Have you ever taken leaves off succulents in the hope of growing a new plant and nothing happened? There are a few reasons behind failed attempts at propagating succulents through leaf and one of the major ones is the fact that some succulents just do not reproduce through leaves. Below I will list plants that look like they will grow from leaf, but do not possess this ability.
Aeonium Arboreum and pretty much all other Aeonium will not reproduce from leaf and cannot be propagated this way. The leaves come off easy enough but unfortunately new growth will never happen and the leaf will eventually die off.
Aeonium Arboreum and other Aeonium look like plants that could be propagated from leaves, especially the ones with chunkier leaves, such as the Kiwi or Sunburst. The leaves also snap away from the stem very easily, but that is about it. They will either dry out or rot away. Sometimes root growth may happen, but new plants will not emerge.
Aeonium are thankfully very generous with their offsets and propagate easily from cutting or even stem sections.
Aloe Vera and, in fact, all aloes are highly unlikely to ever produce plants from a leaf. They can be easily propagated by offset division, but single Aloe leaves will eventually just rot.
I can hear many of you being doubtful of this as there are numerous sites and videos on the ol’ internet claiming aloe can be grown just by cutting leaves, though if you look closely there is no evidence this actually works and all of the videos (apart from the ones disproving the fact) end in the planting stage.
For aloe leaf to send root, part of the stem will have to present as well, but even then propagation may not work. To be honest, aloe plants are quite weedy and once established you will never need to even think of leaf propagation as plenty of offsets will form at the base.
Other aloe like plants such as gasteraloe, haworthia, gasteria exist and all are closely related to aloe. Paradoxically, they are also able to reproduce from leaves! So if you see a photo of an ‘aloe’ leaf cutting sprouting new growth, it is likely to be gasteraloe, haworthia or gasteria.
The very popular Cotyledon Tomentosa or ‘the bear’s paw’ is another succulent that will not grow a new plant from leaves. The leaf will dry or rot away instead of reproducing. This plant best reproduces by division or stem cuttings.
Cotyledon Tomentosa leaves on their own will not grow, but if a section of the stem is present it should produce leaves and new branches. The best way to propagate this plant is by cutting off sections that have at least six leaves and are quite advanced.
Delosperma Echinatum and other delosperma species are highly unlikely to grow from leaves and need a section of the stem to produce new growth. These succulents are best propagated by cuttings or division. They will also grow from seed, but this reproduction method is slow.
Although there are Peperomia species that will propagate from leaf, Peperomia Graveolens and the very similar Asperula do not have this ability and instead propagate by division and cuttings.
Sedum Pachyphyllum or ‘Blue Jelly Beans’ is one of the 3 jelly bean plants. The other two propagate incredibly easily by leaf, but not Pachyphyllum. The leaves are easy to take off but will die without growing any new plants.
The other two jelly bean succulents Sedum Rubrotinctum and its variegated version the Rubrotinctum Aurora reproduce by fallen leaves and can spread quite some distance through this method. Sedum Pachyphyllum is the odd one out. Any leaves that are taken off will shrivel up and die.
Senecio Serpens or the Blue Chalksticks will send roots if a leaf is planted but according to our experiments no leaves will emerge and eventually the leaf dies. This spreading succulent can be instead reproduced by cuttings.
For a leaf to successfully grow into a plant, section of the stalk needs to be present.
Xerosicyos Danguyi or the Silver Dollar Vine is another succulent that will grow roots from a separated leaf but no other growth. A part of the stalk will need to be cut off with a leaf in order for the plant to reproduce.
We have a full article on this plant and propagation here.
Other Succulents that are very hard to reproduce from leaves
Some succulents can be raised from leaves but it is often a fruitless or difficult process
Senecio Rowleyanus/ Radicans
If you would like to learn about succulents that are super easy to grow from leaf and how to go about it, see another one of my posts about leaf propagation.