Monday, April 15, 2024

African violets: Propagation by leaf

African violets are very easily propagated from leaf.  Even inexperienced growers can quickly produce additional plants and expand their collection.

African violet propagation

 Step 1:  Remove and trim leaf.  Remove a fresh leaf from the plant that you wish to propagate.  It’s best to use a mature leaf, but not one that’s old and tough.  Using a sharp knife or razor, trim away the top of the leaf blade.  This isn’t a necessary step, but it will encourage faster production of roots and plantlets from the leaf when it’s rooted, and will stop the leaf itself from growing.

African violet leaf

Step 2:  Cut leaf petiole.  See photo at right. Cut the petiole (i.e. leaf stem) at a 45 degree angle, cut-side facing up, to about 1/2″ in length.  By cutting at an angle, this will encourage more root and plantlet production, and they will more likely appear in front of the rooted leaf, rather than hidden behind or underneath it.

African violet plantlet

Step 3:  Root the leaf cutting.  See photo at left. Fill a small pot with your rooting medium.  This mix should be very light and porous.  Our rooting mix is 1 part Pro-Mix (a soil-less peat an perlite mix) and 3 parts coarse vermiculite.  Any mix at least this light is acceptable (some growers use only vermiculite or mix with perlite).  The mix should be moistened (not too soggy, or the leaf will rot).  Make a narrow hole in the mix–we like to use a “swizzle stick” for doing this.  Push the leaf petiole into this hole, up to the bottom of the leaf blade (as shown), and firm-in rooting mix around it.  More than one leaf cutting may be rooted into a single pot, if there’s room.  Label the pot and place it into a clear, covered container or plastic baggie.  Then, place this in a bright place with moderate temperature–no direct sun or very warm locations, since this may cause the leaf cutting to rot or burn.

AFrican violet plantlets

Step 4:  Plantlets at 12 weeks.  One or more plantlets will begin to develop from the cut end of the rooted leaf’s petiole, and will make their way above the soil.  Those pictured are ready to be separated and planted now, but we usually wait 4-5 months, since the extra time allows more plantlets to grow from the cutting.  The plantlets also will be just a bit bigger, easier to handle, and more likely to survive their transplanting.

African violet plantlets

Step 5:  Separate plantlets from leaf cutting.  See photo at right. When plantlets are large enough for you to comfortably handle them, they can be separated from the “mother” leaf.  Remove the cutting from its pot, firmly grasp a plantlet, and gently pull it away from the leaf cutting.  If your rooting mix is light, and not overly soggy, this should be easily done without need for a knife.  Don’t worry too much if your plantlet doesn’t have many (or even any) roots–so long as the plantlet itself is healthy, it will produce roots when it is potted.

African violet plantlet

Step 6:  Prepare pot for plantlet.  See photo at left. Fill a small pot (2″ or 2 1/4″) with your regular soil mix.  Make a small hole deep enough to hold the plantlet to be potted–we like to use an old pencil to do this.

African violet plantlet

Step 7:  Pot plantlet.  See photo at right.Gently push plantlet into hole and firm-in soil around it.  Plantlet should be placed deep enough into soil so that none of the bare central stem or ‘trunk’ is exposed, but not so deep as to bury the tiny growing point in the center of the plant.

African violet plantlet

Step 8:  You’re done!  Label the plant and lightly water.  Larger plantlets can be immediately placed amongst your other violets.  If the plantlet is still very small and/or has few roots, you might want to place it into a clear, covered container or plastic baggie.  This will provide a small “terrarium”-like environment, and will protect it while it gets established.  Remove it from this container in a few weeks.


