African violets can be propagated from their leaves easily. It takes some patience and time, but it’s incredibly fulfilling to watch a tiny plant emerge from the soil and know that you helped it to grow!
To propagate an African violet from a leaf:
- #1 Choose a leaf that is healthy and vibrant
- #2 Cut the leaf off of the plant using pruning shears, a sharp knife, or snap it off with your fingers.
- #3 Plant the leaf in super well-draining mix so the petiole is buried
- #4 Water regularly when dry or nearly dry
- #5 Check the leaf for signs of roots by tugging gently
- #6 Watch a baby plant emerge from the potting mix and grow!
- #7 When the baby plant is a couple of inches in diameter, it’s ready to grow on its own and the leaf used to propagate can be removed!
- #8 Repot plantlet into your normal potting mix for African violets
- Professional leaf propagation tips – if you want to up your game!
- Are there other ways to propagate?
- Related Posts
#1 Choose a leaf that is healthy and vibrant
It can be tempting to take off the ugly, aging leaf from the plant for propagation because it isn’t adding to the plant’s beauty anymore.
However, the leaf is much more likely to root and grow a baby plant if its mature, healthy, and vibrant.
You also do not want to try to use a baby leaf to propagate because it may not have the maturity needed to produce a new plant. If the leaf is smaller in size, lighter in color, or the newest growth in the middle of the crown, it is best to wait.
Below you can see which leaf I will use to propagate. It isn’t a leaf from the very bottom, oldest row, but it is still mature.
#2 Cut the leaf off of the plant using pruning shears, a sharp knife, or snap it off with your fingers.
Both the mother plant and the leaf used for propagation fair best when a sharp cut or clean break is made.
If a dull blade or your fingers are used to pinch it off, it tends to crush the stem surrounding the cut, which damages the cellular tissue.
It’s not that it is impossible to propagate a leaf that has been crushed a little, it just decreases the chances.
I use two methods to remove a leaf for propagation:
#1 Use sharp pruning shears to remove the leaf
#2 Remove the leaf by hand by holding the leaf’s petiole at the base where it connects to the plant.
Gently push the petiole side-to-side similarly to how you wiggle a loose tooth.
After a small amount of pressure in both directions, the leaf will cleanly snap off of the plant.
#3 Plant the leaf in super well-draining mix so the petiole is buried
Now we plant the leaf into a pot of well-draining potting mix.
The mix shown below is about two-thirds perlite and one-third potting mix.
Another way is to plant the leaf in a pot with a fully grown plant who likes to be watered similarly to an African Violet.
I do this a lot because then I don’t have to add another pot for the propagation and I don’t have to figure out how often to water the leaf. Instead I water the larger plant in the pot normally and the leaf gets the moisture it needs!
I’ve propagated leaves in Anthurium pots, my Coffee tree’s pot, and more, with success.
One of my current propagations is sharing a pot with an Anthurium clarinervium propagation.
You can see the leaf I used to propagate to the right of the plantlet. The arrow is highlighting the plantlet in the photo.
#4 Water regularly when dry or nearly dry
The leaf can be watered identically to a rooted plant.
It is important to let the leaf live on the dryer side rather than sitting too wet.
The leaf will likely do fine if slightly underwatered. It will rot if overwatered, though.
#5 Check the leaf for signs of roots by tugging gently
To check whether the leaf is rooting, you can tug lightly on the leaf. If the leaf resists your tug, it is growing roots and on its way to producing a new plant!
If the leaf is easy to remove from soil or has no resistance, it just needs more time.
If the leaf is turning mushy, it is rotting and possibly being overwatered.
If the leaf is turning brown and crispy, it needs more water. It is drying up.
#6 Watch a baby plant emerge from the potting mix and grow!
It takes a lot of patience to get to this stage. It can take quite a few weeks or even months to see the little baby plant.
Once you do, though, you will know that your propagation is well on its way to being its own plant!
Now you just continue to care for it like you have been and watch the baby grow!
#7 When the baby plant is a couple of inches in diameter, it’s ready to grow on its own and the leaf used to propagate can be removed!
How do you remove the leaf used to propagate?
Sometimes you can just gently pull the leaf away from the new plant. If it isn’t easily removed by pulling, you can also snip it off using a sharp pair of pruning shears.
Or, you can leave the propagation leaf on and let it age until it’s ready to fall off.
The leaf isn’t hurting the new plantlet so there isn’t any major reason the leaf has to be removed promptly. It’s mostly removed to provide more room for the plantlet’s foliage to grow and to make the plantlet more attractive.
#8 Repot plantlet into your normal potting mix for African violets
If you used a much more well-draining potting mix to propagate your African violet, the plant can now be moved to your normal mix.
This will help it to maintain moisture just a little bit longer and have access to more nutrients in the mix as the peat moss quantity has increased.
IMPORTANT NOTE: keep plantlet in a 2 or 2.5 inch pot until it is quite rootbound and ready to be moved to a larger pot.
If it is potted in too large of a pot at first, it is much more likely to be overwatered and rot.
Professional leaf propagation tips – if you want to up your game!
There are a couple of ways that you can make leaf propagations even more successful!
#1 When you remove the African Violet leaf, use a scalpel or very share knife to cut the leaf’s petiole at a 45 degree angle.
You want the cut side to be facing up.
This is supposed to provide more surface area for plantlets to form.
#2 Cut half of the leaf blade off using a scalpel or very sharp knife
Removing part of the leaf blade is supposed to tell the mother leaf not to continue to grow, but rather to grow a plantlet instead
It’s important to use a very sharp, exacting tool like an X-Acto knife.
Are there other ways to propagate?
There are lots of other ways to propagate African Violets as well.
You can propagate a leaf in water by submerging a part of the petiole.
You can use the crown and the flower stalks to propagate as well.
Crown and flower stalk propagation is particularly important when trying to propagate chimera African violets which have stripes down the center of the flower petals.
Leaves are not guaranteed to maintain the genetic material needed to reliably produce another chimera, so other propagation methods are used.
My preferred method of propagation is the one described in this article, so I don’t have as much comfort and experience with the others, but just wanted to mention that they exist!