African Violet Leaf Propagation: How to Produce Baby Plantlets?

African Violet Leaf Propagation: How to Produce Baby Plantlets?

How to choose plant leaves to start propagation of African Violets?

  • Choose a mature and healthy African Violet plant to harvest leaves
  • Choose leaves from the middle of the African Violet plant or the third row of leaves from the center of the African Violet plant.
  • Leaves closer to the crown are considered younger/smaller leaves. The leaves towards the outside/edge/larger are older leaves.
  • Younger / smaller leaves are still growing and may not survive through the propagation cycle. They are not suitable for propagation.
  • Older leaves are woody with a tough stem and may take longer to root during the propagation cycle.
  • Choose healthy leaves which are bright green, with no brown patches, no yellowing or limpness.
  • Choose leaves which are at least 0.5 – 3 inches in length depending upon whether they are miniature, semi-miniature or standard African Violet plants.
  • Choose 4-5 leaves from one African Violet plant if possible, otherwise 2 leaves are also fine to start with.
  • Once you have chosen which leaves to harvest for propagation, proceed to snap off the tender leaf stem from the African Violet plant or use a sharp clean knife to cut the tender leaf stem off of the African Violet plant.
  • When removing the leaf from the African Violet plant, make sure to remove the entire leaf stem, closer to the crown or base of the African Violet plant. Below are pictures displaying where to cut the leaf stem from the plant.
  • By removing the leaf stem closer to the plant, you will prevent future root rot from occurring.
  • When choosing leaves from a trailer, pick one of the trailer crowns and select a middle leaf from this crown. Can select a few middle leaves from each crown of the trailer on the same plant. Below are pictures of middle leaves from a trailer plant.
  • For more details on differences between rosette and trailing plants, can visit blog post, “What are the Different Types of African Violet Plants?“.

What kind of rooting soil mix to use for propagating African Violet leaves?

  • Use a light porous rooting soil mix consisting of perlite and peat moss to start propagation of African Violet leaves.
  • Rooting Soil Mix Recipe: 2 cups perlite mixed with 1 cup peat moss. Can substitute 1 cup perlite with 1 cup vermiculite. I use only perlite and peat moss in my mix.

Below are examples of commercially available perlite:

Below are examples of commercially available vermiculite:

  • When selecting perlite and peat moss for your rooting soil mix, its best if they don’t have any fertilizer pre-mixed in the package. Use a virgin mix, with no additional fertilizers in it. This way you have control over when to fertilize.
  • The rooting soil mix should be light weight with the ability to retain water, but also provide adequate drainage too.
  • To start propagating, select a suitable container to start African Violet leaves in. It can be a small 3oz. cup, a small 2 inch pot or a medium-sized plastic take out container.
  • Fill up the pot/container with prepared rooting soil mix.
  • Add luke warm (room temperature) water to the rooting soil mix in the pot/container and allow to drain.
  • The rooting soil mix should be moist, not damp or too dry.

How to prepare leaves for propagating African Violets?

  • When choosing leaves to propagate African Violets, the leaf stem should be at least 1 inch in length from the base of the leaf to the end of the stem.
  • If the leaf stem is longer, can use a sharp clean knife/blade to cut down the leaf stem to 1 inch.

Below are commercially available knifes/blades to cut African Violet leaves:

  • Once the leaf is cut to the correct length, place the leaf on a table with the fuzzy/hairy side of the leaf up.
  • Cut the tip of the leaf at a 45°angle. Try to make a long angled cut, at least 0.5 inch in length.
  • Make sure it’s a nice clean cut; remove any hanging bits of plant tissue from the angled tip.
  • Remember to clean the blade with 70% alcohol between each use. Can dilute 100% /99%alcohol to prepare 70% alcohol (Mix 70ml 100% alcohol with 30ml water to prepare 70% alcohol).

Below are commercially available rubbing alcohol to clean instruments:

  • By cutting the leaf tip at an angle, we are creating a larger surface area for root production from the leaf tip compared to a straight cut of the leaf tip.
  • The angled cut end will now produce roots when potted up in rooting soil mix.
  • It is not necessary, but I have found that when I slice off the top of the leaf too, it creates roots and plantlets faster, compared to when I don’t slice off the leaf top.
  • By slicing off the top of the leaf, it also focuses all the leaf’s energy into producing roots from the cut tip instead of continuing to grow the leaf.

Whether to use rooting hormone for propagating African Violets?

  • Personally, I do not use rooting hormone powder on my leaves when I propagate them. I have however, heard of others regularly using rooting hormone powder.
  • Rooting hormone powder assists the leaf in growing stronger roots.
  • Rooting hormone powder artificially increases the amount of auxin plant hormone located at the tip of the African Violet leaf stem.
  • This increased availability of auxin plant hormone in turn stimulates the production of roots from the tip of the African Violet leaf stem.