  • BarbaraJune 16, 2022 9:22 amCan they be rooted in a perlite/ leca mix. I have successfully grown AV in Leca but never grown from a leaf. Thank you.Reply
  • Laura IriarteOctober 4, 2021 1:05 pmWhat is a good temperature range for African violets? Could I keep them on a covered porch? I used to be able to grow them beautifully in my back bathroom – but my new cat eats the flowers!!! I live in zone 9b. Thanks in advance! LauraReply
    • Violet BarnOctober 6, 2021 10:02 amMinimum temperature about 60f degrees. Ideally, 65-75f–if you are comfortable, so are your violets. Some species will tolerate colder temps, but these are the exceptions. Most violets may survive at a bit cooler temps, but they won’t be at all happy and will show the effects. For this reason we consider them to be houseplants. In addition, exposure to the elements simply makes them more difficult to care for and less attractive.
  • Oksana P.August 18, 2020 12:17 amHello, my plantelets are staying the same size for 12months now . They look like your plantelets at 12 weeks, . They are next to my adult African violets , which are doing fine. Is there anything that can be done to speed up the growth ? They are in 2 inch starter pots in very light soil. I did use a much older leaf (because that’s all I’ve had of my original AV that my cats knocked over). It seems that did make the process just to get the babies slower (6 months to see the first baby, 12 weeks to get to the size I see on your pictures, and now sitting at the same size for 12 months)Reply
    • Violet BarnAugust 18, 2020 11:26 amPropagating from an older leaf will mean waiting longer for babies, but once these are potted up, they should grow as well as any other plant. From the information you provided, can’t give you a good answer. Even, consistent, watering habits are probably the most important for younger plantlets, as well as good light and environment. They will need much the same care as your more mature plants but, given they are smaller and less established, it is more important that care is even and consistent–they will be less forgiving of fluctuations in care or neglect.
  • JanetJanuary 22, 2020 8:08 amHi! Thanks so much for this info. I was wondering if when you mention Pro-Mix you are referring to the basic potting mix, or the Pro-Mix specifically for African Violets?Is this the product you use? Thanks
    • Violet BarnJanuary 23, 2020 9:17 amThe are many different formulations of Pro-Mix. We use the “HP” or “BX” formulations. Basically, it is just a quality peat-based mix that we can buy in large quantities to use as a base for our own mix. The one you mention is must one of these formulations (that I’m unfamiliar with).
  • GGJanuary 16, 2020 2:46 pmHi,Several months ago I tried to propagate my grandmother’s African violet by putting a healthy leaf (with some root powder) in a pot and covering it with a plastic sandwich bag. It’s been at least three months, probably longer. The leaf itself is still alive and has looked healthy, although it’s starting to curve back a bit. So I assume it must have grown roots by now. But so far, I’m not seeing any new plantlet growth. Any idea what went wrong, or if there’s something I should do? Should I remove the bag, at this point, or leave it? Is there anyway to stimulate new plantlets?Thanks a lot.Reply
    • Violet BarnJanuary 17, 2020 10:05 amNothing may be wrong. How long a leaf takes to produce plantlets will depend upon many things. Fresher, younger and more tender (but mature) leaves will root best and produce plantlets faster. Usually, people use the oldest leaves that would otherwise be discarded–these are will be the hardest to use. Be patient, eventually you will see plantlets.
  • Sharon FievzDecember 16, 2019 12:07 amI have a plant that was growing out of a small cocoa fiber rooting cone planted in a pot with potting soil. The plant got big and I repotted it. I did not remove the old fiber cone from the stem and it was buried in the new pot still on the stem. The stem rotted at the point where it entered the fiber cone.What is the best way to get this plant to reroot?Thank youReply
    • Violet BarnDecember 17, 2019 4:20 pmSee our lesson on “restarting an African violet”. It sounds like you need to reroot the crown.
  • Kim BNovember 22, 2019 5:15 pmHow often do you have to water a leaf that is rooting in a soil-less compound?Reply
    • Violet BarnNovember 25, 2019 10:36 amDepends upon how quickly it dries. Rule for watering is always when surface is “dry to the touch”. We cover our leaves (enclose in clear plastic container or bag), so watering isn’t an issue.
  • celloNovember 18, 2019 10:14 pmi wanted to start having an african violet but my country when 2pm (the hottest hour) is almost 100″F / 38°c do you think african violet will survive here?Reply
    • Violet BarnNovember 25, 2019 10:41 amIf this is the temperature where the violet actually is (if grown indoors and not outside), and happens frequently, then no. An African violet will survive the occasional day when it is that warm, though it won’t be happy.
  • kayla zajacNovember 7, 2019 9:00 pmHello I’m in desperate need of help. One of my foster dogs knocked my Africa violet out of the window and shredded it. I have the main stem with connected roots but no leaves and multiple whole mature leaves in a bowl of water. Is there anything I can do to revive even apart of this plant. I found it very fast after it happened. It was a gift from a friend of mine that moved far away so it is very important to me.Reply
    • Violet BarnNovember 8, 2019 4:38 pmIf you’ve lost the center/growing point of the plant, your best bet is rooting the leaves.
  • Tim GriffithsOctober 16, 2019 8:12 amHiI’ve managed to make new plantlets easily and they gave flowered, but they have produced bland white flowers, not the attractive purple and white of the original. Any Ideas?Puzzled as I’d thought the genetic information would have been identical.Reply
    • Violet BarnOctober 21, 2019 2:31 pmThere is always some small amount of variation, and will vary more with multicolors. Environment and care will play a big part as well.
  • GeorgetteAugust 26, 2019 6:45 pmHi I have always rooted in water, (small glass with plastic wrap on top in sunny window) roots grow great just don’t know when to put in potReply
    • JuneApril 14, 2021 9:57 pmI have the same question. I had a leaf break off with 3 inch stem. I put it in water and it has rooted! Where will the baby form? Thanks.
    • Violet BarnApril 16, 2021 1:47 pmIt should appear on or near the cut.
  • John BAugust 19, 2019 10:52 pmI successfully rooted leaves nearly a year ago. They are very healthy, but have not yet produced plantlets. Any ideas?Reply
