African Violets: Propagation by Leaf

African violets are very easily propagated from leaf.  Even inexperienced growers can quickly produce additional plants and expand their collection.

African violet propagation Step 1:  Remove and trim leaf.  Remove a fresh leaf from the plant that you wish to propagate.  It’s best to use a mature leaf, but not one that’s old and tough.  Using a sharp knife or razor, trim away the top of the leaf blade.  This isn’t a necessary step, but it will encourage faster production of roots and plantlets from the leaf when it’s rooted, and will stop the leaf itself from growing.

African violet leafStep 2:  Cut leaf petiole.  See photo at right. Cut the petiole (i.e. leaf stem) at a 45 degree angle, cut-side facing up, to about 1/2″ in length.  By cutting at an angle, this will encourage more root and plantlet production, and they will more likely appear in front of the rooted leaf, rather than hidden behind or underneath it.

African violet plantletStep 3:  Root the leaf cutting.  See photo at left. Fill a small pot with your rooting medium.  This mix should be very light and porous.  Our rooting mix is 1 part Pro-Mix (a soil-less peat an perlite mix) and 3 parts coarse vermiculite.  Any mix at least this light is acceptable (some growers use only vermiculite or mix with perlite).  The mix should be moistened (not too soggy, or the leaf will rot).  Make a narrow hole in the mix–we like to use a “swizzle stick” for doing this.  Push the leaf petiole into this hole, up to the bottom of the leaf blade (as shown), and firm-in rooting mix around it.  More than one leaf cutting may be rooted into a single pot, if there’s room.  Label the pot and place it into a clear, covered container or plastic baggie.  Then, place this in a bright place with moderate temperature–no direct sun or very warm locations, since this may cause the leaf cutting to rot or burn.

AFrican violet plantletsStep 4:  Plantlets at 12 weeks.  One or more plantlets will begin to develop from the cut end of the rooted leaf’s petiole, and will make their way above the soil.  Those pictured are ready to be separated and planted now, but we usually wait 4-5 months, since the extra time allows more plantlets to grow from the cutting.  The plantlets also will be just a bit bigger, easier to handle, and more likely to survive their transplanting.

African violet plantletsStep 5:  Separate plantlets from leaf cutting.  See photo at right. When plantlets are large enough for you to comfortably handle them, they can be separated from the “mother” leaf.  Remove the cutting from its pot, firmly grasp a plantlet, and gently pull it away from the leaf cutting.  If your rooting mix is light, and not overly soggy, this should be easily done without need for a knife.  Don’t worry too much if your plantlet doesn’t have many (or even any) roots–so long as the plantlet itself is healthy, it will produce roots when it is potted.

African violet plantletStep 6:  Prepare pot for plantlet.  See photo at left. Fill a small pot (2″ or 2 1/4″) with your regular soil mix.  Make a small hole deep enough to hold the plantlet to be potted–we like to use an old pencil to do this.

African violet plantletStep 7:  Pot plantlet.  See photo at right.Gently push plantlet into hole and firm-in soil around it.  Plantlet should be placed deep enough into soil so that none of the bare central stem or ‘trunk’ is exposed, but not so deep as to bury the tiny growing point in the center of the plant.

African violet plantletStep 8:  You’re done!  Label the plant and lightly water.  Larger plantlets can be immediately placed amongst your other violets.  If the plantlet is still very small and/or has few roots, you might want to place it into a clear, covered container or plastic baggie.  This will provide a small “terrarium”-like environment, and will protect it while it gets established.  Remove it from this container in a few weeks.

23 comments

  • I have a purple African violet plant which is 6″ wide and I was adding soil and the leaves and neck came away from the root. Amazingly it was only one strand of the root keeping the whole plant alive. I re-potted with extra soil and watered through the bottom and also the top. Was this correct or should I have put the neck in water and waited for roots to reappear? It is flowering but the leaves that are under are wilting. I would appreciate your help as my local nursery suggested I check on line which is where I found you.

  • I have rooted a leaf in water and there are roots and tiny leaves. What do I do next to ensure success? My last attempt succeeded for a while and then the plantlet died. I had planted the plantlet in African Violet potting soil. Maybe the soil was too dry or too moist?

    • When plantlet is large enough for you to confidently handle it, pot it into a small (2-2.5″) pot. Keep soil moist, not soggy. You can place in clear container or bag if you worry about it, until it shows growth. Best to root leaves directly in a rooting mix rather than water, since this avoids having the plantlet adapt and produce leaves for a different medium.

