African Violets are a popular houseplant choice for beginners, experienced horticulturists and plant hobbyists. One reason for their popularity is that African Violets’ propagation is easy and beginner-friendly!
In this article, we’re looking at everything you need to know about the propagation of African Violets. We’re listing down the different ways you can do it, how to properly care for them, common problems you may encounter, as well as some tips and tricks to help you out.
How to Propagate African Violets
Below is a quick and easy guide on propagating African Violets at home.
Supplies and Equipment You’ll Need
The first order of business is to gather the necessary supplies and equipment.
- A host plant
- Rooting medium (Soil, potting mixes, etc.)
- Fine-tipped pruners
- Garden gloves
- Small plastic pots
- Propagator trays (optional)
- Clear plastic storage container
- Waterproof plant supports (optional)
African Violet Leaf Propagation
Using the leaf cuttings of African Violets is the most popular propagation method simply because it’s unbelievably easy. It’s often successful and doesn’t require a lot of nitty-gritty steps.
1 – Fill a Pot With Your Rooting Medium and Water
You can go about this in several ways, but the rooting medium has to be light. Most use a mixture of soil and other rooting components like perlite.
You could also use a combination of vermiculite and perlite. Some go entirely soilless, with a mixture of peat and perlite.
Another option, if you don’t mind the extra expense, is to use pre-made potting mixes created specifically for African Violets.
Aim for a moist mix by adding water and letting it drain. Avoid adding too much water because a soggy rooting medium can cause your leaf cuttings to rot.
Place your rooting medium in small plastic pots, depending on how many you want to propagate.
2 – Choose a Leaf From the Host Plant
Since you’re going to propagate from leaf cuttings, choosing a good leaf from the host plant is essential. Make sure that the leaves you choose look healthy—they should be bright deep green in color.
Before cutting, check for any leaf damage caused by insects and pests. You should avoid any leaves with yellowing, curling, or stunting.
Typically, you’d want to stay away from leaves at the center of the plant because those may need to mature more. It would be best if you chose a healthy and mature leaf to ensure success in propagation.
The large leaves on the outermost parts of the plant may look tempting since it’s guaranteed that they’re mature.
It’s better to choose leaves in the plant’s middle parts or middle layers, though. These leaves are a bit younger but mature enough to use in leaf propagation.
3 – Cut the Leaf Petiole
After you’ve chosen your leaves, cut them cleanly at the level of the petiole. The petiole is also known as the leaf stem and is the stalk that attaches the leaf to the main branch of the plant.
Use fine-tipped pruners for easier navigation and cleaner cuts of the petiole. You can use your hands if you don’t have pruners.
However, it’s crucial to cleanly cut off the leaf stems from the host plant’s crown. Leaf stems left over from an unclean cut can cause the host plant to rot.
After cutting your chosen leaf from the host plant, you can trim each of the leaf’s petioles if it’s too tall. Typically, you should aim to have it at a length of ½ inch or 1 inch.
4 – Pot up the Leaf Cuttings
Next, form a small crater in the center of your prepared rooting medium. This is where you’ll bury the petiole end of your leaf cutting.
Carefully pack the medium around the buried stem to stabilize it. You can also moisten the soil a little bit for better packing.
5 – Use Plant Supports
If you’re having trouble making the leaf cuttings stand upright, you can use plant supports. These help in keeping your leaf cuttings from drooping and collapsing into your medium.
The good news is that you don’t have to spend on plant supports! You can look for any plastic material long enough to support the height of your leaf cutting.
Bury the bottom part of the support near the leaf cutting and let the leaf blade lean against the support.
6 – Create a Mini Greenhouse
A good way to ensure the success of your African Violets propagation is to build a mini greenhouse. You can do this by placing all of the pots inside a clear plastic storage container.
Close off the container and place it in a bright area—but not in direct contact with the sun. The container will help build moisture and humidity for the leaf cuttings.
Ultimately, building a mini greenhouse lets you recreate the natural environment that African Violets grow in. This will help them root better and faster.
Can You Root an African Violet in Water?
What about other rooting mediums? Can you root an African Violet in water? The simple answer is yes, you can!
