The Violet Barn   

Propagation by blossom stem

Sometimes its difficult to propagate African violets by leaf cutting.  One example is "chimeras", where propagation by leaf cutting rarely produces plantlets that will bloom true to description (identical to the plant from which the leaf was taken).  Other very genetically unstable varieties, like the most unusual multicolor or fantasy-blossomed varieties can also prove difficult to propagate "true" by leaf cutting

One alternative is to propagate by suckers (shown elsewhere on this site).  Another is to propagate by blossom stems.  African violets, like most gesneriads, are very easy to propagate in many different ways.  Almost any part of the plant can be used in propagation if properly done.  Here's how we do it.

Step 1.  Remove open blooms from plant, leaving only peduncles.  Grow your plant as you normally would, but remove open blooms from the blossom stem (peduncle), before it fades.  Carefully cut  beneath the bloom, but above the next pedicle (joint from which another bloom or bud appears).

Doing this does two things.  First, it keeps the stem fresh.  If all blooms are allowed to open and are kept until spent, the blossom stem will no longer be fresh enough to successfully root later.  Also, we intend to produce plants from this stem, not flowers, so we don't want to discourage blossom production at much as possible--we want the blossom stem, not the blooms!

 

Step 1.  Remove open blooms from plant, leaving only peduncles.  Grow your plant as you normally would, but remove open blooms from the blossom stem (peduncle), before it fades.  Carefully cut  beneath the bloom, but above the next pedicle (joint from which another bloom or bud appears).

Doing this does two things.  First, it keeps the stem fresh.  If all blooms are allowed to open and are kept until spent, the blossom stem will no longer be fresh enough to successfully root later.  Also, we intend to produce plants from this stem, not flowers, so we don't want to discourage blossom production at much as possible--we want the blossom stem, not the blooms!

Step 2.  Remove buds and pedicels above leaflets.  Each blossom stem will have a pair of "leaflets" that appear on either side of the stem, just below the lowest-most pedicels (at the lowest junction).  It is at this point that the stem will eventually produce real leaves.  Therefore, cut away all the growth just above this point.

Step 3.  Cut blossom stem below leaflets.  You will need a small portion of the blossom stem to root, so cut the stem about 1/4" below the leaflets.

Step 4.  The cut blossom stems ready to root.

At far left is the original blossom stem, just after having been removed from the plant, then shown with the cuts made in steps 2 and 3.

At near left are a number of cut blossom stems ready for rooting.  Each is about 1/4" long with one pair of leaflets.

Step 5.  Rooting the blossom stems.  Fill a small pot with a light, porous, rooting mix.  This should contain well over 50 percent of vermiculite and/or perlite.  Water the mix so that it is damp, but not soggy.

Next, make a small "pilot" hole in the soil for each of the stems you will be rooting in the pot (shown at near right).  This will make it easier to insert the stems without damaging them.

Then insert each of the blossom stems into the holes (shown at far right).  Insert them fully, so that the small "leaflets" are at soil level.  Be sure the stems are firmly in the soil and aren't loose or easily dislodged.  They will root better if this is so.  If you are successful, the stem will root below soil level, and leaves (and a plantlet) will appear at soil level from the "leaflets".

Step 6.  Wait for the plantlets to appear!

At far left is the finished pot of rooted blossom stems.  We'll usually put 6 to 8 stems into a 2 1/4" pot.

At near left is the a pot of rooted blossom stems about 3 months later, beginning to produce small plantlets.  In another couple of months, these will be large enough to root individually.

Step 7.  Separate and pot the plantlets. 

At near right is a pot of fully sprouted plantlets ready to pot into individual pots.  At this point you can pot these plantlets in the same way as you would if they had been produced from leaf cuttings.

At far right is a tray of plantlets after potting, each in its own pot.