How to Propagate Stem Cuttings

Updated: September 16, 2022

How to Propagate Stem Cuttings

Whether you are new to the world of plants or you have been collecting plants for years, there are a few things that everyone has to learn at one point or another. How to propagate succulent and cactus stem cuttings is one of those things. Propagating allows you to take a plant that is thriving and start a new plant from one of the leaves or stem cuttings. This is a fun and easy way to grow your collection or give some plants to a friend!

At Planet Desert, we sell cuttings for different succulents and cacti plants that allows you to grow your own! Whether you buy our cuttings or use cuttings for your current plants, we thought it would be helpful to give you a list of steps that you can follow to make propagating your plant simpler. Read on to learn more!

Step 1: Cut Leaves

We are going to start by telling you how to cut your succulents or cacti to propagate them in case you wanted to propagate your own plants. The type of succulent or cactus that you are cutting will depend on what kind of cuttings you take. Some plants can propagate with a leaf while others need actual cuttings to grow more.

If you are going to propagate using a leaf, it is important that you get the entire leaf, all the way up to the stem. If your leave is cut or breaks off before the stem, it will likely die. You can simply twist the leaf to pull it off of the stem, just make sure you get the entire leaf.

If you are taking a full cutting to propagate your succulent, you will want to use sharp scissors or pruning shears. Cut the stem, just above a leaf. You can take your cutting from the top of the succulent or from an offshoot.

For cacti cuttings, what you cut will depend on the type of cactus you have. If your cactus is growing pads, choose a mature one (not a smaller one towards the top) and cut that. If you have a columnar cactus, you will want to cut the stuff a few inches from the top. For columnar cacti, try to choose a thinner stem, this will allow it to root faster than thicker ones. Your cut should be as straight as possible. 

Step 2: Let Them Dry

After you have your succulent or cactus cuttings, you need to let them dry. Place them somewhere safe, away from the sun and soil. You will want the cutting to form a callous. If you try to plant your cutting before it has a chance to scab, it will absorb too much water and drown. This is why it is important to give it a few days to dry and scab.

Step 3: Water Them to Root

Once your succulent and cactus cuttings have scabbed over on the cut end, you can start watering them. While you don’t have to water mature succulents and cacti often, leaves and cuttings you are trying to propagate need more watering. They need to be watered regularly without overwatering them.

There are a few ways that you can do this.

You can prepare a well-draining pot with some soil and plant your succulent or cactus cuttings, burying the end that you cut, which is the rooting end, in the soil. If you have a succulent cutting that you are planting, make sure you remove any leaves that are lower on the stem. You don’t want to bury any leaves. After planting your cuttings, you can keep the soil moist without overwatering.

Another way that you can start getting your cuttings to root is to lay them flat on the soil, with the cut end not touching the soil. Then simply water the soil to keep it moist and allow your succulent or cactus cuttings to start rooting this way. This is also a great option if your cuttings won’t stand up.

When you have succulent cuttings, rather than just leaves, you will want to try to plant it in the soil. It does not need to grow another plant, it just needs to be planted and watered, and it will start growing roots.

The speed at which your roots grow will depend on a variety of factors but if you keep the soil moist and properly care for your cuttings, they should start rooting in two to three weeks. To see if your cuttings have rooted, you can give them a gentle pull after two-to-four weeks. If they are sticking into the soil, they are rooted!

Step 4: Repot

Once your cuttings have grown roots, they are ready to be planted in their permanent pot. Once your rooted succulents and cacti are repotted, you can water them more deeply but less frequently, just like you water your other mature plants. We suggest slowly moving your succulents and cacti to their preferred lighting conditions, giving them time to adapt. In other words, don’t move them from a shady area directly into the sunlight.

Some Things To Remember

While these directions make it seem like a simple process, it is important to remember that some of your cuttings might not make it. Some will die, some will grow slower than others, and some may grow roots but no leaves. It takes patience to propagate succulents and cacti.

If you want to try propagating some succulents and cacti, we can help you! Our team at Planet Desert can send you cuttings that are done right, making you more likely to be successful as you try to propagate them!

Start shopping through our collection of cuttings and other plants to find the perfect one for you. Contact Planet Desert with any questions you may have.


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