    • Violet BarnAugust 23, 2019 10:38 amThey should have produced plantlets by now. If leaves were very old, rooted too deeply, in too firm a mix, or in extreme conditions (too wet/dry, hot/cold, etc), this can reduce the success rate and time.
  • Penny ReaganAugust 10, 2019 9:07 amHow long after you get babies will it take for them to bloom? I have a about 20 , some are about 3 months old, nothing yet.Reply
    • Violet BarnAugust 19, 2019 4:37 pmDepends upon variety, care, and environment. We usually will be blooms within 3-6 months of first potting them.
  • Deborah WardenAugust 2, 2019 8:16 amI started mine in a seedling tray with commercially available planting disks that expand with water. It comes with a clear plastic cover that preserves the humidity. It’s been 5 weeks, and 5 of the 8 cuttings have leaves. The cuttings are going into 2-3 inch pots this weekend. Thanks for the advice.Reply
  • Lisa HillJuly 10, 2019 4:11 amI’ve been given two mature leaves which have already been potted in a terracotta pot to propagate. They’ve been in this pot for at least 12 weeks and look healthy. My question is should I leave them alone and hope they grow roots as is or should I plant them in a small plastic container. I’ve put a clear plastic bag over them as recommended. Thank you.Reply
    • Violet BarnJuly 19, 2019 8:46 amNothing wrong with terracotta pots–what everyone used before we had plastic. It is easier in plastic though, since the soil can be kept more evenly moist, which is important when rooting leaves or cuttings, which have small (or no) root systems. The baggie will help, since it will keep soil and pot from drying too quickly.
  • Janet MurphyJune 28, 2019 3:02 amHi! I need some advice. I did not know that you should not use rooting powder when putting baby plantlets in new pots. The baby is still alive after 4 weeks so should I try to wash off the powder and repot ? I wish that I had found your sight earlier. I have learned a lot! Also the mother violet leaf is white and green variegated. Thanks !Reply
    • Violet BarnJune 29, 2019 11:27 amLeave as it is. Apparently, there was no harm done. Rooting powder, though not necessary, is not always harmful for violet cuttings.
  • JenniferJune 4, 2019 9:49 amHello, I love you advice and am about to try to propagate my plants. Should I put the newly potted leaves in a greenhouse instead of a plastic box/bag? Will baby bio be ok to feed? I’d like my plants to remain small as I’ve bought some miniature clay pots? Will it be hard to keep them small? Thanks so much. Kind regards JenniferReply
    • Violet BarnJune 12, 2019 11:59 amYou can. They will stay small only if they are miniature varieties. We prefer plastic pots, especially for minis, but clay is fine–you’ll just find yourself watering more frequently to keep the tiny root systems moist. We are not familiar with “baby bio” so cannot knowledgeably comment on it.
  • HarmonyMay 24, 2019 8:27 pmHello, Your site has been very helpful, thank you. Six and a half weeks ago I followed your directions for propagation with a small African violet that I love (I think it is a saintpaulia chantabent from the descriptions I have read).
    I had my first tiny leaf peak up from the soil yesterday and am so excited. My question is, when do I take off the plastic baggie? I plan to let them grow for the 4-5 months that you suggest before re-potting.
    Thank you again.Reply
    • Violet BarnMay 28, 2019 3:01 pmYou can remove the baggie once you know cuttings are rooted and plantlets begin to appear. Repot when they are large enough for you to confidently handle.
  • Amy DardisMay 17, 2019 4:24 pmI have 1 question. Right now I have a medium sized av, but hasn’t flowered for at least 2 years. The plant is healthy, and I recently propogated 2 leaves from it. What am doing wrong? ( I’d hate to think I can only raise baldies! Thanks for your time!!Reply
    • Violet BarnMay 20, 2019 4:06 pmIf a plant is growing and healthy, but not blooming, provide it with more light.
    • Beverly FerrisMay 26, 2019 8:52 pmDo you feed it. I use Schultz liquid violet food. I use 10 drops per quart (I have a 1/2 gal milk jug that I marked off at the 4 cup line and the 8 cup line). This way I can keep food prepared all the time
    • Violet BarnMay 28, 2019 2:58 pmYes. We fertilize each time we water.
    • Ben KeyserSeptember 16, 2019 12:57 amMorning. Similar situation – plant from a cutting still not blooming after about 18 months. Light? Don’t think so since the 2 pots on the same tray have not stopped blooming for the past 8 months! Same water, same feeding, same light?
  • AspenMay 14, 2019 11:49 amI got some leaves in the mail to propagate, I have some in a soil-less mix and others in water. The ones in water are starting to go limp, should I cut the edge again and try in soil or should I just leave them in the water? Its been about a week since I’ve gotten them.Reply
    • Violet BarnMay 14, 2019 10:52 pmWe prefer to root directly in a very light potting mix, and keeping under cover in clear container or baggie. This keeps them from drying out or wilting. Much will depend upon the freshness of the leaves you received to begin with, as well as the environment you are growing them in.
  • Diana KApril 18, 2019 12:49 amThank you for your help with these sweet beauties.
    Can a stem only be rooted, a stem with no leaf?
    Just wondering if that’s possible? AV seem to be very easy to root!
    Thanks for your advice/Reply
    • Violet BarnApril 20, 2019 2:57 pmThis likely wouldn’t be successful. You can root the leaf blade without the petiole, however.
  • CarlaMarch 21, 2019 11:55 amHi!I have a mature AV plant with a very long stem. The plant is beginning to die. Following your directions I’ve put 6 leaves in 2 pots. But how do I get this stem shorter. It was growing sideways out of the pot. Can I cut the stem?Reply
  • GaborMarch 6, 2019 2:13 amThank you for this informative description. I have ended up with loads of plants, having propagated them this way. In the process of potting them up, I must have used a nitrogen rich compost (bought houseplant compost in the UK) as I have masses of leaves but no flowers. I think I’ll start again and see what happens.Reply
    • Violet BarnMarch 10, 2019 10:46 amThough the mix may play a minor role, lack of blooms is more likely result of lack of adequate light.
  • Nikki PytelMarch 2, 2019 11:06 amI’ve cut leaves and placed them in a glass of water – stems in the water. This was about 4 weeks ago. The leaves look great but I don’t see any small plants yet at the base of the stems. My mom used to do this all the time and had great results. How long does this process take? I was very young when my mom did this and I wasn’t paying attention to time back then. Thank you!Reply