Below are a few examples of commercially available rooting hormone powders:

  • To use rooting hormone powder, work in a well-ventilated area, wear gloves and if possible eye googles and face mask for precaution.
  • Gently dip the freshly cut tip of the African Violet leaf stem into rooting hormone powder.
  • The rooting hormone powder should lightly dust/coat the tip of the leaf.
  • Shake off any excess powder from the tip of the African Violet leaf and proceed to the next step of putting down leaves in rooting soil mix.

How to put down leaves in rooting soil mix for propagating African Violets?

  • Prepare the pots/containers filled with rooting soil mix and watered.
  • Remember to label the pots and prepare plant labels for the containers.
  • Using a pencil, chopstick or knitting needle, make a thin small hole in the rooting soil mix, just wide enough for the leaf stem to fit and around half an inch deep.
  • Insert the angled cut end of the leaf stem into the hole and fill in with soil mix, in such a way that the leaf stem sits just below the soil.
  • If the leaf stem seems unstable/wobbly  or is not staying upright, can place two small toothpicks behind the stem to keep it upright or can gently push the leaf stem slightly deeper into the rooting soil mix.
  • When inserting the leaf stem into the soil, don’t place it straight down into the soil, but at a slight angle.
  • Now, the leaf cutting pots need to have their own humid mini-greenhouse environment, to encourage root production.
  • You can place the pots in a sealed Ziploc bag to increase humidity. Can open up the bags a little if the soil seems too damp and if the humidity becomes too high (water droplets are forming inside of the bag and start creating a pool of water in the base of the bag).
  • The pots can also be covered with plastic cups inverted over the top. If the humidity is too high (water droplets start covering the inside of the inverted cups and the soil routinely stays damp), you can poke holes in the plastic cup cover.
  • If using a plastic take out container, poke a few holes in the take out lid and cover the container with the lid.

How to propagate African Violet leaf cuttings in water?

  • African Violet leaves can also be propagated in water.
  • The leaf is similarly prepared as mentioned above.
  • For the container, you can use a glass canning jar / baby food jar, a plastic cup or a small bottle with a narrow opening.
  • First fill the container with lukewarm (room temperature) water.
  • If using a glass jar or plastic cup, cover the open top of the jar with saran wrap, aluminum foil or parchment paper.
  • If using parchment paper, you can secure it over the top of the jar with an elastic band or wire tie.
  • Then poke a small hole in the middle of the saran wrap, foil or parchment paper. The size of the hole, should be enough for the leaf stem to go all the way in the container and the leaf to stay on top.
  • The leaf stem should be submerged in water and the leaf top should be above water.
  • Place the container in a bright location receiving indirect light. If using fluorescent lights, can place on a light stand receiving minimum 12 hrs. of light each day.
  • After 3-5 weeks, roots from the tip of the leaf stem will become visible. This is when you can pot-up the leaves in rooting soil mix as described above.

How much light do African Violet leaf cuttings need?

  • The leaf cutting pots need minimum 12hrs. of light each day. This can be fluorescent lights or indirect natural light (east facing window).
  • The pots should be in a warm area away from any cold drafts.
  • The leaf cutting pots should be kept under consistent light with no major changes until new baby plantlets are seen.

How to water African Violet leaf cuttings?

  • Leaf cutting pots in Ziploc baggies or closed containers, do not need to be frequently watered, as long as the humidity is 60-70% inside the bags/cups.
  • If water droplets are seen inside the bags/cups, then the humidity level is ok and the soil will be damp from this humidity.
  • If the humidity levels increase and the inside of the Ziploc bags become wet, the soil is consistently wet and water starts to pool at the base of the bag, then it’s time to remove the pot from the bag. Place the pot on a newspaper and allow to sit for 2-3hrs, till excess water is absorbed. The clean out the Ziploc bag, remove the water, wipe the interior dry. Place the pot back into the bag.
  • If the humidity levels increase and the inside of the cup/container lid becomes wet, the soil is consistently wet and water starts to pool on the inside, then prop open the lid with a plant label or on the edge of the container.
  • If the soil appears dry to touch and the pot /container is light weight, it is time to water the leaves. Always use lukewarm (room temperature) water.
  • Below are commercially available humidity – temperature meters. I use the AcuRite meter to measure humidity/temperature.

When can you start to see new growth from African Violet leaf cuttings?

  • After 3 months you can start to see green growth emerging from the base of the leaf.
  • As soon as you notice green growth, you can open up the Ziploc bag, still continuing with the same light and watering schedule. The same can be done for leaf cuttings in containers, the lid can be propped up open.
  • The reason to do this is to gently acclimatize the baby plantlets to the outside environment.
  • You can also start to fertilize the baby plantlets with a mild fertilizer (dilute 1/4tsp 7-7-7 fertilizer in 1 gallon of water). I would recommend optimara fertilizer (https://amzn.to/3oXUvCB), dilute to 1/8th tsp per gallon.
  • For information on foliar feeding baby plantlets, can visit blog post, “Foliar Feeding African Violet Plants“.
    • Once the baby plantlets start to grow and become an inch in height, you can remove the pots from the Ziploc bags. Similarly, for leaf cuttings in containers, you can remove the lid and keep the containers open.
    • This should help the baby plantlets to harden off and become comfortable at the temperature and humidity levels in your plant area.
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    18 thoughts on “African Violet Leaf Propagation: How to Produce Baby Plantlets?