  • I have a very old violet plant (guessing 15 years+) that has not bloomed in several years. Have tried African Violet fertilizer when watering, and have repotted it a few times to see if the soil was to blame. The leaves look healthy, but there are very few roots. Thinking of trying to propagate some leaves and see what happens. Any suggestions though on if the original plant can be revitalized and bloom again?

    • African violets can live “forever” if taken care of and repotted when needed. Use a light soil and proper size pot (discussion of this found elsewhere on these pages)–see our “restoring an African violet” lesson, for example. If you have good light and otherwise good care, it should bloom.

  • I tried to propagate a leaf with the stem back in August. The leaf still looks healthy and strong, but I haven’t seen anything sprouting yet. Is there a chance something will still come out of it or should I give up?

    • It’s been nearly 5 months. It may still produce plantlets, but it should have already by now. Root leaves that are not old and tough–young, but mature, leaves are the best. Most people tend to use very old, outer leaves, that they would normally discard anyway, for propagation. These tend to be the slowest to root and produce plantlets. Environment is important, too, but start with younger, fresher, leaves to improve your chances.

  • I tryed to start leaves in a covered plastic cake container, but al they did was rotttttttttt. What did I do wrong, I heard the humity was good for them.
    Victoria

    • Probably kept soil too wet. Soil should be moist, but not wet or soggy. Also, keep at room temperature and not overly warm.

  • I inherited my grandmother’s green thumb when it comes to African violets. At present I have 15 plants, all blooming beautifully. I have a “nursery” window with 5 pots of cuttings I rooted in water & am patiently waiting for babies. 5 plants I grew from leaflet cuttings are also doing great . How long before my plants start to bloom that I grew from cuttings ?

    • For us, it’s between 3-5 months from rooting leaf cuttings to potting plantlets. Another 3-6 months until blooming. Much depends upon the variety, environment and care.

  • Dear VB
    I have been given a fresh violet leaf in beautiful condition but it is without a stem. I have put it in water anyway and my question is – am I wasting my time or if I look after it will it eventually take?

    • You can “create” a petiole (stem) from the leaf blade. With sharp knife/razor cut away the lower part of the leaf blade on either side of the main rib. Now root as normal–better to root in moist soil or similar medium rather than water.

  • I have 4 leaf cutting which I rooting in soil, 2 from plant A and 2 from plant B. It’s been just over 5 months since I began these leaves. The cuttings from plant A have several new leaves each but they are just barely above the soil. What is going on? Are these viable?
    The cuttings from plant B, one is doing great and the other is doing okay. I did this last year from plant C and everything worked great. All 3 plants were gifts so I don’t know their origins.

    • Not sure of the question exactly. How soon plantlets appear from leaf cuttings, and how well they grow, will depend greatly upon the variety being propagated (genetics) as well as the condition of the leaf being rooted. As a general rule, green (nonvariegated) leaves, and mature, yet not old leaves (not from the old, outer row) will root and produce plants more quickly. The depth, and angle, of the rooted leaf in the soil also plays a part–obviously, if you root the leaf deeper into soil, it will take plantlets longer to make their way to top. Of course, care and environment are important, as well.

    • So these “ground huggers” may be viable and given more time may get taller? So I wait until they do get taller to transplant?

    • Would need to see plant to know exactly what you mean, but yes. Transplant whenever they are large enough that you are confident in handling them.

  • Paulette Shaddy

    A friend gave me a violet leaf I thought it would come up from the bottom as usual but after several months I added some fertilizer balls not many to the water I have sprouts up and down the stem. And the leaf got damaged at some point I have a sprout comming from it nothing has come from the bottom yet

    • Not sure if this is a question. Plantlets typically sprout from the bottom of the rooted petiole, but not always. One trick, that some use, is to create additional small cuts or “nicks” along the petiole to encourage additional plantlets to sprout from these as well. The idea is to increase the number of plantlets sprouting from the leaf. We’ve tried this but, usually, the few additional plantlets tend not to be worth the extra effort in preparing the leaves.

  • This will be my first attempt at starting new African violets from leaf. I have a question about watering the pots with the cuttings while you wait for plantlets to appear after the initial moistening. Do you need to water during that time? Do you ever remove them from the plastic covering during those weeks before separating and potting the new plants?

    • You shouldn’t need to. If the soil is moist (not soggy) and under cover, it shouldn’t dry out much if left covered. Ideally, it will be slightly dry, or beginning to, by the time the plantlets are ready to pot.

  • Lorraine Arnott

    I use the rooting method in water, but I did not know it takes 4-5 months for them to develop into a plant.
    Just love them and really battle to get them to grow. Have just started another 5 leaves and they are looking good.

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