Rooting Leaves in Water

Question:  I root my leaf cuttings in water.  The leaf will produce a plantlet, but when I pot it into soil, it dies.  Should I remove the mother leaf when I do this?

Answer:  Though leaves may be rooted in water, there are disadvantages to this method.  The root system that develops is one that is best adapted to growing in water.  Potting the plantlet into soil means adapting to a much different environment.  Also, you’ll notice how the roots “cling” together when removed from the water.  Without a spreading root system, which maximizes exposure to moisture and nutrients, the plantlet is at a further disadvantage when potted into soil.

Partly for these reasons, most growers root leaves in something other than water.  Any very light, porous, medium will work.  These are made up mostly (or entirely) of vermiculite and perlite.  Besides producing more plantlets per leaf, these media will  produce better developed root systems that adapt easily to potting into soil.

As for removing the mother leaf, this can be done when the plantlet is potted alone.  If you’re concerned about the plantlet’s survival, you can place it in a clear sandwich bag for a few weeks.  The high humidity within the bag will keep the plantlet from wilting.  Further watering shouldn’t be needed if the bag is sealed–if it’s too soggy, it may rot.

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