    1. does it help propagation if a grow light (red & blue) is used on the newly planted leaves when using the dirt method or the water method. I have both going with the some variety to see which does better. Just not sure about he light.
      Thanks

      1. Hello Betsy,
        Thank you for your question. A balance of red/blue light would work well for leaves. However, if you can adjust the red/blue and only have blue output initially, that would help the root and leaf growth. Then once you see new growth from the leaves, you can slowly switch back to red/blue. I personally have not done this myself. I use my 4ft (homedepot.sjv.io/KM517) or 3ft (homedepot.sjv.io/4vVb0) LED shoplight for my baby plantlets, they seem to be doing well. For my leaves, I use regular fluorescent shoplights. Let me know how your experiment goes, if you see any difference.
        regards,
        BV

    2. Hello! Thank you for helping me get new violet plants from a plant that was knocked over and broke several leaves off. I have 4 sets of “babies” as I call them. My question is what do I do with the single adult leaf after the babies are well established? It looks a little awkward.
      Thank you!

      1. Hello Cindy,
        Thank you for your question. Glad to hear the babies are doing well. You can keep the leaf on the babies, till the babies grow bigger in size. Sometimes the leaf will dry up or rot, by the time the babies are bigger, that’s ok too. If the leaf is still there and your babies are bigger, you can discard the leaf. However, if you would like more babies, you can slice off the top a little and then repot the leaf. You can get more babies, it may take longer, since the leaf is now older. Hope this helps.
        regards,
        BV

    3. My question is about propagating leaves from veragated African violets.

      Some of the leaves are 75% or more white…. will they reproduce and grow like the full green leaves?

      The reason I ask is that In propagating Hoyas, the white leaf will not.

      1. Hi Cathy,
        Thank you for your question. Variegation is a genetic mutation and are passed down through generations. So yes, the yellow or white leaves will turn green over time. Yes, the white leaves can produce green babies with variegation. When you first propagate violets from a green variegated leaf, if the babies are yellow/white in color, wait till the leaves are bigger and they develop green in the leaves. This will make it easier for the baby to survive, once its separated. Hope this helps, BV.

    4. This is what I needed to know and have looked and looked for an answer to. Thank you so much as I wasn’t sure if I should be fertilizing these anemic looking babies or what to do.
      I want to add that this is the best information that exists on the web regarding propagation of African Violets. You have a gift in your ability to communicate.

      1. Hello Carole,

        Thank you so much for your kind words, I really appreciate it. I am happy to hear you found the article useful. Hopefully I will be able to keep on writing more and coming up new articles.
        regards,
        BV

    5. This information about the white babies is what I have been searching for forever. Thanks so much. I wasn’t sure if they needed fertilizer or what to do. Also I want to say this is the best information for the newbie that I have ever seen on propagation. You’re ability to communicate is a gift. Thanks for sharing it with us.

      1. Hello Carole,
        Glad to hear the articles are useful. Thank you for taking the time to read the articles. Appreciate your kindness! regards, BV

    6. How often should I check the incubating leafs for proper moisture when in a closed container. I have not seen any condensation inside the clear container ..

      1. Hello Deborah,
        thank you for your question. If you see no condensation, then you can check to see if the soil seems dry visually or dry to touch. If it is then you can go ahead and give it some water. Sometimes if the soil is dry, the leaf will be slightly limp or wilted. Make sure to check at least once a week for dryness. Especially if you dont see condensation. Hope this helps, regards, BV

        1. Thank you BV. I am anxiously awaiting a success with my first set of propagating leaves.
          I will post when I get some little leaves popping up.

    7. I am wondering why my perlite turns green after a short period of time following planting leaves. I assume this is either Choriphil or algae? Am I doing something wrong?

      Thanks if you know the answer.

      Carole

      1. Hello Carole,
        Yes you are correct, perlite turning green is the algae. This can occur when the humidity and moisture in your plant area is high. Nothing to worry about, this is normal. BV

    8. Great to see the detail description about the propagation. Have already bookmarked your page. A quick question about the water propagation method, when will we decide the rooting system is healthy enough to put it back to the soil? Anything that we have to take extra care while moving the environment from water to soil?

      1. Hello,
        thank you for your question. As long as the roots are at least 1 – 2 inches in length and they seem to a thick bunch, that should be enough to put in soil. If they have tiny baby plantlets on them, then they are absolutely ready to be in soil, you can plant the stem with babies 1 inch inside the soil, can gently cover babies with soil, do not pack the soil, the babies will grow out on top from beneath soil. When moving the rooted leaf from water to soil, use a small pot, around 2″, make sure the soil mix is light with at least 50% perlite and plant the rooted stem at least 1 inch or more inside the soil. Do not water too much at first, keep the soil lightly watered to avoid rotting the leaf. Hope this helps, regards, BV

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