In the last section, we mentioned that you can propagate African Violets in other rooting mediums aside from soil. Rooting them in water involves fewer steps than using soil mixtures.
All you need are glass tubes or small glasses filled with water. Place the leaf cuttings stem down on the tubes.
Then, put the tubes in a warm and bright area. Give it a few weeks, and you’ll start seeing small roots, which you can then re-pot in soil.
However, if you choose this rooting medium, remember to change the water every week. Stagnant water can harbor bacterial growth as well as attract small insects or pests.
How Long Does It Take To Propagate African Violets?
How long should you expect to propagate African Violets? Well, the answer is it depends on the conditions you grow them in.
Usually, under the right conditions, it’ll take 3 to 4 weeks for new roots to grow on your petiole when you use both water and soil rooting mediums. After successful rooting, you’ll start seeing leaves sprout on your plantlets.
After around 2 to 6 months, you’ll have to re-pot your newly grown African Violet plant. The specific number of months depends on how many leaves have sprouted.
In 6 to 9 months, you should expect to see them blooming. It does take a while to grow flowers this way since you’re starting with a plantlet.
Conditions for Growth and Propagation of African Violets
After successfully rooting your African Violets in your chosen rooting medium, you’ll have to ensure that you give them the best conditions for growth.
Since it’ll take a while before you produce a full flowering African Violet, below are some of the conditions you should keep them in to take care of them.
Aside from moist environments, African Violets also love the right balance between shaded and bright areas. They produce plenty of flowers given the correct lighting conditions.
The University of Georgia’s publication on Growing African Violets provides a good reference on where to place growing African Violets.
During winter, this flowering plant receives the best light in the south or west windows. During warm seasons, on the other hand, east or north windows are optimal.
Artificial light is a convenient option as well. Cool-colored white fluorescent lights are a popular choice since they’re widely available and don’t break the bank.
African Violets love high humidity! This is why creating a mini greenhouse is an additional step in the propagation of these flowering plants.
A mini greenhouse traps water vapor in the air and provides a higher humidity compared to that of our homes. You can also opt to use a humidifier or other devices that increase humidity.
African Violets aren’t tolerant to direct sunlight because daytime temperatures above 90°F are detrimental to their growth. The foliage can get “injured,” which results in a deformed appearance.
They shouldn’t be kept at temperatures below 60°F either because the leaves will become brittle and flowers will discolor.
Don’t let the soil on the pots of your African Violets dry out, but don’t let them get soggy and rot, either. They love moisture, so keep their soil wet; when watering them, let the water soak and then drain out the pot’s bottom.
There are already fertilizers made especially for African Violets in the market. These usually contain all of the nutrients that the plant needs—which definitely makes your life easier.
However, avoid over fertilizing because it can negatively alter the soil and deter further root growth.
Common Problems With African Violets Propagation
African Violets are relatively easy to propagate, but that doesn’t mean the process is always 100% fool-proof. Below are some of the common problems you may encounter with African Violets’ propagation.
Unmet Conditions for Growth
If the conditions above aren’t met, you create an environment that isn’t conducive to the growth of African Violets. While they aren’t the most particular when it comes to their growing conditions, they won’t tolerate negligence.
Insufficient lighting, for example, affects their flowering significantly. If they don’t receive enough light, you’ll see fewer flowers, dull leaves, and weak petioles.
Insects and Pests
Unfortunately, African Violets are also susceptible to insects and pests like aphids—one of the most common pests of plants.
Aphids have short lifespans, but they reproduce and multiply rapidly. While one aphid may not do much damage, a whole bunch of them can weaken the plant and wilt flowers.
Fortunately, a quick, easy, and harmless solution is to check for the presence of aphids and then use soapy water to remove them. This does, however, require regular checking since aphids can make their way back into the plants.
African Violets are ornamental flowering houseplants that are popular with newbies and experienced green thumbs. They’re charming and easy to propagate and grow.
Using leaf cuttings is the most common method of African Violets propagation. It’s as simple as selecting a healthy and mature leaf, cutting at the petiole, and placing it in a pot.
However, the process doesn’t end there. To see it through to the end, you’ve got to create the right conditions to nurture the plant and promote growth.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.