    • Violet BarnMarch 3, 2019 9:52 amIt can take more than 4 weeks. We prefer rooting in a soil mix.
    • Cathy SlavinApril 14, 2019 2:54 pmI started mine in water, then after small root hairs appeared, placed them in soil, then followed the same process as shown here….
  • Patricia BrownFebruary 11, 2019 10:47 amI have rooted African violets successfully in water and soil, but I have never put them in a ziplock bag. I’m trying that this time. Once I close the ziplock bag do I open it at all? If I do open it, how often?Reply
  • Maria Carmen MunozJanuary 30, 2019 1:35 pmI grew my first two plantets from two leaves. I think I made an error because I planted both in the same pot. They are growing beautifully but the leaves are too crowded. Do I need to separate them? How do I do that when they are growing interlaced? Thanks!Reply
    • Violet BarnFebruary 2, 2019 10:02 amThey should separated and put into their own pots. Neither should need more than a few rows of leaves (12-15), so remove older, lower leaves beyond this number.
  • Helen CapJanuary 21, 2019 9:30 pmHello Violet Barn,
    I found your site and enjoy your helpful lessons on Violet care. I have several plantlets that I started with your instruction. They have made it into their own pots and are growing beautifully, I am waiting patiently for blooms! Thank You so much for sharing your expertise.I wanted to share how I have eliminated mealy bugs. I use rubbing alcohol on a Q-tip and dab the little buggers. You need to be diligent about this everyday until they are eradicated. Also, be sure to quarantine the infected plant.
    Good Luck!Reply
  • DudeLoveAVNovember 26, 2018 12:25 pmplantlets at 12 weeks? That’s way too long. Mine only takes 6-7 weeks from various types.Reply
    • Violet BarnNovember 27, 2018 10:53 amYes, it can be much faster, but often much slower–all depends upon leaf used and environment. 12 weeks is just a reasonable expectation.
  • GiovannaNovember 9, 2018 4:11 pmHello, I have yet two little plants from a “mother leaf”. As They are still only 3 almost 4 months, I hadn’t split them yet, but I transplanted them into a bigger pot, doing it I accidentally broke the “mother leaf”! will they die? May I do something to help them continue growing without their mother? Can I plant the mother leaf again?Reply
    • Violet BarnNovember 11, 2018 12:23 pmOnce the plantlets appear, you won’t need the “mother” leaf. They should be fine. You can reroot the mother leaf, though these leaves typically aren’t nearly as productive in producing plantlets quickly the second time around. Fresh, tender, leaves are always better to propagate with.
  • Sandra G HertzerNovember 1, 2018 1:12 pmI started my AV from two leaves in water. When roots started showing up, I planted them both in a pot and they grew beautifully. It still looks great, the leaves green and healthy, but no flowers are coming. It has been about 3 months since I planted them. When should flowers start showing up?Reply
    • Violet BarnNovember 3, 2018 12:37 pmOn some varieties, blooms can appear this quickly but, on others, you may have to wait longer. All depends upon the variety and your environment and care. Goot loight is most important for a mature plant to bloom.
  • AshleyOctober 24, 2018 10:01 pmI’m looking to possibly buy leaf cuttings in the near future. Is it better to have a fresh cut stem when setting them up, or can I place the leaves with the original cut from the seller straight into soil?Reply
  • Liza CardozoOctober 20, 2018 8:10 amHi,
    I have just viewed a Russian pintrest site on african violet leaf propogation. The photos show a mother leaf with small slits starting from the petiole going up to the middl-ise of the mother leaf. What are your ideas on this method of propogation? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.Reply
    • Violet BarnOctober 20, 2018 3:58 pmWe’ve seen this done, and have experimented with it in distant past, and it can work. The idea is that more cuts means more exposed petiole from which to produce plantlets. This is true, but we’ve found that more (or larger) cuts increases the chance of losing the rooted leaf before it sprouts–it needs to be carefully an precisely done, with a suitable leaf. Also, simply, it simply takes us more time to do this than it’s worth–the extra plantlet or two isn’t worth the effort (as a commercial producer, it’s about efficiency).
  • SteeleSeptember 29, 2018 10:55 amI just repotted my first African violet, so exciting! I stuck all the trimmed leaves in a pot base with some AV soil. Will that do for now or should I separate them all?Reply
    • L011iP0POctober 2, 2018 4:02 pmNot sure of the question. Mostly wait, since it will take a little while for the leaves to produce plantlets.
  • AshleySeptember 6, 2018 2:17 pmI have a bunch of young African Violets that I propagated that are doing great and are on display in my bay window. They are on shelves that suction to the window, so they are next to the glass. I’m worrying (as Winter is Coming) that they may get too cold in zone 6. What is best to do with them in the colder months? The window is east facing, but gets dappled light from tree cover even in the am. I don’t have any other windows that get much sun.Reply
    • Violet BarnSeptember 9, 2018 6:23 pmSince I’m unfamiliar with your windows and your climate, can’t say for sure. Violets will survive into the lower 50s, but will stop actively growing once the temperatures approach 60f, and will suffer below that.
  • Dorlis L GroteSeptember 3, 2018 5:23 pmi HAVE BEEN able to .root leaves, but have a problem with mealybugs at leaf axils. they seem to attract mealies. what can I do to get rid of mealies and why do they seem to come from nowhere?Reply
    • Violet BarnSeptember 9, 2018 6:27 pmBest solution to rid yourself of mealies is to discard the infected material/plant. If you must root leaves from an infected plant, would advise washing leaves in dish soap and water, then segregating plantlets produced even once potted, until certain that they are pest free. Check our FAQ section, or search “mealy bugs” on our site for more information.
  • Jessica LettichAugust 25, 2018 8:22 amI just started this fascination with African violets last December. I have tried propagating from leaves with several plants with mixed results.The successful plants have resulted in multi crowned plants. Do I need to separate these? And if so, do I need to do that now (they were just placed in their regular pots two months ago) or should I do it on the next repotting ?I have to say I’m thrilled to have been able to do it at all (no green thumb here) and I’m looking forward to having little sisters of my favorite varieties. I Propagated mine without cutting the leaf because the cut leaves were the ones that failed. Could airborne bacteria or spore have caused those leaves to die? Thank you Rob and Olive for your support!Reply
