Blog / Garden / Succulents

How To Succulent Propagation: Water Method

succulents, water propagation, succulent leaves, growing roots, baby plants, rooting

If you follow me on any social platform, you’ll know that I have an absolute love of succulents! I’m not alone, because my succulent posts are often among my most liked. One of the most amazing things about succulents is their ability to propagate from not only cutting but from the leaf as well. Today, I’m sharing a fairly underutilized method of succulent propagation, water.

Many succulent owners shy away from water propagation because too much water for succulents planted in soil typically leads to a very common problem, root rot. I have lost my fair share of succies to root rot, as it is probably one of the most common causes of succulent demise, especially in a humid or moist climate. I’m located in zone 8a in Georgia, and finding succulents is not always an easy task, so naturally, I love to grow more from my existing plants.

  To successfully water propagate a succulent, you will need to:

  1.  Cleanly remove several healthy leaves from the lowest point you can from a succulent. Obviously you don’t want to destroy your whole plant and just randomly pull leaves from the top of the center as this can permanently damage your plant.
  2. This step is very important and is often overlooked and can destroy your attempt at water propagation. Allow your leaves to callous over for several days. A healthy leaf will not die without a water source very quickly, and if your leaf does wither in a few days time, it would not have been a valid propagator to begin with.
  3.  Depending on the size of the leaf, you can either set it in a narrow neck bottle filled with water or cover a jar of water with plastic wrap and cut slits to insert and hold your leaf tips into the water.
  4.  Be sure to set your bottle or jar in a window sill or near bright filtered light. You don’t want direct sunlight to beam down on your propagating leaves and burn them.
  5.  Check on your leaves periodically. You will want to change out the water about once a week. I just leave the leaves in the plastic wrap, as to not to disturb the emerging roots and or a baby succulent, and gently lift off of the jar to change out the water, and then replace the plastic cover with leaves.
  6.  Some leaves will fail to develop and die. Some leaves will only grow roots and no plant. The leaves that do grow roots and a plant will eventually shrivel up. The leaf can be gently removed and the plant can be planted in soil.

Congratulations, you now have the information you need to propagate to your little heart’s content. Good Luck!






  • Zahra
    October 14, 2018 at 6:05 pm

    Hi Whitney.

    I started leaf propagation water (not with direct contact) with Debbie and Von Nuremburg.

    10 days in, pink roots appeared.

    30 days in, 3 of the 15 leaves have white fuzz on the roots.

    1 week later, those same leaves have browning roots.

    Is this root rot?

    Can i save them?

    Will they infect the others?

    Should i lay them on soil?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    • Whitney Shaffer
      March 6, 2019 at 1:21 pm

      Most of my Debbies and PVNs do start out with pink roots, often they will turn white or a browning color with time. Sometimes the roots that you have will dry out if they are not getting enough water. I would suggest trying some contact with the water at the tips, do not fully immerse the leaf in the future. Root rot you most often see in more mature plants. Leaf propagators tend to shrivel up and die from lack of water, damage to the roots, or waiting too long to plant. I wouldn’t be afraid to have them near your other leaves. I would try making sure the roots have some contact with the soil. When your parent leaf starts to shrivel and turn brown you can transfer to soil, or you can always try and plant the existing roots in soil. Give them a couple of days for the roots to heal before watering and then water when the soil is dry to the touch. Good Luck!

  • Aleena
    January 14, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    What’s the significance of using the plastic wrap? I’ve noticed that if I just put the propagating leave in water without wrap half do fine and half mold over and die. Also, do you wait till there are roots to stick them in water?

    • Whitney Shaffer
      March 6, 2019 at 1:15 pm

      I use the plastic wrap to support my leaves above the water. Also, the plastic wrap helps prevent evaporation of the water and I find that the leaves tend to get less moldy. All leaves will not root, all will not sprout a baby, just know that there is no 100% success rate with propagation for anyone. To answer your other question, I let the ends of my leaf callous over and dry for a few days after pulling away from the parent plant before I place them in water. I do not wait for roots before doing so. Good Luck!

  • Tammy
    February 11, 2019 at 6:25 pm

    Can you please show pictures of leaves that are ready to be planted? I have no problem getting roots on my propagated leaves but when I move them to pots they die. I’m not sure if I’m doing it to soon or too late.

    • Whitney Shaffer
      March 6, 2019 at 1:10 pm


      I will make a note to do another blog post on that topic. I have had some issues with some water propagated succulent babies not transitioning well to soil in the past. It seems to help if I keep the soil really moist after I plant the roots, and then taper down the waterings. Do not water the first two days after moving to soil though. I have found that watering roots that are damaged in the potting process increases your chances of root rot and death. Also I don’t remove the leaves from my propagated succulents when I move them to soil, I let them fall off on their own. That actually helps to stabilize the plant a bit until its roots are accustomed to the soil. There is no perfect size to plant, but I will make a post with some pictures for your reference soon. Good Luck!

  • […] from my usual gardening posts, I wanted to include another how to project. This is a quick project about how to create a live moss topped urn or decorative bowl that should […]


Leave a Reply