How To Water Propagate Succulents?

How To Water Propagate Succulents?

Water propagating a succulent is when you remove a cutting or a leaf from a plant and place it in water until roots form. This is an easy way to grow more of the same succulent quickly and for free. If you want to learn more about how to propagate your succulents in water, keep on reading.

What is water propagation?

Water propagation is when you use water as a medium to grow roots on your succulent cuttings. You may think that letting your succulents sit in water will result in root rot, just like when you overwater your plants, but surprisingly, this is not the case.

Some people find water propagation much easier than the soil and dry methods. The results appear faster and are more successful. But ultimately, whatever method you are comfortable with and has given you fruitful results is what you should stick with.

Why do succulent cuttings not rot when placed in water?

There is no clear cut answer as to why succulent cuttings do not get root rot while an overwatered plant in soil does. But the theory most people believe is that root rot is not caused by the water in the soil, but instead by pathogens in the soil itself. The water simply acts as a vessel to make the pathogens enter the plant more quickly than if there had been no water at all.

When new cuttings are placed in water, they are not exposed to any pathogens because of the absence of soil as a medium.

How to water propagate succulents using stem cuttings

Using stem cuttings to propagate succulents is an easy way to add to your collection and make sure any succulents used for decoration are not wasted. Take note that these methods may not always work, but if you follow the process correctly, the chances of it working will increase greatly.

  • First, you have to choose a succulent you wish to propagate. It is ideal to do propagation during the winter, so take the cuttings right after the plant’s bloom period is over. If you do not want to wait, you can just choose a plant that has not bloomed yet.
  • Using clean, sharp scissors, cut off a two to four-inch cutting that has at least two leaves. Remove any bottom leaves on the cutting to expose the stem.
  • Leave the cuttings in an empty tray in a well-lit area for three days until a callus forms. This is very important; without a callus, the cutting might end up absorbing too much water and rotting.
  • Next, choose a container, like a clear glass jar, for propagating your cuttings. This way you will be able to see the root progress. This also lets light pass through the jar and aids in quicker progress.
  • If you see the callus, fill the container with water and put the cutting in. Try not to submerge any leaves– keep them dry. One way to do this is to place plastic wrap on top and poke a hole to insert the stem in.
  • Place the container in a sunny window and wait for it to grow roots. The growth period is usually two to six weeks, depending on the climate and environment. Check on the container constantly to make sure it does not run out of water.

How to water propagate succulents using leaves

Propagating with leaves takes a much longer time than using cuttings, but this method does have a better chance at succeeding. You can also witness how the small leaves will start to grow and form roots at the bottom of the leaf.

  • First, pick a leaf that you wish to use to propagate. Grab a healthy, plump leaf between your thumb and forefinger and start moving it from side to side. If the leaf is ready to propagate, it is usually easily detached from the stem. Be careful when detaching the leaf because you might leave a portion of it on the stem. This will result in the leaf being unable to form any roots and leaves. The best leaves to choose are at the bottom since they are the most mature and have the best chance at survival. The younger leaves at the top of the plant will not have enough nutrition to grow roots.
  • After picking the leaves, lay them out on an empty tray to callus. This takes somewhere between five to seven days. You should see tiny baby roots after drying the leaves. Make sure you wait for the leaf to callus over because it gives the leaf a better chance at propagating. If the leaf does not wither while waiting to callus over, the leaf is healthy and a good choice for propagation.
  • Just like propagating with cuttings, choose a clear container and place plastic wrap on the top. Insert the leaves through holes to make sure the leaves do not become submerged in the water. Make sure the leaves do not touch the water and the bottoms with the baby roots do.
  • Place the container in a window with bright sunlight. The growth period is somewhere between two and six weeks. Check on the leaves often to make sure they are not drying out.

How do I pot my propagated plant?

Whether you are potting a cutting or a leaf, make sure you wait until the roots are at least one inch long or the mother leaf has dried out. Let it air dry on a paper towel for a day or two. The roots will be quite fragile, so be careful while handling them.

When the roots have dried, burrow the succulent into unfertilized succulent soil mix and place it in an area that has bright, indirect light.


Water propagation can be an easy way to add more of the same succulents to your collection for free. It can take some time to get new succulents, but it is ultimately worth it. You can use either cuttings or leaves to water propagate, and you will get the same results in roughly the same amount of time.

Place the cutting or leaf in water for several weeks until the roots become long enough to plant into their own separate pots. Before long you will have dozens of new baby succulents to add to your garden.

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