    • Violet BarnAugust 26, 2018 2:33 pmThat’s possible, but it’s never been an issue for us. As for the multicrowned plantlets, you will need to divide them an pot them individually.
  • Lindy BeesonAugust 21, 2018 11:32 pmI started 4 AV leaves in one pot, which is staying in a plastic bag, started about 5 weeks ago. The leaves all look healthy. I can see some very fine hair size roots atop of the soil. But no sign of plantlets or baby leafs – but the stems themselves of the leaves are growing! I cut the stem about 1/2″ and inserted them in the soil right up to the edge of the leaf. But now, the stems have grown and 2 of the leaves are about 1/2″ above the soil, the other 2 the same, but not as much. My question is, is this normal or ok? Do you think they will still form plantlets? About how long before plantlets usually appear? I also want to thank you – I had no idea about the care needed for AVs. I had 2 I inherited from my mom who passed away in 2015. The cat killed one, the other grew a large neck and was on its last legs, but I was able to save it using your instructions, and hopefully will produce a new plant or 2 to carry on as well.Reply
    • Violet BarnAugust 22, 2018 10:45 amThis is normal. How long it takes to see plantlets will depend upon many things, including the condition, age, and variety of leaf being rooted. Should see something within a few months, if not earlier, but can take longer. One trick to speeding things up and keeping the rooted leaf itself from growing is to trim the top of this leaf when rooted. This keeps the leaf from growing up and forces its energies into producing roots and plantlets.
    • Lindy BeesonAugust 22, 2018 10:04 pmthank you so much for your answer and help. I hope you don’t mind another quick question. I’ve been opening up the ziplock bag about once a week to check on the leaves, and then I blow some air into the bag and zip it back up. As per your instructions, I started with a moist, not soggy, mix – and have not added any water. Because I open the bag (usually less than a minute) and you say it may take a few months for this process – will I need to add water at some point? Or is it unlikely to need to be watered? Thanks again. BTW, I did cut off about 1/4th to 1/3rd the top of the leaves off when I prepared them.
    • Violet BarnAugust 24, 2018 9:19 amDon’t think you will have to water.
  • Sandi NorwoodAugust 3, 2018 5:42 pmI bought 4 leaves from eBay in April. I used African violet potting mix. Two have produced plantlets so far. I use produce bags to make minuture greenhouses, I uncover them once a week to check on the soil. This is my first try at growing African violets from leaves, so far so good.Reply
  • Sandra HertzerJuly 19, 2018 10:03 amThank you for all this info. I started my AV from two leaves and new growth is coming and looking good. It has been about two months. Can I just snip the starter leave off or do I need to seperate them?Reply
    • Violet BarnJuly 19, 2018 3:11 pmYou can keep the starter leaf, or not. It won’t matter much either way. When you pot the plantlets, you can remove the “mother leaf” then.
  • Gina VerbenaJuly 5, 2018 3:51 amHi, I am poised to remove the parent leaf from some new plantlets. I feel compelled to simply sever the leaf at soil level to avoid having to uproot the whole plant.They were started in African Violet potting mix, which is how I have always done it. My Aunt started me off with a violet 40 yrs ago! I usually leave the parent leaf on, ad infinitum, but I wish to gift these on so they need to look neat. Is there any harm likely from cutting off the leaf?Reply
    • Violet BarnJuly 7, 2018 4:31 pmNo harm in removing the “mother” leaf. It has already served its purpose in producing new plantlets and is no longer needed.
  • DebMay 15, 2018 3:44 pmI have started 4 leaves in water in plastic disposable coffee cups, covered with plastic wrap. The roots and plantlets have appeared, the water looks good still, but there are a couple black spots and gold spots on the inside of the cups. The gold spots almost looks like burn marks. Should these be moved to another cup with fresh water? I love watching the roots and plantlets grow so was in no hurry to place into potting mix, but don’t want them to rot because of mold.Reply
    • Violet BarnMay 16, 2018 11:24 amWe don’t root leaves in water ourselves–eventually they’ve got to go in soil anyway. There’s no reason you can’t move them into fresh water–they won’t notice the difference.
  • Dr. Mary Ann O’GradyMay 3, 2018 11:42 amHi Everyone,I just “discovered” this thread so I am not certain that this query has not already been addressed, but have you tried rooting leaves in perlite by keeping it moist rather than rooting them in water?Also, I recently read that the flower stems can also be used to propagate AVs but which is the more successful method of propagation, leaves or flower stems?Reply
    • L011iP0PMay 4, 2018 10:09 amYou can root leaf cuttings in perlite. You’ll just need to keep them constantly moist, since perlite won’t retain water like peat or vermiculite will. See our lesson on propagating chimera violets by blossom stems–this can be done for any violet. Propagation by leaves is still much simpler, easier and more efficient, which is why most growers (commercial and hobbyist) still prefer this method.
  • Cindy WilsonApril 20, 2018 1:27 amI was trimming dead leaves off of my mature African violet, and the foliage broke away from the thick root. I am trying to root the entire green plant in water, will this work or should I give up and just cut the leaves off and start with plantlets as you describe with individual leaves above?Reply
  • TessaApril 7, 2018 10:37 amI am trying to propagate my current African violet plant. I followed the instructions you have on cutting the leaf. I put them in a plastic container with a lid. Yesterday I looked at them and the leaves were turning dark and wilted. Before placing them in the container I put the tiniest amount of water in them. Can you help me figure out what I did wrong? I also used root growth hormone if that makes a difference. Thank you!Reply
    • Violet BarnApril 7, 2018 3:57 pmYou won’t need root hormone to root violet leaves, since they are tender and it can sometimes do more harm than good. If they were overhandled or stressed to begin with, or the soil was too wet (though this doesn’t seem the case), this can also cause these symptoms.
