Growing roots on a succulent cutting is one of the most important and exciting parts of succulent parenthood! You may have a succulent that’s grown too big and unwieldy, or one that’s taken a tragic tumble and snapped from its roots. OR you may have accidentally left your succulent where there wasn’t enough sunlight, and it s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d too tall to support itself. Whatever the reason, propagating in water is a fun alternative to soil propagation for those who want to see big results in minimal time.
Let’s dive right in!
1. Prepare your cutting.
If your succulent has an offshoot (a new stem with a rosette) you can snip it right off the mother plant, remove the leaves below the rosette, and use that as your cutting. If none of your succulents have offshoots, you’ll snip the mother plant’s stem an inch or two below the rosette, and remove the remaining leaves. Be sure to leave the rest of leaves on the mother plant to encourage new rosette growth. Let your cuttings callus over for a few days.
2. Pick a jar.
We recommend using a glass jar, like a mason jar or old jam jar. Whatever you choose, just make sure that the jar is clear so that sunlight can pass through.
3. Set it up.
Fill the jar up with water and situate the cutting so the stem is a few millimeters above the water. This will encourage root growth downward, towards the water. If your succulent cutting is too small to balance on the rim of the jar, you can cover the jar with plastic wrap, poke a hole in it, and stick the stem through the hole. Place the jar in a sunny window.
4. Grow time.
The water in your jar can evaporate. Check in on it periodically and top it off if you see that the stem is more than a few millimeters above the water. It can take anywhere from 2-6 weeks for roots to sprout, depending on your climate and environment. Eventually the roots will reach into the water, that is totally okay. Water alone will not cause root rot. Check out this side-by-side of what 3 weeks of root growth looked like for us:
Potting Your New Plant
It’s up to you to decide when you want to transplant your succulent from water to soil. We recommend waiting until you have at least an inch-long root system. Before you pot your succulent, remove it from the water and allow the roots to dry out on a paper towel for a day or two. Your roots will be pretty fragile at this point, so handle with care.
Once dry, gently nestle the roots and bottom half inch or so of the stem into cactus soil. Make sure your soil doesn’t have added fertilizer, they can be too harsh for the new roots. Keep your succulent in a bright location where it can get a day’s worth of bright, indirect light. A couple hours of direct light is ok, but the succulent is still somewhat fragile, so avoid prolonged direct sunlight. From here, simply maintain a regular watering schedule for your new succulent. A good soak about once every two weeks should do it.
More of a visual learner? Check out the how-to video below!
Why choose water propagation?
1. Low Maintenance
Once you set your succulent over the water and into a sunny spot, you can pretty much ignore it for a few weeks while the succulent does it’s thing. At most, you’ll need to check in every once in a while to make sure the water hasn’t evaporated too much.
2. Witnessing the Results
When you plant a cutting directly into the soil, you don’t get to watch the roots grow. And pulling the plant out of the soil to see if it has any roots every week or two can be disruptive for the plant going through that process. With water propagation you can keep an eye on it every step of the way, from the first sprout to the giant root ball at the end.
3. It’s Pretty
If you’re looking for a cool new way to display your succulents (while making more succulents at the same time) water propagation is your jam. Go to your local thrift store and pick up a bunch of glass jars in all different shapes and sizes. Then take cuttings of some of your favorite or most colorful succulents and put them all together on a sunny windowsill! Once their roots get going you’ll be in plant parent heaven!
Remember, propagation isn’t always a guarantee that you’ll get a healthy new plant. It’s all about trial and error. If you have any questions, we are always here to help, so don’t hesitate to reach out!