Succulent Propagation technique

May 3, 2011

I have a lot of succulents and I’m always happy to share, but I haven’t always been as successful as I would like when it comes to propagating new plants. Succulents are pretty easy to root but it helps to have a little info to work from.

I was discussing this with a friend who is very knowledgeable about succulents and she gave me a photo-copied sheet of different cutting points on a succulent stem. I wish I could give attribution to this great guideline to follow for cutting succulents for propagation but I was unsuccessful in finding the source.  Anyway, I realize now that I have been cutting too long a stem and will change my propagation technique to get better results.  Here’s a picture with information below it that I have created for your information.

Succulent propagation

A – Cutting this high on the stem is known as “pinching out.” The reason to pinch this high on the plant stem is to create growth for multiple cuttings or have the plants develop into a multi-headed plant. Cutting this high will force side stems to grow that will be viable cuttings themselves once they’ve grown out. The top part that is cut off is not a viable cutting and will not root so just throw it away.

B – Cutting here is optimal for creating a new plant from the top part and forcing new shoots to grow off the stem. This method works best if a few leaves are left on the stem, allowing it to recover more efficiently, producing the most new stems.

C – Cutting at this mark is officially called deadheading. A cut made here will result in a plant that will root easily. The stem most likely won’t develop any shoots and can slowly wither down.

D – Cutting lower on the stem creates a longer stem, but takes much longer to establish roots. The lower stem might produce a few shoots, but can also wither down.

E – Cutting further down the stem is not recommended because the head will have to work hard to get established and the lower stem is likely to die.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Ryan October 24, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Great tips!

Leslie Crawford October 27, 2013 at 11:16 am

Thanks for reading!

Gayle Bryant October 27, 2013 at 11:49 am

Thanks for sharing. This will help me. My biggest problem is now I can’t seem to throw away cuttings and my potting bench and back wall look like a nursery. It may be an obsession.

Leslie Crawford October 27, 2013 at 8:08 pm

Gayle, it IS an obsession! 🙂 Thanks for reading….

Susie Rejko January 16, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Wow! Thanks so much I just cut a start last nite I was at D I would have waited forever.

Tess May 19, 2014 at 2:14 pm

I purchased cuttings from a nursery for a succulent wreath….I have this exact plant…like 12 cuts of it and they are ALL long stemmed….all had been allowed to callous…..I usually use semps and sedum but I ventured into the anemone this year….by this I’m assuming I shoukd recut the cuts?? Their instructions said to secure to the wreath with pins provided and wait 2weeks. Are these not going to survive?? I put them in potting soil because I wasn’t happy with the fullness of the wreath…I figured I could GROW them all….and make my own cuttings next year for a wreath if I chose… I’m questioning the cuts I have in the dirt….

Leslie Crawford May 23, 2014 at 9:46 pm

I would suggest cutting them down a bit. If they are longer, the resulting growth will be spindly or not productive at all. After cutting you can let them callous for a few weeks or put them in cactus potting soil but don’t water for a month. Good luck!

Dori January 4, 2016 at 4:59 am

Love your website. .my question is. .what makes succulents just dry up and fall to pieces. I’ve had several that look fine and then the Leaves just all at once just fall off and die. Thanks

Leslie Crawford January 4, 2016 at 9:36 am

Hi Dori,

It is normal for succulent leaves to shrivel up and fall off starting at the base of the plant and working it’s way up the stem. This would happen gradually over time. It sounds like you are losing a lot of leaves at the same time. The only thing I can think of is that the plant is overwatered or there is some kind of infestation on the plant. Stop watering for a while and look the plant over for bugs or scale. Good luck and thanks for reading!

Jan February 3, 2016 at 11:40 pm


thank you for great tips! I have cut the plant on B segment and already have a bunch of new stems! (about 20 in total) 6 are about 1 cm long, another 6 about 0,5 cm and the rest less than that. Plant looks a bit messy now and I wonder if I should keep them all or cut off all except the big 6? Plant also still has about 7 leaves just below the cut that are eventually are going to drop off, right?

Thank you very much!

Leslie Crawford February 4, 2016 at 8:14 am

Hi Jan,

I think it’s really your preference depending on whether you are going for aesthetics or just propagating. I am finding that different varieties of the same plant can behave differently, so I’m assuming that might have something to do with hybridizing. Hard to say about the leaves below the cut. Time will tell but that’s one of the things I love about all this. It’s always a learning curve!!! Thanks for reading, Leslie

Karen October 30, 2016 at 5:50 pm

Although paraphrased, this information is from the book Succulents: Propagation by Attila Kapitany and Rudolf Schulz.

Leslie Crawford November 8, 2016 at 3:04 pm

Hi Karen, Thanks for your input. The book looks interesting, but actually, the article I was given came out of an old textbook. I did an extensive search to figure out how to buy the old book, but was unsuccessful. The book you highlight will be a great source for my readers. Thanks!

Margaret January 11, 2017 at 3:39 pm

Thanks…thatis so helpful. Now I know why some cuttings have worked while others haven’t….It was hit and miss….hopefully I will have more success now…

Vicki January 16, 2017 at 9:27 am

Thanks! This really works…got a pot started with cuttings and after a couple of months they are looking really healthy!

DRoland February 19, 2017 at 4:21 pm

I live in northwest Oregon and in the winter time some of my echeveria get leggy. Some of them I have to bring inside because they are not winter hardy so these get even less light. We usually have an early but wet spring and the temperatures range between 50 and mid 60s. I have a small Greenhouse so I don’t have to worry about the delicate ones drowning. So, I’m excited to be able to get started on this project in early March. Thank you

Benedict Avila May 8, 2017 at 1:38 am

I’m a neophyte with this hobby, and I’m very much interested with your advice on how to do this stuff. Thank you so much. Looking forward for more on this.

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