  • Gary P BeckMarch 24, 2018 2:09 pmThis is ,I guess, not the place for this question, please answer anyway, as growing African violets is my dream. I constantly end up in a situation where a new plant loses its’ blooms, the leaves turn black and moldy, and finally the leaves separate from the stem, and then death. This is a constantly occurring problem, so I have a bad habit of doing something wrong, as your plants arrive in beautiful condition. Thank you.Reply
    • Violet BarnMarch 24, 2018 2:10 pmWithout knowing more, guessing the soil is being kept too wet/overwatered.
    • RayApril 22, 2018 6:00 amThe leaves don’t like being wet when watering, which kills them. I only water the soil or the bottom dish.
    • Violet BarnApril 22, 2018 9:56 amWater on the leaves won’t kill the leaves–both mother nature, and many large commercial greenhouses, water from overhead. The temperature of the water is more important. Avoid water much colder, or warmer, than room temperature.
  • Danny S.March 3, 2018 3:02 pmMy mother had violets for 50 years….from my childhood till her passing 2 years ago. I “inherited” one of her purple violets and took great care till it looked better and better…just gorgeous, actually. Then I overwatered or somehow sent it into shock and it disintegrated until I was faced with only a leaf or 2 left. So I read your article and most comments, and now I have tiny plantlets from a leaf petiole. Yet I do not know when to remove the baggie from my very tiny violets growing from the petiole I propagated about 2 1/2 months ago. There are perhaps 3, maybe 4 sprouts and they are approximately 3/4 to an inch tall…certainly clearly visible. Can/will you advise me on what to do next? I am determined and optimistic about growing a new beautiful violet from my remnant-turned-petiole.
    Thanks so much.Reply
  • Mary L. AdamsJanuary 29, 2018 6:19 pmI would like to know if Ma’s Pink Beetles can be rooted from a leaf cutting. I have ordered violets from you, and the plants were wonderful. They have all grown to sizeable plants. Thank You!!!Reply
    • Violet BarnFebruary 2, 2018 10:33 amYes. Like any other violet, and it should produce plantlets true to the original plant.
  • remiJanuary 12, 2018 12:44 pmI just tried to propagate my violet about 1-2 weeks ago. The leaf became soft after a few days (I think I waited too long to water). Now, it doesn’t appear to be getting worse but it is still soft. Do you think little plantlets will be able to come out still or should I start over?Reply
    • Violet BarnJanuary 13, 2018 10:50 amHard to say. Once it produces roots, it should recover. This is why we like to put our cuttings under cover–in a baggie or clear plastic container. You won’t have to worry about watering and it will keep the cuttings from wilting prior to producing roots.
  • Dee MartinJanuary 6, 2018 10:19 amI have a nice “baby” from my leaf cutting about 12 weeks old. When do I cut off the “mother leaf”?Reply
    • Violet BarnJanuary 10, 2018 11:07 amYou needn’t cut the mother leaf at all. It can remain until you’re ready to pot up the small plantlet.
  • Mary G. DouglassJanuary 3, 2018 6:29 pmI had two sets of leaves that I rooted six months ago, but they never produced plantlets. I was going to discard them, but I turned them out of their pots first to see if I could see anything under the soil. To my surprise, one leaf had ghostly little white plantlets that seemed to be growing down instead of up toward the soil’s surface. I repotted the leaf shallowly so that the tiny plantlets will be exposed to light. Is this a common problem, and do you think my upside down plantlets will develop normally now?Reply
    • Violet BarnJanuary 5, 2018 12:12 pmIt’s likely those (beneath the soil surface) plantlets would have worked their way upwards, though some never do. It is a good practice to root the leaf cuttings shallowly–cutting the petiole (leaf stem) no more than 1/4″ to 1/2″ long from the leaf base. This way the plantlets won’t have so far to go to reach the surface. Cutting the petiole at a angle (cut side facing up) also encourages plantlets to develop above the stem, rather than below, getting them pointed in the right direction.
  • Virginia BlodgettDecember 9, 2017 1:11 pmI started leaves in soil 9 months ago. Leaves seem happy but no plantlets. I have not had them under plastic. Should I just be more patient or give up on them? Also, I have pots that are self-watering- meaning they have water below that soaks into the upper pot. It is supposed to be for Aftrican violets. A white residue collects on the surface of the dirt and looks toxic. Does it really hurt anything? What do you think of that kind of pot?Reply
    • Violet BarnDecember 10, 2017 6:37 pmShould have produced plantlets by now. If leaves used are old (taken from outer rows of plant) they can be a bit woody/tough and won’t produce plantlets as easily. Best to use young (but still mature) leaves. The white residue is likely just the salts from the water and soil leaching upwards to the surface. This can happen with SW pots, since soil is always wet and there is no means to water/drain these salts out of the soil.
  • Patricia NavesNovember 10, 2017 4:46 amA long time ago I was taught to root by laying a leaf on very slightly damp soil and using an anchor over the veins of the leaf onto the soil. Is done still?Reply
    • Violet BarnNovember 10, 2017 1:31 pmIt can be done this way, though it’s certainly more complicated and the success rate may be less. Violets, and most gesneriads, can be propagated numerous ways–one reason they are so popular as houseplants.
  • Hannah LimSeptember 8, 2017 11:44 amI personally find the information very helpful. I am just starting and I use potting soil is that okay? I will try to root some in water to see which works better for me. Thanks for you answer. Do we need to fitilize the plant Let’s? I use miracle grow for the two plants that I have bought and doing well. Thank you for your reply.HannahReply
    • Violet BarnSeptember 11, 2017 7:49 amPotting soil will work–add some vermiculite and/or perlite to lighten it up for better results. Don’t pack the soil…use it somewhat loosely. We fertilize all of the time, though until plantlets begin to grow, this won’t be needed.
  • IrenaAugust 19, 2017 2:19 amWhat do you think about using water beads instead of water for leaf propagation?Reply
    • Violet BarnAugust 21, 2017 9:15 amThis would likely work, though we haven’t done this ourselves. In any event, we prefer to root directly into a potting mix–you’re going to have to transplant into this anyway.
  • Jim MayfieldAugust 13, 2017 4:14 pmI am 50 years retired as an Horticulturist. After retiring I have decided to grow some African Violets as I never grew any while working. I have bought several plants and they are all doing quite well. I am growing them in A. V. Pots where the plants only receive water from the bottom through the clay, and that is also how they receive their nutrients on a regular basis.
