Monday, February 26, 2024

Getting most plantlets from leaf cuttings

Question:  How can I maximize the number of babies that I get from a single leaf?  Sometimes I have only one to spare.

Answer:  This is a problem most of us in this hobby don’t have.  It was years before we realized that we didn’t need to root every leaf ever removed from our violets.  Not to mention that we didn’t have the space to grow all of the resulting plantlets!  Sometimes, though, you have only one to spare–say, one purchased at a show, from a special plant.

Fortunately, African violets are very easy to propagate, in a variety of ways, from leaf.  Here’s what we do.  If the leaf is large enough, cut away all of the leaf blade, leaving a “dime-sized” portion still attached to the petiole (stem).  Cut the petiole at an angle (cut-side facing up) at a length of perhaps 1/2″, and root as you normally would, using a very light and porous rooting medium.  The more surface area exposed by the cut, the greater number of plantlets you are likely to get.  The trade-off is that the rooted leaf may be more difficult to root and produce less vigorous plantlets, since a greater number will be competing for the same space and nutrients.

The section of the leaf blade that was removed can also be rooted.  Remove the center vein.  Take the resulting sections and firmly place the, center-side down, into your rooting medium.  These leaf “wedges” will also produce plantlets (though more slowly).  If the leaf blade is large enough, a number of small wedges can be made.  Lastly, if plantlets are carefully removed from the rooted leaf, it can be used a second time.

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