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Leaf Propagation

by Nancy Robitaille & Alana Cunningham
Choosing a Leaf for Propagation: 
Always take a leaf from the second or third row of leaves when propagating African violets. Why? The center leaves are too young and immature and beyond the third row of leaves, the leaves become weak and may not produce babies. Leaves from the second row, possibly the third row are mature, vigorous, and more likely to produce healthy babies in less time.

Preparing a Leaf:
Take the leaf, cut with sharp knife at a 45 degree angle. This cut allows more of the stem to be in contact with the soil and will produce more babies.

Preparing a Leaf without a Stem:
If you receive a leaf that has the stem broken off, you can still plant it by cutting a new stem for it.  Cut a "V" shape from each outside edge towards the mid rib of the leaf.  Then cut down on either side of the mid rib and you will have formed a new stem.  Let the cuts dry for a few minutes and then plant as usual.

Planting the Leaf:
Prepare a 2 ½ inch pot or other small container. Place good African violet soil less mix in it. Water the mix. With a pencil, make a hole then place the leaf stem in the mix. Sometimes leaves grow roots then start to grow larger themselves rather than making babies. In order to keep them from doing this you can cut the top part off the leaf. Plant the leaf at an angle. A name tag may be placed inside the pot to record information.
Or you may write any information you wish to keep on tape or directly on container. Include plant's name, hybridizer, date of planting and any other information.

Water Propagation
Many growers prefer to plant leaves in soil as they believe that roots produced in water disintegrate when they touch soil and new roots must be produced.  This makes it faster to just start the leaf in the soil.  However, others find this method to be the most successful for them.
Take a glass or cup of lukewarm water.  Place aluminum foil over this.  You may place a rubber band around it to hold it securely.  Pierce holes with scissors or pencil.  Insert the leaf and wait until you see babies forming before bringing it out.
You may replace water by running more into the glass and allowing the old water to flow out.  When babies are seen, take the leaf out.  Plant the leaf's roots in special African Violet soil-less mix, making sure that the babies are on top of the potting mix.
Soon the babies will be making roots of their own and they can be separated when their leaves are as large as your little fingernail, or you can leave them until they are big enough that you feel comfortable handling them.   Make sure the center leaves of the babies are well developed before separating or the plantlet may not survive.
Photos by Nancy
Preparing new stem diagram by Alana
Page design & editing by Alana - Sep/2004