    I have stuck a few cuttings but before I stuck them I dipped them in a weak solution of IBA and now I have new plantlets all around the base of the petiole and up an down it. They are not ready to plant yet but when I do there will be a lot of them.
    Thank youReply
  • Marcia GrahamJune 21, 2017 1:05 pmMust a leaf be potted immediately after being removed from the plant in order to be successful in producing plantlets? If it will be a matter of a few hours before it can be potted, should it be wrapped in a damp paper towel or not?Reply
    • Violet BarnJune 23, 2017 10:08 amFresher is better, but does not need to be done immediately. Can put leaves waiting to be used in a plastic sandwich bag–no need to wrap. To ‘perk up’ tired leaves you can leave them floating in a saucer of water–if you have it, add a drop of ‘Superthrive’ to the water.
  • HalleJune 19, 2017 7:22 pmLast time I tried to propagate by leaf, the leaves dried out and shriveled up, I think because the soil dried out and I was too afraid to water it because of fungus concerns with the plastic covering. I know you mentioned to another question that watering shouldn’t be necessary- but if the soil does dry out completely, should I still water the leaf cutting?Reply
  • Lauren WustenbergMay 27, 2017 12:08 amHello – I started propagating an African violet leaf in water back in February. It started to produce small roots at the end of April and it was moved to a light potting medium. Strangely enough, it now has new leaves growing, but they’re growing on top of the base of the mother leaf itself – not from the petiole (but near it). I have never seen anything like it in my life. It has 3-4 very small leaflets growing from the top of the leaf in a cluster. Have you ever heard of this happening? How does this change the propagation process?Reply
    • Violet BarnMay 28, 2017 3:40 pmThis is not unusual, though these plantlets tend not to be as strong or developed as the ones appearing from the petiole as they are often shallow-rooted. When large enough, you can pot them up the same as the other plantlets.
  • Irene GrayMay 3, 2017 1:26 pmThere are white specks onto of my violets. It is spreading. What can this be?Reply
    • Violet BarnMay 4, 2017 6:46 pmIt could be many things–may be pests or may be something harmless. Need to know much more than this. Email us a photo with a more complete description, or better yet, call us during business hours.
  • Catina BApril 25, 2017 5:46 pmI started a leaf cutting in soil. It is about a month old. It has yet to produce a plant let but the root system has grown up and out the sides of the cup? Is there something I should do differently?Reply
    • Violet BarnApril 27, 2017 4:53 pmWouldn’t worry about the roots. If the leaf was healthy, will will produce plantlets in time. Younger, fresher, leaves will produce plantlets sooner.
  • TaniaApril 5, 2017 2:10 pmI rooted several leaves in a small jello container…like a mini terrarium. They grow many plantlets. When I transplant them to individual 2-inch pots, they start off well but I am now struggling to keep them alive. They are in a cupcake container to help with humidity. Where am I going wrong?Reply
    • L011iP0PApril 6, 2017 6:57 amWould need more information to give an educated answer. Be sure not to overwater them when very young–their root systems are small and they don’t need, no can use, much water. If you’re keeping them in an enclosed container, just water them lightly once potted (damp, not soggy), then you shouldn’t have to water again until removed from the container in 4-6 weeks.
  • SherylMarch 5, 2017 1:48 pmI have one leaf cutting that is not growing plantlets in the soil, but rather 1/2 way up the stem.
    will these root, or is this a bum cutting?Reply
    • Violet BarnMarch 6, 2017 9:08 amThis sometimes happens, and they can be planted. Another trick to encourage this is to make extra small cuts part way up the petiole–often you’ll get plantlets both at the cut end and along the cuts.
  • DianeJanuary 28, 2017 12:57 pmI have a purple African violet plant which is 6″ wide and I was adding soil and the leaves and neck came away from the root. Amazingly it was only one strand of the root keeping the whole plant alive. I re-potted with extra soil and watered through the bottom and also the top. Was this correct or should I have put the neck in water and waited for roots to reappear? It is flowering but the leaves that are under are wilting. I would appreciate your help as my local nursery suggested I check on line which is where I found you.Reply
  • Rose HareJanuary 27, 2017 10:12 amI have rooted a leaf in water and there are roots and tiny leaves. What do I do next to ensure success? My last attempt succeeded for a while and then the plantlet died. I had planted the plantlet in African Violet potting soil. Maybe the soil was too dry or too moist?Reply
    • Violet BarnJanuary 27, 2017 1:07 pmWhen plantlet is large enough for you to confidently handle it, pot it into a small (2-2.5″) pot. Keep soil moist, not soggy. You can place in clear container or bag if you worry about it, until it shows growth. Best to root leaves directly in a rooting mix rather than water, since this avoids having the plantlet adapt and produce leaves for a different medium.
  • Alli KennedyJanuary 17, 2017 11:44 amI have a very old violet plant (guessing 15 years+) that has not bloomed in several years. Have tried African Violet fertilizer when watering, and have repotted it a few times to see if the soil was to blame. The leaves look healthy, but there are very few roots. Thinking of trying to propagate some leaves and see what happens. Any suggestions though on if the original plant can be revitalized and bloom again?Reply
    • Violet BarnJanuary 18, 2017 9:47 amAfrican violets can live “forever” if taken care of and repotted when needed. Use a light soil and proper size pot (discussion of this found elsewhere on these pages)–see our “restoring an African violet” lesson, for example. If you have good light and otherwise good care, it should bloom.
  • Stacey HirtJanuary 2, 2017 7:10 pmI tried to propagate a leaf with the stem back in August. The leaf still looks healthy and strong, but I haven’t seen anything sprouting yet. Is there a chance something will still come out of it or should I give up?Reply
