GARDENER COLUMN: Propagating African violets | Home & Garden

Now it’s time to take your cuttings. When looking at your African violet plant, you’ll notice the leaves grow in circles around a center stem. Select leaves from the middle where the leaf stems will be tender and not too tough. The smaller leaves are too young and other older outer leaves are too tough — both leaf types will not propagate well. Cut the leaf off close to the base of the plant using a sharp knife to avoid damaging the rest of the plant. First cut the leaf stem to about a half-inch long. Then make a second cut at 45 degrees so that when the leaf is fuzzy side up, the cut-side is facing up. The growing medium should be light-weight and retain water without being too damp or dry. This will encourage more root and plantlet production that will be in front of the rooted leaf. If you like, dip the stem in rooting hormone prior to planting, shaking off the excess. Poke a hole in the growing medium and insert the leaf so it sits at an angle, fuzzy side up with bottom of the leaf just above the soil. Firm the medium around leaf stem.

The next step is to create a mini greenhouse for cuttings. You have a variety of options – you can use a cloche, plastic baggy, a recycled plastic to-go clamshell container, or a plastic tray with a clear cover designed for planting seeds or small plants. I’m using a few clear containers that I have from some take-out salads. They just need to be big enough to fit the pots in them and keep the leaves upright when closed. If the leaves are too tall, you can cut off the top half of the leaf. Close the lid tightly so you create a warm, humid greenhouse. Put the container in a place that has bright, indirect light and is about 70-75 degrees during the day, 60-65 degrees at night. Unless you keep your house really cold at night or really warm during the day, normal household temps should suffice. You’ll need to keep the growing medium moist, but not soggy. Before watering, check for condensation. No water is needed if there’s condensation.