular residents. Despite their popularity, people can be put off by their sometimes high price. The good news is that you don’t have to empty your wallet to enjoy the beauty of succulents in your garden. All you need to do is wait until frost-free temperatures arrive so you can get planting with these money-saving tips.

The variety of succulents available — including cactuses, which are a type of succulent — is almost limitless. Succulents come in all shapes and sizes, meaning that there is one (or more) that’s right for your garden. For more information on which ones might be best for your region, contact a Master Gardener or your local cooperative extension office.

1. At the nursery, look for pots that have more than one plant in them. 
Succulents often produce offsets, which are identical plants. You can sometimes find more than one plant in a single pot, which means that you’ll get double or triple the amount of plants for the price of one. Some examples of succulents that do this are agave, aloe and echeveria. Use a knife or shovel to remove the offsets, or twist off the offsets from the mother plant.

2. Divide clumping types of succulents and replant in the garden. 
Certain kinds of succulents have a clumping growth habit and can be divided, similar to many popular perennials. Aloe and hesperaloe species are examples of succulents that form new clusters as they mature, which can be planted elsewhere in the garden.

3. Take a cutting to create a new cactus. 
You can start an entirely new cactus from many types of cactuses by taking a cutting — generally a stem or pad — and planting it. The process is fairly straightforward, but there are are a few steps to follow to do it right. You will need gloves and a pruning saw, in addition to several layers of newspaper, a carpet remnant or rubber straps. This is a two-person job.

  • Select a stem from a columnar cactus, or a two- to three-pad section of a prickly pear cactus, and hold it in place with the newspaper, carpet remnant or rubber straps.
  • While one person is holding the section of cactus to be cut, the other can cut the section with the pruning saw.
  • Place the newly cut section of the cactus in a dry, shady spot and let it rest for two weeks before planting. It’s important not to plant it right away, as the cut section needs to dry out, or rot may set in.
  • After two weeks has passed, plant the cactus cutting in your predetermined spot, utilizing the same protective methods as when you cut it.
  • Wait a few weeks before watering.
  • Before you know it, you’ll have a new cactus thriving in your garden that you didn’t have to spend a dime on.

4. Buy a bowl filled with multiple succulent varieties. 
Then grow new ones from leaf cuttings. A single bowl can produce a large quantity of new plants that start from a single leaf. Echeveria, jade plant (Crassula ovata) and kalanchoe are types of succulents that can be propagated this way.

  • Snip off a few leaves and lay them on a paper towel in a dry, shady spot for four to five days to allow the ends to dry out. You can also use a short section of stem.
  • Fill a container with a potting mix formulated for succulents and bury the bottom half of the leaf in the soil.
  • Water regularly to help promote rooting, but don’t overwater. A good guideline is to keep the soil at the same level of moistness as a wrung-out sponge.
  • After six weeks, the leaves should have grown roots.

​​​​​​​5. Ask friends or neighbors for offsets and cuttings. 
If you have admired a cactus or succulent in your neighbor’s garden, this is a great way to add one to your outdoor space. Offsets from an agave, cuttings from cactuses or a 3- to 5-inch stem from popular succulent plants like milk bush (Euphorbia tirucalli), slipper plant (Pedilanthus macrocarpus) and elephant bush (Portulacaria afra) are all it takes to grow a completely separate plant. Often, people are happy to give away pieces of their plants, which would end up in the trash pile after pruning.

​​​​​​​6. Keep an eye out for discounted cuttings at plant sales or your favorite nursery. 
Small sections of cactuses and succulents may not be pretty enough to be sold at full price, and are often relegated to the back of the nursery. While these plants may be less desirable to the general public, they are diamonds in the rough. With a little TLC they will grow into lovely plants. Simply give them well-drained soil and deep, infrequent watering, and you’ll be surprised at how well they respond. Soon you’ll never know that they were discounted plants, as they add welcome beauty to your garden.

"How to Save Money on Succulents" by Noelle Johnson originally appeared on, a one-stop-shop for kitchen utensils and knives to remove offsets and more succulent design inspiration. Photo credit: Gardens by Gabriel Inc, original photo on Houzz.

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