Water Propagation for succulents: Does it really work?
Updated: May 10
I have been asked about this question a lot of times and since I haven't tried it myself, I hesitated to give an answer. Instead, I also asked myself the same question.
The idea is a bit questionable for me, because as I learned in school, succulents are dry loving plants that will rot with too much watering. But some growers said, that because it is sitting on clean water there is lesser microorganisms than in soil. I propagated succulents in soil before and it worked for my Jade plant. You can check the blog here.
This topic is really intriguing for me, that is why I wanted to try and see for myself.
For this project, I decided to propagate an Echeveria 'Perle von Nurnberg', Echeveria sedeveria 'Blue Elf' and Crassula ovata 'Hobbit'.(I hope I got their name right.)
According to my research, these are the varieties that are easy to propagate and works well with water propagation.
Water propagation is not 100% effective (keep that in mind) according to some growers but it works well for some and with certain varieties of succulents. For me, I'll try it now with these two varieties and even if that doesn't work, I'll keep on trying.
So, what do we need?
We need to take our plant sample. For my Echeveria 'Perle von Nurnberg', I took a leaf sample.
For the Crassula ovata 'Hobbit', I got a leaf sample as well.
And for the Echeveria setosa 'Fuzzy', I took a baby sprout.
How to get samples?
To get the leaf sample, lightly move the leaf from side to side. It comes off easily.
For the baby sprout, it is a bit difficult because it was under the plant. I must take the plant off the pot and loosen the soil surrounding the sprout. Then, lightly move it sideways, just like how you would take a leaf. Remember to put your mother succulent back on the pot with the soil.
Next thing is to leave the samples to callus, usually 3-5 days. It depends on how big your sample is and, in my case, the Crassula leaf was the one that took a while to callus.
Once you noticed that they've callused, it is time to prepare our propagation medium.
Fill a glass container with distilled water or any clean water. I used boiled water that was cooled down to room temperature. Don't use hot water. Boiled water is not as pure as distilled, but it will do.
Then, cover the glass with cling film and secure it on the edges.
To put our samples in, use a toothpick to pierce through the plastic.
When putting in the sample, don't submerge the succulent in as it might cause rotting. Just leave it hovering on the water.
Now, we are done preparing all we have to do now is wait for roots to appear. According to some growers, it took them 6 weeks before roots appeared. That means we must be patient.
I noticed one root on the Echeveria sedeveria 'Blue Elf' , but it was still small. (refer to picture below). No roots yet from the Crassula. The other succulent that I can't identify is actually growing well with 2 roots.
They have all grown well and developed roots, even the Hobbit leaf. I decided today to pot them on their own pots after the pictorial.
Look how fresh those roots are.
I then filled a small pot (with drainage holes at the bottom, don't forget!) with succulent potting mix.
It was dry, I don't know why it looks wet on the picture. I did not water them because succulents don't really like too much water. I will let it settle for a week on its new pot and then I will water.
Probably the cutest one yet. Hope it will establish in his new home.
There they are, only after 20 days. I did have one casualty on this project. The Echeveria 'Perle von Nurnberg' rot on water in just 5 days. The plant itself is not generally doing well so I let it rest for a while. I will try again once it is healthier because the propagation will only work if the sample you got is healthy enough to sustain itself until it roots.
Soil vs. Water propagation Conclusion
Well, overall it was a good result. It was a couple of days ahead from my soil propagation (Check this link for soil propagation with Jade plant.) but there is a very high risk of rotting with water propagation and some plants may not tolerate it.
I will update this blog about how they establish in their new soil because it was one of the issues that succulent propagators said they encountered when they water propagate their succulents.
So, stay tuned for that.
Thank you and I hope you do try some of the tips that I shared in my blog. I hope you find them useful. Share your pictures on the comments beloow, I'd love to see successful plant stories.