Thomas J. Story
Fill pots with propagating mix.
Create a mini-greenhouse by inverting a plastic cup over the leaf.
Some fleshy-leafed house plants can be propagated quickly and easily from leaf cuttings--one of the best methods for ensuring identical new plants. Try this technique to expand your collection of African violets, Cape primroses, gloxinias, peperomias, some begonia species, and many succulents.
Leaf cuttings take at least six weeks to form new leaves, depending on conditions and the season (growth is faster in spring and summer).
TIME: A few minutes per pot
COST: 50 to 75 cents per pot
TOOLS AND MATERIALS
• 3- to 4-inch-diameter pots
• Propagating mix
• Pruning shears or sharp scissors
• A mother plant (those listed above are easy choices)
• Rooting hormone (optional)
• Propagation heat mat (optional)
• Small plastic cup
1. Fill pots with propagating mix; firm the soil. Water well.
2. Using shears, cut leaves with stems from the mother plant (remove no more than about 10 percent of the foliage), snipping as close to the bases of the leaf stalks as possible. Select only healthy, fully grown leaves. Trim the stems to 1 to 1 ½ inches long.
3. With the pencil, poke 1½-inch holes in the soil just off-center.
4. Dip the stems in rooting hormone --knock off excess if it's the powdered kind.
5. Insert one-half to two-thirds of the stems into the soil, with the leaf tips pointing away from the pots' center. Gently firm the mix around the stems.
6. To speed up rooting and new growth, set the pots on a heating mat in bright, indirect light. Create a mini-greenhouse by inverting a plastic cup over the leaf as pictured. Be sure to keep the soil moist.
7. When new leaves form, fertilize with a dilute solution of fertilizer.
8. When leaves cover most of the soil surface, move young plants into larger pots. African violets usually produce a cluster of new plantlets; gently tease them apart and repot into separate containers.