How to Grow a Succulent From a Leaf Easy
How to Grow a Succulent from a Leaf
Succulents are such fabulous types of plants and yet look mystifying in many ways. They belong to the plant kingdom but they look different. And because they have these unique characteristics, they are becoming popular for decorative purposes and many people want to know how to grow a succulent from a leaf. Yes, many succulents can be propagated through their leaves as they don’t generally develop hard stems.
Interestingly, the leaves of the succulents don’t have stomata on them and they only process photosynthesis thru their stems. With these simple features of the succulents, some of us still don’t understand how these plants propagate, how they can be cared for and where they can thrive?
Many people see that the cacti family also belongs to the succulent plant species but some plant enthusiasts don’t agree. But according to many plant scientists, botanically, any of the cactus species can be considered a succulent plant. But how do we recognize succulents from other plants? Can all succulents grow in sand like the cacti if they belong to the succulents family? And how about succulent leaves turning brown, what does this mean?
What Are Succulents?
Succulents are under the category of the plant kingdom. But their great difference compared to the common plants is that they have more fleshy parts. From its stems, trunks and leaves, these contain a lot of water they naturally store more water in their tissues than other plants. Generally, succulents can grow in areas where there is very little water and some species can thrive even in the desert-like the cactus.
The direct definition of succulent in the English dictionary, if we’re talking about food, is for being tender, juicy and tasty. But with the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a succulent plant has fleshy tissues to conserve moisture and this is true with succulent plants. Furthermore, some succulents have medicinal qualities such as the Jewels of Opar (Talinum paniculatum) which is edible and said to relieve constipation and promote the production of milk to breastfeeding mothers. The Rhodiola rosea for the relief of depression and stress, and much more.
So it’s not extraordinary that many people are interested in how to grow a succulent from a leaf because aside from most of them being evergreens and best as ornamental plants, they can also provide medicinal values to man. But is it really that easy that succulents can be grown from leaves?
Succulents That Can Be Reproduced By Their Leaves?
Take note that most of the succulents do not bear fruit which is the primary source of origin for most plants. Some bear flowers but not to the point of producing fruit. However, there is one succulent plant that is famous for its delicious fruit and this is the “dragon fruit” which is a type of cactus. As such, even though there are people who don’t see the cacti to be succulent plants, the dragon plants’ fruits are known to be some of the world’s most delicious succulent fruits produced by amazing succulent plants.
On the one hand, what many people want with succulents is their captivating colors and their exceptional forms. And not only that, they are unique in many ways but are also the easiest plants to propagate and grow. Fortunately, most of them can be reproduced through their leaves and stem cuttings.
The following are examples of succulents that can be reproduced with their leaves or leaf cuttings:
It is basically easy to propagate succulents with their leaves. So for the curious ones who want to know how to grow a succulent from a leaf, here are the simple steps:
Choose a mature leaf that looks healthy and plump from your plant. A healthy-looking mature leaf is the best choice for reproducing another succulent plant because it possesses all the essential components to bear the characteristics of its mother plant.
Cut the mature leaf from its base. The mature leaf has the potential to produce more roots than the young leaves. If you don’t want to cut any leaf because you don’t want to alter the beautiful shape of our succulents, you can try planting a fallen leaf that is not rotten or withered.
Wrap the leaves in a paper towel. Wrapping the cut leaves in a dry paper towel is important to avoid exposing the wound and to let the cut ends dry. Don’t cut and plant the leaves in the soil right away because soil pathogens may attack the fresh exposed fleshy part and the leaf may rot.
Plant the leaves when the cut ends are dry. The cut leaves will be dry in 2 – 3 days and they can now be planted in the potting soil. If you are growing them as seedlings and want to transfer them on bigger pots when they form roots, you can plant them on a plant tray with about 2 to 3 inches thick potting soil and plant them adjacent to each other. But if you want them to form roots right in a pot, plant about 2 to 3 leaves in one pot at a uniformed distance right at the center of the pot.
In planting, dig about 2-inch deep into the potting soil and carefully place the plant into the hole and bury its roots along with about an inch of the leaves.
Things to Remember When Growing Succulents from Leaves
When reproducing succulents with their leaves, about 20 to 30 percent of these may rot or wilt but the success rate of growing roots also depends on the type of succulents you are planting, the environmental conditions and the type of soil you are planting them in. The root of the cut leaves may take about a month so be patient when growing succulents from leaves.
Another important thing to remember when learning how to grow a succulent from a leaf successfully is the watering. Yes, most of the succulents we know prefer dry soil and a bit warmer climate. But it does not mean you can only water your succulents whenever their soil is dry. Some succulents can live quite well on a bit of dryish soil while other varieties only need water once a week.
But if you see that the plant looks weak and softer than usual, check the soil. You may be watering too much or underwatering. Also, succulents need light about 6 hours a day. If you cannot take them outside because you intend to keep them indoors, at least place them where they can get some light like on window sills or light using artificial light as a 60-watt bulb for at least 10 hours a day.
Yet, you must understand the biological requirements of your succulents and you must do some research about them. Some types don’t need direct sunlight and they thrive well under shade. Some do need a good amount of sunlight everyday so they better be grown outdoors.
Can Succulents Grow in Sand?