    • Violet BarnJanuary 3, 2017 9:31 amIt’s been nearly 5 months. It may still produce plantlets, but it should have already by now. Root leaves that are not old and tough–young, but mature, leaves are the best. Most people tend to use very old, outer leaves, that they would normally discard anyway, for propagation. These tend to be the slowest to root and produce plantlets. Environment is important, too, but start with younger, fresher, leaves to improve your chances.
  • Victoria Maria FoggettaDecember 3, 2016 11:08 pmI tryed to start leaves in a covered plastic cake container, but al they did was rotttttttttt. What did I do wrong, I heard the humity was good for them.
    • Violet BarnDecember 5, 2016 8:39 amProbably kept soil too wet. Soil should be moist, but not wet or soggy. Also, keep at room temperature and not overly warm.
  • Judy taberNovember 13, 2016 5:01 pmI inherited my grandmother’s green thumb when it comes to African violets. At present I have 15 plants, all blooming beautifully. I have a “nursery” window with 5 pots of cuttings I rooted in water & am patiently waiting for babies. 5 plants I grew from leaflet cuttings are also doing great . How long before my plants start to bloom that I grew from cuttings ?Reply
    • Violet BarnNovember 14, 2016 9:50 amFor us, it’s between 3-5 months from rooting leaf cuttings to potting plantlets. Another 3-6 months until blooming. Much depends upon the variety, environment and care.
  • Annie HansonNovember 4, 2016 10:44 pmDear VB
    I have been given a fresh violet leaf in beautiful condition but it is without a stem. I have put it in water anyway and my question is – am I wasting my time or if I look after it will it eventually take?Reply
    • Violet BarnNovember 5, 2016 11:43 amYou can “create” a petiole (stem) from the leaf blade. With sharp knife/razor cut away the lower part of the leaf blade on either side of the main rib. Now root as normal–better to root in moist soil or similar medium rather than water.
  • Margie L.November 3, 2016 10:31 pmI have 4 leaf cutting which I rooting in soil, 2 from plant A and 2 from plant B. It’s been just over 5 months since I began these leaves. The cuttings from plant A have several new leaves each but they are just barely above the soil. What is going on? Are these viable?
    The cuttings from plant B, one is doing great and the other is doing okay. I did this last year from plant C and everything worked great. All 3 plants were gifts so I don’t know their origins.Reply
    • Violet BarnNovember 4, 2016 9:13 amNot sure of the question exactly. How soon plantlets appear from leaf cuttings, and how well they grow, will depend greatly upon the variety being propagated (genetics) as well as the condition of the leaf being rooted. As a general rule, green (nonvariegated) leaves, and mature, yet not old leaves (not from the old, outer row) will root and produce plants more quickly. The depth, and angle, of the rooted leaf in the soil also plays a part–obviously, if you root the leaf deeper into soil, it will take plantlets longer to make their way to top. Of course, care and environment are important, as well.
    • Margie L.November 4, 2016 7:54 pmSo these “ground huggers” may be viable and given more time may get taller? So I wait until they do get taller to transplant?
    • Violet BarnNovember 5, 2016 11:41 amWould need to see plant to know exactly what you mean, but yes. Transplant whenever they are large enough that you are confident in handling them.
  • Paulette ShaddyJune 26, 2016 4:43 pmA friend gave me a violet leaf I thought it would come up from the bottom as usual but after several months I added some fertilizer balls not many to the water I have sprouts up and down the stem. And the leaf got damaged at some point I have a sprout comming from it nothing has come from the bottom yetReply
    • Violet BarnJune 27, 2016 12:13 pmNot sure if this is a question. Plantlets typically sprout from the bottom of the rooted petiole, but not always. One trick, that some use, is to create additional small cuts or “nicks” along the petiole to encourage additional plantlets to sprout from these as well. The idea is to increase the number of plantlets sprouting from the leaf. We’ve tried this but, usually, the few additional plantlets tend not to be worth the extra effort in preparing the leaves.
  • Mary McCarleyJune 16, 2016 8:52 amThis will be my first attempt at starting new African violets from leaf. I have a question about watering the pots with the cuttings while you wait for plantlets to appear after the initial moistening. Do you need to water during that time? Do you ever remove them from the plastic covering during those weeks before separating and potting the new plants?Reply
    • Violet BarnJune 16, 2016 10:49 amYou shouldn’t need to. If the soil is moist (not soggy) and under cover, it shouldn’t dry out much if left covered. Ideally, it will be slightly dry, or beginning to, by the time the plantlets are ready to pot.
    • Hafdis ElvaJuly 13, 2017 12:30 amHello,
      I have followed your instructions about planting a leaf to create new violet plantlets. I put 6 small pots, with one leaf each, inside a gallon size zip lock bag. I then closed the bag. I am now noticing that the environment inside the bag is creating humidity inside the bag. There is no water on the bottom of the bag, but tiny droplets are forming on the interior of the bag. Is it too wet in there? Should I leave the bag open? Thank you for your help and all your words of wisdom :)
    • Violet BarnJuly 13, 2017 7:57 pmSome condensation is normal. If you’re worried, you can open the bag, but unless you see the leaves rotting, should be OK.
  • Lorraine ArnottJune 11, 2016 8:14 amI use the rooting method in water, but I did not know it takes 4-5 months for them to develop into a plant.
    Just love them and really battle to get them to grow. Have just started another 5 leaves and they are looking good.

4 thoughts on “African violets: Propagation by leaf

  1. When do you fertilize baby leaf plants and what type of fertilizer and concentration do you use?

    1. We fertilize all our growing plants, and cuttings, with the same fertilizer, each watering. Any “balanced” (a formula where the 3 numbers are relatively close) houseplant food will be fine, at the directions recommended for that formula.

  2. I have a problem with algae growing in leaf pots. I use ProMix BX and coarse perlite 50:50. Will Physan 20 or hydrogen peroxide added to the water prevent growth? Concentration save for African Violets? Would vermiculite be less prone to algae growth? Thank you

    1. If you have wetness and light, you’ll have algae. We use Physan 20 about once month in our water to control it. It doesn’t take much, a few drops (perhaps a 1/4 tsp) per gallon of water. Vermiculite, especially since it is light in color, will be prone to algae as well.

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