Succulent Leaf Cuttings

by Philippe Faucon 4/3/2001

Leaf cuttings are easier than they look, and it is very satisfying to see the young plants growing from the old leaf.

There are a number of plants that can be propagated easily this way:  Gasterias, Haworthias, Sansevierias and plants of the sedum family (crassulaceae) Crassulas, Kalanchoe, Sedums, Graptopetalums...  I haven't had any luck with aloes, or mesembs (ice plants).

The easy way is just to get a leaf.  Let the cut dry out in the shade for a day to a week, and stick it in moist sand.  It needs to be barely inserted in the sand, and the sand needs to be barely moist.  You can expect to see a change in the leaf after 3-4 weeks and the young plants will take a season to develop into new plants.

The temperature is an important factor.  Plants of the crassulaceae family will root better in the fall, and in late winter/early spring.  They will generally not root in the summer, but rather slowly dry out, or rot.  The rule of thumb is that the leaf cuttings has chances to grow only if the parent plant is actively growing.

This first example is an accidental leaf cutting. I was cleaning a Panda Plant (Kalanchoe tomentosa), and I found this leaf that had rooted.  For some reason, all this hair had let me to believe that root cuttings might not be possible. 

Further trial proved me further that Panda Plant are very easy to propagate this way

The Panda Plant

Lavender-Scallops (Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi)  is easy to propagate using stem cuttings.  I tried to insert slightly the leaf into moist sand, somewhat expecting to have a baby plant growing next to the stem like for the Panda Plant.  Instead the young plants form at the edge of the leaf, in a typical air-plant (Bryophyllum) fashion.  Of course, I then realized that that the Lavender-Scallops used to be in the genus Bryophyllum (Maternity Plants).

The leaf cuttings on the left side have been started about 3 weeks ago.  As you can see they are barely inserted in the growing medium.  Optimally, the base of the plantlets barely touches the ground, so that its root system can grow properly.

This is a cutting of the same parent plant, still growing in a 2-inch pot.  It is now 6 months old.  The original leaf has completely dried out, and is barely visible.

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Text and Pictures 2001 Philippe Faucon, All Rights Reserved.