It can be very frustrating to find that you’ve got a succulent cutting that simply won’t root.

Succulents are supposed to be fairly easy plants to grow but when it comes to rooting succulent cuttings, if you don’t get a couple of things right, your chances of success will be limited.

Why Won’t My Succulent Grow Roots?

Succulent cuttings sprouting roots

There are a few different reasons why your succulent might be struggling to root properly, including over-watering, the wrong amount of light, or a poor specimen for rooting.

You will need a good cutting, and the right amounts of light and water to successfully get a succulent to root.

Choosing A Good Specimen

Although succulents do usually root fairly easily, you need to choose your rooting specimen carefully if you want a good chance of it propagating.

Not all parts of the plant are capable of growing well and if you just break off any old piece from your succulent, you aren’t likely to get great results.

Related Article: Does Touching Succulents Hurt Them? (Not Always)

Choosing Succulent Leaves For Propagation

When selecting leaves to try and propagate, avoid leaves that are dry or shriveled.

These will not make strong baby succulents.

You should also avoid leaves that are very small or have just sprouted themselves.

They don’t have the nutrients to create new growth and will rarely succeed – or will do so slowly.

Cuttings of leaves will also fail; if you’ve accidentally snapped a piece off your succulent plant, don’t expect it to magically root.

You need to ensure that your succulent piece has been broken away from the main stem cleanly, as this break is where the new roots will form.

For the best chance of propagation, choose a large, healthy, plump leaf, and snap it off the main stem with care.

Just gently twist the leaf near the bottom – where it is attached to the stem – and it should break off cleanly.

Try not to damage it as you remove it from the plant and transfer it to a tray of soil.

Just lay it down flat on the soil, rather than burying it.

You can place several leaves lying down in a large pot filled with a succulent potting mix or you can place 1 or 2 cuttings in a smaller pot.

Watering Correctly

You do not need to water your succulent cutting excessively for it to root – and too much water will do a lot more harm than good.

The succulent leaf will simply rot if it ends up staying wet for long periods.

Mist very sparingly until you see roots develop.

You should use a spray bottle to lightly mist no more than a couple of times a week.

Some people have a lot of success not giving their succulent cutting any water at all before they see roots develop.

It doesn’t want to be sitting in moisture; you simply want to keep the tip lightly damp to help roots grow.

If you do accidentally get your succulent cutting too wet, pat it with a paper towel to soak up the excess moisture.

If you don’t have a spray bottle, lightly moisten a bit of paper towel and set your succulent on this.

The paper towel will trap most of the moisture, while still allowing some to touch the succulent.

Change the towel reasonably often to prevent any chance of mold.

Once your cutting has developed roots and tiny leaves you can transplant it to their own small pot and wait for the mother leaf to die off.

As your baby succulent grows, mist it thoroughly about once a week in combination with a little soil watering to help its roots develop.

Just remember to only water when the soil is dry.

Give Your Cutting The Right Amount Of Light

Everyone knows that plants like lots of light, so you might think that putting your succulent cutting in a tray beside a sunlit window is a perfect idea.

It will have all the light it needs – but in fact, it will also often burn.

Cuttings do need light, but they need a lot less light than adult plants.

Direct sunlight is often harsh on the exposed roots and can burn the plant because it hasn’t yet got the resilience and stores to survive the intense light.

You should aim to put your succulent cuttings somewhere that has plenty of bright indirect sunlight, but out of direct light.

A windowsill that does not get direct sun will work, or you can rig up a small shade or sheer curtain to protect the cuttings from the full hit of sun.

Alternatively, put them a little way back from the window, so they have enough light to photosynthesize and sprout, but not so much that they are scorched.

If your succulent isn’t rooting, it may also be that it doesn’t have enough light.

Try changing its position and placing it nearer to a window.

Remember that without light, the plant simply won’t grow, and will soon die, so it’s important to get this right.


As long as you have a healthy cutting and you meet its immediate needs (light and moisture), your succulent cutting should sprout.

If you find that it isn’t growing, try increasing the light levels slightly.

If it’s looking dry, add a misting of water, and if you’re worried it’s rotting, pat it dry and wait a while before watering again.