If you look at the botanical aspect of the succulents, some of them are drought-tolerant and can grow in sand and a good example are the cactus family. However, most succulents will not survive in the sand alone. Primarily, sand alone does not have the nutrients that the succulents need to grow and survive. Sand is also very porous which means it cannot keep water for long. So if you’re putting only sand as your potting medium and water your plant regularly, the roots of your succulents may not have enough time to absorb it because sand can dry up easily.
Unfortunately, this may lead to the roots drying up and you know what can happen if the roots dry up.
If you find succulents in the driest and arid areas and growing in sand alone, these species have already adapted to their environment that they can already produce for themselves the sustenance they need to survive. But for our domesticated succulents, sand is good but only if you mix it with garden soil and best if you can have some perlites along with the soil. The majority of the succulents we grow in our gardens and indoors need good soil.
Sand mixed with garden or potting soil is good soil and it can hold just enough water for the succulent to thrive. The perlite, however, is optional. If you want your soil to have better drainage, the perlite can prevent the soil from getting compacted. So for those who are asking – can succulents grow in sand” yes, but better mix the sand with rich organic soil but don’t use fine sand but coarse sand. You can mix 3 parts garden soil to 2 parts coarse sand and you can add one part perlite for better water retention and at the same time good drainage.
Here are some of the succulents that can grow well in the sand but with mixed potting soil and most of these are best as outdoor succulents:
Aloe ferox or the ‘Bitter Aloe’ – These can grow well in sandy soil but it has thorny leaves and are good for outdoor planting only. Produces long, spiky tail-like orange flowers and can grow big and wide.
Senecio serpens or the ‘Blue Chalksticks’ – It can grow well in sand with a bit of water and some organic soil because it can survive along the rocky sandstone on crevices and slopes. This succulent does not bear flowers but it can be kept as an indoor plant while small and does not have thorns.
Agave americana or the ‘Century Plant’ – It can also thrive well in sandy soil as well as in any type of soil. Best for growing outdoors because it has thorns at the end of its leaves, this is an evergreen succulent with sword-like shaped leaves.
Corpuscularia lehmannii or the ‘Ice Plant’ – Also loves the sand but will not thrive in a cold climate. It produces beautiful flowers that look like daisies. This does not grow big but grows its leaves like in stacks and produces normally a single flower. Great for indoors.
Euphorbia milii or the ‘Crown of Thorns’ – Can survive in sandy soil and it can also produce attractive reddish-pink flowers.
What is the Problem with Succulent Leaves Turning Brown?
Succulents are also sensitive to certain conditions that they may show signs of distress on their leaves and may die if the issues are not solved. One example is the succulent leaves turning brown.
If you want to know how to grow a succulent from a leaf but do not want to see the leaves turning brown as it becomes a new plant, check out for these causes and how to help your plants recover.
1. Damage Due to Too Much Exposure to the Sun
Yes, many of our succulents, especially those growing outdoors love the sun. But some varieties don’t like getting exposed to heat from the sun they get sun damage and their leaves will slowly turn brown or shrivel. So the proper placing of your plant should be based on the type of succulent plant you chose to grow. How to know that your plant is sensitive to too much exposure to the sun is when you see brown spots on its leaves which indicate sunburn. Unfortunately, these spots will not vanish even if you place your plant on a more shaded area.
What You Should Do:
Whenever you notice that the succulent leaves are turning brown, place your plants under the shade of trees if they are in pots or transfer them to soil where they can still get some light but are not directly heated by the sun. If your succulent is an indoor type and has softer stems and leaves, better place them near the window or the door or take them out in the morning but bring them again indoors once the sun gets hotter.
2. Underwatering or Lack of Water
Any plant that needs adequate water when under watered may show signs of distress like leaves turning brown. Water is needed by the succulents to grow and sustain them. First, the leaves may turn brown indicating it’s dying. Then these will shrivel and start to fall off.
What You Should Do:
To check the soil if it’s keeping enough moisture, dip your finger near the base of the plant about 1.5 inches deep. If you feel the soil cold and a bit moist, this is enough to keep the succulent alive and don’t water it anymore. But if it feels dry and grainy, your plant can be underwatered so put in just enough water.
Let’s say your succulent has enough water and you’re keeping it in a place where it gets enough sunshine but its leaves still look shriveled and turning brown, you may have an unhealthy plant on your hands. Have you potted it with sand only or mixed potting soil.
Does the soil it’s planted in look grayish with no organic matter in it? Poor soil will result in poor plant growth. But this is not too late. Below are the things you should do.
What You Should Do:
Your plant probably needs a bigger pot to extend its roots and get some nourishment from the soil. Even if the soil is rich in nutrients, once the succulent plant has grown and its roots get longer, it will still show signs of burned leaves because of undernourishment. But if your plant is still small and its soil is poor, change this to a well-drained potting mix and use a bit of well-balanced fertilizer to sustain its needs. Succulents don’t require fertilizer but give it just enough to feed on.
In general, succulents can grow in semi-desert and semi-arid areas. So remember that they don’t require frequent watering. Its soil must always be well-drained; that’s why we recommend sandy soil with a mixture of potting soil for better drainage. If your succulent plant gets waterlogged, it will only take a few days before it shows browning of leaves and it will eventually wilt and die.
You see now how to grow a succulent from a leaf is really easy. The characteristics of most succulents makes them some of the most favorable plants to propagate and to keep indoors. They do not require too much water and fertilizer and they only need very minimal maintenance. So if you don’t have time to care for plants that need regular management, the succulents are the best options . Checkout our weeds in lawns identification blog for a nice tidy garden.