Growing African violets – botanically Saintpaulia ionantha is very simple. Their care is pretty easy and they propagate readily through division or leaf cuttings. However, propagation by leaf cuttings is probably the most popular.
Propagating From Leaf Cuttings
The two most practical methods for rooting divisions or leaf cuttings is by placing the African violet plants in either soil or water as both methods are practical.
Rooting An African Violet In Water
When selecting a leaf cutting, choose middle-sized leaves, cut them with about an inch of leaf stem (called the petiole).
Make sure to watch the below video on how to grow African violets through leaf cuttings.
To give the leaves the best conditions, prepare a clear glass, a transparent plastic jar or plastic pots with a top that’s wider than its bottom part.
This will allow you to easily monitor the water and roots.
If you doubt the cleanliness of the water, boil it for three minutes and let it cool down before using.
Warm water and cold water will harm the young roots.
Cover a water-filled glass tumbler or mason jar with wax paper held in place with a rubber band.
Pierce the paper in three places. Insert the leaf stems in these holes and deeply enough for the stems to reach into the water.
Set glass or jar where the leaf-cutting receives about the same light your growing plants do – indirect light or sunny window. I root and grow under florescent grow lights.
Speed the rooting process by dusting the cut end in rooting hormone powder.
If you use faucet rather than rain water, let it stand uncovered for twenty-four hours beforehand so that all chlorine may be released.
In two to four weeks, depending on variety and location, roots should appear at the ends of the stems. Change the water then.
By the end of another week or so small green leaves may appear at the base of each parent leaf.
If the parent leaves began to deteriorate, you can now make a transfer of rooted leaves by potting into 2-inch pots of light soil or pure sand with drainage holes.
If the parent leaves remain firm and healthy, wait until a cluster of leaves about one inch long appears before transplanting.
Transplant cuttings into solid media (moistened vermiculite or 50% bagged African violet plant soil mix – 50% perlite) when the leaves of plantlets unfold and the pot plants are about an inch high.
A two inches small pot soil is right for this first shift.
Place transparent plastic bags (or use plastic bottles) over the new plants to ward off shock. These can be removed within a week.
After six weeks of growing, the plants can then be shifted into three-inch pots and given regular African violet care.
You can let them flower in these pots, and as they mature, move them into four-inch pots.
Transferring from Water To Soil…
To make the transfer from water to soil with the least possible danger and best possible results to the developing plants, try this suggested system:
Use a small butter tub cup containing a small amount of water.
Place the rooted leaf in the vessel, spreading the roots.
Sift fine soil (moist not wet) around them until all the water has been absorbed.
Then both the soil and leaf may be lifted out with the aid of a spoon.
Expect some little setback from watering to soil transfer while roots are adjusting to the new medium.
Propagation time varies. The leaves of some varieties root very quickly, while other varieties certainly take their time.
No leaves can be depended upon to produce roots quickly as long as the parent leaf or mother remains healthy and does not soften and decay, the growth of roots and new leaves will eventually occur.
Sometimes it actually takes months before you see the leaves sprouting from the small plant.
When quite a cluster of new leaves appears, cut the parent leaves away.
Remove the parent leaf sooner if it shows signs of deterioration but often it is not necessary to discard it for a long time.
If a variety is scarce or your supply limited, you may be able to grow a second or even a third crop of saintpaulias from the same treasured leaf.
Each time you will, of course, be working with a shorter, sharply cut petiole until a third planting is made perhaps with no petiole at all and only the leaf base to insert in the soil.
Even so, you can expect success as many have found from experience that the same leaf will produce as fine a third crop as it did a first.
In less than five months, however, you will have well-established plants which should in less than a year produce flowers.
Video on Propagating Leaf Cuttings
Rooting Leaves in Soil
Propagating leaf cuttings in water is one way to increase your collection.
Another method enthusiasts use is to start their leaf cuttings or plant divisions directly in soil – in either pots or trays.
They use jars, pots, terrariums, aquariums and even plastic soda bottles which help make an excellent makeshift greenhouse for propagating.
Using a potting soil media of moistened vermiculite or 50% bagged African violet soil potting mix – 50% perlite insert the leaves just deep enough for them to escape the soil surface.
If the leaves rest on it, rot often starts. Firm the soil mixture well around each stem
Set the “mini greenhouse” away from direct sunlight. Over the top cover with a piece of cellophane secured by a rubber band. Little attention will now be needed for several weeks.
The first few days after planting inspect the soil to be sure you moistened it well enough at the start for it to stay damp. If moisture collects on the sides of the glass, remove the cover long enough to wipe away the excess and reduce some humidity.
In room temperature and not so sunny place such attention will hardly be necessary.
In four to six weeks the rooted leaves will be at the new-plant stage and ready for potting separately.
More on How To Take Care Of An African Violet
Video on Separating African Violet Leaf Cuttings
Variation – Starting Plants Grown In A Pot-in-Pan Method
Then there is the pot-in-pan method. Use moist sand, sand and peat moss, moistened vermiculite or 50% bagged African violet soil mix – 50% perlite for a rooting mixture
Fill a large porous bulb pan with this and into the center insert a small stoppered clay flowerpot.
Keep the small center pot filled with water. The amount of water will decrease because of slow seepage through the walls of the inner pot
This seepage provides the surrounding soil area with adequate and even moisture
Insert the leaf stems in the soiAl at a slight angle, the upper surfaces to the front
In two to four weeks roots will form and in the course of another month new sprouts will push up to the surface
In three months’ time, well-developed plants will form and be ready for separate potting.
Any one of these methods – water glass, aquarium, pot-in-pan – or your own variation of them, will start a violet plants collection for you or increase the valued number already in hand.
Some use Rootone to advantage and with it developed flowering plants in a four-months period. Others report that root-growing substances with rooting their African violets (Saintpaulias).
In any case, rooting and flowering of African violets seem to be hastened by a spring rather than an autumn start.
Some amateurs, in deed, have reported late September flowering from early May propagating.
Perhaps the former idea that leaf-to-blossom took a year was based on autumn and winter propagating.
Even so, flowering in less than eight months is fairly unusual.
Propagating By Division
With a little time and experimenting, you’ll soon be a pro at propagating African violets and expanding your “blooming” collection.