If you’re looking for an eye-catching houseplant that blooms almost continuously look no further than the African violet. Today’s modern hybrids are available in a dazzling array of colors. Even their thick, velvety leaves are attractive and come in a wide variety of shapes, colors and patterns. And if space is a concern you can even find them in six different sizes, from micro (less than three inches across) to giant (over 12-16 inches across).
African Violet Propagation is Easy
Aside from their beauty, perhaps the best thing about African violets is how easy they are to propagate. Plants can range in price from just a few dollars, or they can become quite expensive, depending on their rarity. But if you know someone willing to part with a leaf from their adult African violet you can start your own plant for free!
Some people root African violets in water, with or without liquid fertilizer. But, the consensus among African violet fanciers is that you will have stronger, healthier plants if you root them in a potting medium. The following steps will walk you through the latter method.
Steps for Taking African Violet Cuttings
1. If you’re removing the leaf from the African violet parent plant, select one from the middle row of leaves since these are at the right stage of maturity. Leaves from the bottom row will be too old and tough, and the top row won’t be mature, yet.
2. Cut it off as close to the base of the leaf stem as possible using a pair of sharp, sterile scissors. The stem should be 1 to 1.5 inches long. If it’s too long, trim it to the correct size with a sharp knife.
3. Lay the leaf on a table, fuzzy side up. Using your knife, cut the final inch of the leaf stem at a 45-degree angle.
4. The resulting cut should be facing up, like the fuzzy side of the leaf. The new baby violet leaves will grow from this cut.
Propagate African Violets from Leaf Cuttings
1. Fill a small pot that has a drainage hole with African violet potting mix, not soil. If the pot doesn’t have a hole, you can simply drill one in the base.
African violet potting mixes are light and fluffy. They generally include some combination of the following: peat, coarse vermiculite and pearlite.
2. Moisten the soil with room-temperature water and use a pencil to make a 1-inch-deep narrow hole near the edge of the pot at a 45-degree angle. Insert the African violet stem into the hole with the angled cut facing upwards.
3. Rest the leaf, fuzzy side up, on the edge of the pot and cover the hole lightly with your potting medium.
Pat the growing medium down gently to hold the plant in place. If you have more than one leaf, you can plant them in the same pot.
Tip: Plant each African violet variety in a different pot so you can identify them later. Label each with its name or color.
4. Place the pot on its saucer and place them both in a clear plastic bag, which will serve as a mini greenhouse. This is a popular technique for propagating a wide variety of houseplants.
Tip: Use a couple of wooden kabob sticks to help prop the leaf cutting and ensure that the plastic doesn’t rest on the leaf.
5. Inflate the bag by blowing into it and secure the top with a twist tie.
The bag will not drape over the leaves and it will provide carbon dioxide, which is good for plants.
Check the bag daily to ensure there is no condensation, which will rot the leaves. If you see condensation, open the bag to let it air out for a while before resealing.
6. Place the bagged plant in a window with bright indirect light. When tiny leaves begin to appear (six to eight weeks), remove the plant from the bag.
7. Water the plant only when the top inch of soil is dry by adding room-temperature water to the pot’s saucer. The growing medium will absorb water through the pot’s drainage hole.
Allow the pot to sit in the water-filled saucer for 20 minutes or so until the top of the soil is moist, not soggy. Drain the remaining water from the saucer.
Potting African Violet Plants
When the baby African violet plant is four or five months old, it will be large enough for you to transplant.
If you planted multiple leaves in the same pot, separate them carefully before planting them in their pots.
Pot guidelines for the most popular African violet sizes:
Mini and semi-mini African violet plants ― 2 to 2.5 inches
Standard African violet plants ― 4 inches
When Will African Violets Begin Blooming?
Your African violet should bloom for the first time when it’s six to nine months old. To enjoy continuous blooms ensure your plants have plenty of indirect sunlight, a warm place and continue to water from below.
For more information on how to care for your new African violet babies see our article, Care Tips for African Violets.
Congratulations! You have successfully grown an African violet plant from a leaf! Now that you know how you can grow new babies from your plants whenever you like. You can keep the babies or share them with friends and family, who will think that you have the greenest of thumbs. They never need to know how easy it was.