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Propagating African Violets: A Simple Guide for Beautiful Blooms

African violets can make excellent houseplants in North America due to their easy maintenance and beauty. Their gorgeous blooms come in a variety of vibrant colors, so you’re bound to find a violet color you love. But don’t settle for just one plant! Propagating African violets is an easy process you can conduct at home to create more stunning flowers.

Propagation can include a variety of methods, which all involve creating new plants from a parent plant. In the case of African violets, using leaf cuttings is one of the easiest ways to do this. So, keep reading to learn how to propagate African violets with this method to create a house full of blooms!

propagating African violets (Saintpaulia)

Needed Supplies for Propagating African Violets

You don’t need an abundance of supplies when conducting the propagating process. Most of them are easily accessible, and it’s possible that you might already have some of these things at home.

Scissors or Garden Shears

When you go to collect your leaf cutting, you cannot use your hands. If you do this, you can damage the plant. You may end up shredding the stems or breaking parts of the plant that you don’t need for propagation.

Instead, you’ll need to make a clean cut with some multipurpose scissors or garden shears. This is important in the uptake of water and nutrients.

Potting Soil

If you’re propagating African violets, you’ll need good-quality potting soil. An African violet-specific potting soil would be best, as it contains all the nutrients these flowers need. They’re tropical plants, so they have different needs and growing requirements than other plants.

Small Pots or Jars

There are two primary methods for propagation for this plant, including potting or water propagation. If you choose to pot your leaf cuttings, you’ll need small pots to hold the soil and the leaf. But if you want to propagate with water, little clear jars are a good option.

Rooting Powder

Using a rooting powder isn’t necessarily required for propagating African violets. However, it is highly recommended. This special powder can increase the success of root growth. You might also notice the roots growing much stronger and faster than they normally would. The powder essentially aids in speeding up the propagation process.

Plant Labels for Supports

Leaves can be rather flimsy on their own. So your leaf cuttings will need some kind of support system to keep them in place. Wooden plant labels are perfect support options. The stakes will stand stiffly in the soil, and the tag parts are wide enough to hold your leaf. You could even write the date you planted your leaf on each label to keep track of growth.

Plastic Bags

Since African violets are tropical plants, they enjoy humidity. If your home is dry, it might dry out the soil prematurely, leaving little to no humidity. Putting clear plastic bags over your potted leaf cuttings can trap humidity. They help create a little greenhouse.

How to Propagate African Violets

African Violet or Saintpaulia on the background of window with jalousie, shutter, houseplants.

Now that you have an idea of what you’ll need, you can begin the propagating process. Use these steps to guide you through the growth of new blooms!

1. Prepare Your Soil or Water Jar

If you’re using the potting method, you’ll need to get everything together so you aren’t rushing around after cutting leaves. So grab your little pots and fill them with your African violet potting soil. Don’t pack the soil, as African violet roots don’t like compaction. They need loose, moist soil to grow properly.

After you fill your pots with soil, you should add some water for moisture. But allow the excess water to drain out, as you don’t want to overwater your leaf cuttings.

Water propagation preparation requires you to simply fill your jars with room-temperature water.

2. Choose and Cut a Leaf

Once your soil or water jar is all set, it’s time to take a good look at your African violet plant. Search for a small leaf, which will most likely be toward the middle of the plant. The smaller leaves are newer and typically the most healthy. Their stems are softer, while the outer, older stems tend to be wood-like and thick.

When you find the perfect leaf, cut about an inch below it at a 45º angle for optimal nutrient uptake. You’ll want part of the stem, or petiole, available. This stem is key when propagating African violets, as it will soak up water and nutrients and eventually grow roots.

3. Plant the Leaf

Now it’s time to start planting your African violet leaves.

Propagating African Violets in Soil

The first step in this process is to get your rooting powder out. Pour a small amount onto a dish instead of dipping the stem into the bottle. You don’t want any contamination if you end up using this powder for other propagation projects. From here, you can take your leaf’s stem and dip it into the powder.

Make a tiny hole in your soil-filled pot and place the stem inside. You’ll want the soft, fuzzy side of the leaf facing upwards. Gently push the soil around the stem to fill the hole and insert your wooden label. Then you can rest the leaf on the label to keep it upwards. Give your leaf-cutting a little water and secure a plastic bag around the pot to maintain humidity.

Propagating African Violets in Water

There is no need for rooting powder with the water propagation method. It will immediately wash off once the stem hits the water. So, to start this method, you’ll simply place your leaf’s stem in the water-filled jar. That’s it! Just ensure the leaf stays out of the water. You should only submerge the stem.

4. Care for the Leaf

After planting, you’re done with the bulk of the propagation process. Now you’ll need to care for your leaf cuttings as they grow.

Water Requirements

If you use the potting propagation method, you’ll want to water your leaf cuttings about once a week. Just be sure to re-cover your pots with plastic bags after each watering. And if you use the water propagating method, you’ll need to do water changes every few days. This will prevent any bacteria growth.

Sunlight Requirements

African violets don’t like direct sunlight, and too much sun can even prevent growth. Instead, you should put your propagated African violets in a bright room with indirect sunlight. They’ll need about eight to twelve hours of this indirect sunlight to thrive.

5. Wait for Roots to Grow and Repot Your New African Violet Seedlings

While you continue to care for your leaf cuttings, you should notice roots beginning to grow in three to four weeks. Your potted plants may even have baby leaves starting to form. Once your seedlings have about three or more leaves, you can repot them into bigger pots. It can take up to eight weeks before it’s time for repotting. The humidity bag isn’t typically needed after repotting.

If you’re propagating African violets in water, you can pot them after you see roots growing. Then you can repot them as you see leaves growing. Keep in mind that it may take a little longer for roots to form with this propagation method. This is due to the lack of rooting powder.

6. Take Care of Your Newly-Propagated African Violets

You can continue repotting your plants as they grow out of their old pots. This will allow them to reach their full potential, which can be over a foot tall and wide.

Continue watering your African violets once a week and keep them in a room with indirect sunlight. Soon you’ll have beautiful, full, and healthy flower plants that you can keep or gift to friends and family!

Frequently Asked Questions

African violets

What time of year should you propagate African violets?

You can actually propagate African violets at any time of year. This is because they are strictly houseplants where most of us live. Just keep in mind that you should keep your African violets away from windows in the wintertime. The cold can stunt growth and may even kill them. Remember that these are tropical plants!

How long do African violets live?

It might sound crazy, but African violets can live over 50 years. All it takes is water, indirect sunlight, and a little love for them to live that long. These flowers are generally very easy to take care of. So, with proper care, you can expect to have these beautiful plants around for many years ahead.

How do you know when it’s time to repot African violets?

One of the first signs that your African violet needs repotting is when roots start growing outside the pot. They’ll typically start growing out of the holes at the bottom of the pot.

Other signs include when the flowers start growing necks or stop growing altogether. If you notice any of these issues, it’s time for a bigger pot that can better fit their growing needs.

Wrapping Up Propagating African Violets

Propagating African violets is an excellent activity for both beginner and expert propagators and gardeners. With a few simple steps, you’ll be on your way to pots full of gorgeous African violets within months!

So what are you waiting for? Gather your materials, cut some African violet leaves, and begin the propagation process today!Are you looking for other plants to propagate? Check out our Propagating Pothos in Water post for your next propagation project!