Question: I’ve heard that it’s difficult to propagate a variegated leaf if it is mostly white. Is there anything that can be done to help or encourage the leaf to propagate more easily?
Answer: Heavily variegated leaves can often be more difficult to successfully propagate, though some varieties are prolific propagators. The best advice is to first select leaves from these plants that show as little variegation as possible–i.e. are the most green. A variegated variety will produce variegated plants from leaf cuttings, even if the leaf rooted is green. We’ve also found that it helps not to keep the rooting mix too wet. Heavily variegated plantlets are much more susceptible to rotting than are green-leaved ones. The plantlets produced will also be sturdier, and more likely to survive their initial separation and potting. Don’t pot up plantlets that are entirely white, since they won’t survive–wait for them the green-up a bit. It also helps to fertilize with a formula that has sufficient nitrogen, particularly when plantlets are young and/or heavily variegated. Warm, but not hot, conditions will also encourage the young plantlets to grow “greener”.