African violets are exotic plants with thick, fuzzy green leaves and beautiful flowers with brilliant colors like purple, pink, and white.
They always add brightness and a soft touch to any room they are put in. With all these attributes, it is easy to see why anyone would want to multiply this flower.
Luckily for you, it is straightforward and inexpensive to propagate African violets – another reason they are very popular as houseplants.
By the end of this article, you will become an expert in propagating this plant, and once you understand how simple the process is, your obsession will get even bigger, as did mine.
Tools Needed to Propagate African Violets
You must have a few items to propagate an African violet plant successfully. As a gardener, you would already have some of these things in your toolbox.
Here is a list of the tools you would need to carry out this project:
- A pair of sharp, rust-free, and sanitized shears. A new razor blade or sharp pair of scissors will work if you don’t have shears.
- Rooting hormone (optional) to give your cutting a push.
- Water containers, if you decide to go with the water propagation method.
- A plastic pot filled with an appropriate soil mixture is essential for soil and water propagation.
- Rubbing alcohol to sanitize your tools.
- A mature host plant to get cuttings from.
- A clamshell-to-go container made of clear plastic. This is to create a mini greenhouse for your plant.
Deciding the scale of this project would be up to you, but it is advisable to start with more than you need in case some don’t survive the process.
Methods of African Violet Propagation
There are several methods of propagating African violets. All of them are easy enough for a beginner to have some success.
Each method has its pros and cons, so it would be best to keep reading and learn more about them to decide which would be most effective for you.
There are three known methods of propagating African violets. They are
- By root division
- By using seeds
- By leaf cuttings
We shall delve into more details below
Propagating African Violets by Root Division
If you have an African violet that has been in one pot for a long time, you’ll see that more plants have started to grow in that container.
Sometimes, African violets can develop several new plants from the original by rooting elsewhere in the pot.
In this situation, you should gently remove them from their pot and separate each plant by calmly pulling from their bases in opposite directions.
Once you have separated them, replant each of them into separate pots. Pay utmost attention to them as they may be a little sensitive after the change.
Shield them from direct sunlight and water extensively until they have settled. Then, follow up with your regular care routine for your African violet plant.
Propagating African Violets By Seeds
Getting new African violets from seeds is not as popular as the other two methods, but it can be more rewarding and takes about the same time.
You will get more plants from seeds, and because this plant requires cross-pollination from two plants, you can get more varieties of African violets from one seed pod.
You can purchase a potting soil mix that contains vermiculite and perlite or make it yourself using greensand, peat, and vermiculite.
I suggest that you buy the seeds rather than try to collect them from your mature plants on your own. Hand pollination is not always successful.
Fill your plastic pot about ¾ with the potting mix and add some water to it until it feels moist.
Carefully spread the seeds around the container, then place a plastic bag or wrap it over the container to maintain moisture.
Your needs would need a warm place to germinate, so keep the temperature between 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Also, give them about 10 hours of bright, indirect light daily. You can use grow lights if your room doesn’t have access to good light.
The seeds would start to germinate in the second week. Not all of them will grow, so don’t be disheartened when this happens.
If the pot gets overcrowded, you can separate the seedlings and place them in their separate pots. Care for them as usual.
Propagating African Violets Using Leaf Cuttings
Propagating African violets with cuttings is the most popular method. Although you’ll get fewer new plants than when you use seeds, you don’t need to spend because you’re taking the cutting from a plant you already have.
You also know exactly what you are getting because this method is just basically cloning the mother plant.
There are two methods of propagating with cuttings: soil and water.
This method is more straightforward than water propagation because you’ll place the cutting directly in the soil. It’ll get used to being in a pot faster than transplanting an already rooted cutting from water.
When selecting a leaf, make sure to go for the healthy ones. Avoid leaves with spots, holes, or curling edges. Also, pick more than one because not every cutting would be successful.
The leaves in the middle are your best bet because the ones on top are too young, and the bottom ones are already too old, so their chances of survival are reduced.
After making your selections, pinch the leaves from the mother plant and cut using your sterilized pair of shears, scissors, or blade.
Make your cut at a 45-degree angle at each stem’s base to give the roots more surface area. Let the stems be at least 1 inch so they can stand independently.
Now, you should dip the cutting in the rooting hormone. This step is optional but still helpful.
The rooting hormone would encourage the roots to grow faster and keep the plant from dying before it can grow new roots.
Prepare the new homes for your cuttings by filling your containers with an appropriate potting mixture for African violets. Then add enough water so the soil clumps together if you press it.
Next, press the stems into the soil gently until the bottom of the leaf itself is touching the soil. Place one cutting in each container.
You can use plant tags to support your cuttings if they cannot stand independently.
If the leaves are too tall for their container, make a clean cut to remove the top half of the leaf. This would not affect its ability to root.
Use the clamshell container or a plastic bag to create greenhouse conditions for cutting.
Keep them moist and close to a window where they will get indirect sunlight.
After about eight weeks, you should start to see new African violet plants. Allow them to grow 3 to 4 leaves before transplanting to give them the best chance for survival.
Move these new plants to their containers. Be sure to use African violet potting soil, as regular houseplant soil may be too dense for them.
For this method, you would need a container with a wide mouth. Fill it with water and place a plastic wrap over the opening.
When choosing a leaf for soil propagation, select from the middle area. Select a healthy leaf without spots or pests.
Pinch the leaf from the plant, then cut at a 45-degree angle, with about 1 inch of stem left. Make sure you sterilize your tools before use to prevent an infection.
You can dip your cutting in a rooting hormone if you want. If you are using a powdered hormone, there is no need to rest the cutting but for liquid hormone, let it sit for about 30 seconds before the cutting goes into the water.
Using a sharp object, pierce a hole in the plastic wrap and place the cutting through it until the stem is in the water.
Make sure you change the water weekly to prevent the buildup of chemicals or the development of bacteria or fungi.
You should see the roots start to develop after a few weeks when the new plant has grown to an inch, transplant it to a small container filled with African violet potting mix.
If you think that your new African violet plant is taking too long to grow, do not fret. They do not grow very quickly.
Just keep watering regularly and provide them with hours of light. You would see them bloom as beautifully as their parents do in about nine months.