Starting an African Violet from a Leaf Cutting

Step-by-Step instructions on how to start an African Violet from a leaf cutting.

Are your African violets getting old and unshapely with multiple crowns and suckers? Do you have a friend or co-worker who grows the most beautiful African violets, and that person will give you some single leaf cuttings, so you can start some plants of your own? This blog post shows you the two easy steps that it takes to growing an African violet from a leaf cutting.

List of supplies
A leaf with stem cut from an African violet plant,
A small clear plastic or glass cup,
A rubber band,
A piece of waxed paper to cover the top of your cup or glass,
A pair of scissors.
A small pot to plant up your rooted leave,
A commercial soil mix intended for house plants and African violets.

Step One… Fill a glass or plastic cup almost to the brim with room temperature water. Take your piece of waxed paper and cut a small “X” in the center of the waxed paper, just big enough to fit the stem of the African violet through (the waxed paper will suspend the leaf above the water). Position the piece of paper over the rim of the glass and hold it in place with your rubber band. Insert your African violet cutting into the “X” shaped slit (See number 1 on the illustration).

After about two weeks in the water, you will notice that the African violet has started growing roots (about 1/4th inch long). Quickness of root growth will depend on the time of year you start the cutting. If you start the cutting in the Spring or early Summer when most plants start their growing cycle, it will probably grow quicker, than if you start it in the Fall or Winter, when plants are in their dormant or resting period.

Place your glass with cutting in a spot in your house where it gets somewhat bright, but not direct-beating down sunlight, which would fry the leaf.

Step Two… About four weeks after you see roots forming, and they are about one and a half inches long, you can pot up your leaf. Plant the leaf in a small pot (no larger than 2 to 3 inches wide), which is filled with a soil mix made especially for house plants and African violets. After about two to three months, you will see small baby leaves starting to grow at the base of the mother leave (see illustration 2). When the baby leaves are about an inch tall, or the mother has started to die, cut off the mother leave, so all the energy goes to the baby leaves.

When the leaves have matured for size, transplant the baby plant into a pot no larger than 4 inches wide; as pots too big will make African violets slow to bloom.  If you can, grow your African violets in clay pots. Clay absorbs moisture and then releases humidity through evaporation, which the plant will like.  If things work out right, and your plant is happy, you will have a new blooming plant in about a year.

Lighting for African violets
Place plants in windows that get morning sun, preferably from the east, during the Fall and Winter, but move them more into the room, out of direct harsh light during Spring and Summer.   Strong Spring and Summer light could/will fry the leaves.  A north facing window is also a good place for your African violets to spend the Spring and Summer months.

Water plants with slightly warm or room temperature water, try not to use cold water. Make sure that the plants have drained well after watering, and that the plants are not sitting in excess water. If you try to wash dust off of your African violet’s leaves, use somewhat warm, but not hot water to clean the leaves, as cold water will cause leaf spotting. After washing, let them dry completely before putting them back in the light.

Feeding the plants
Fertilize your African violets using a low nitrogen, high phosphorous water-soluble plant food, you can find that at garden centers, and follow the directions on the package.

So there you have it, a quick overview on how to grow African violets. As a kid, I remember my mother having many African violets, so many really, that they filled a bow-window. She loved bringing them into bloom, and they were an easy houseplant for her to keep. I hope you are inspired in some way by this post, and you too try growing an African violet or two yourself.

Companion Posts on Fred Gonsowski Garden…
Norfolk Island Pine, an Easy Plant to Control its Height 11-28-2010,
Starting a Rose Bush and other plants from a Cutting (Slip) 6-17-2011,
It’s Easy to Grow Pussy willows 2-15-2012,


About fredgonsowskigardenhome

Your eyes deserve to view beauty. I hope Fred Gonsowski Garden Home helps to turn your vision, into a reality.
This entry was posted in House plants / Forcing bulbs. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Starting an African Violet from a Leaf Cutting

  1. Margaret says:

    I love African violets too and appreciate the helpful hints here. I’ve been having a hard time with mine for quite awhile, and now I see it’s probably because they’re in plastic pots. I never knew about the clay pots, and I never tried propagating but will definitely try it when my plants resume a healthy status.

    I just saw your Hand Painted Doors post from a few years ago and cannot believe my eyes Fred, those doors are stunning! How wonderful it must be to live among those vistas, they’re so tranquil. I am speechless, and that’s not easy for me to do ☺️

    • Hi there Margaret, You could try potting up an African violet or two in clay pots and see what happens. You could also insert the clay pot(s) in a plastic pot, so the presentation would be a bit more polished. How is the soil you have used, and what about the light? My mother would have hers African violets in the bow window during the Fall and Winter months, but would move them to a table, behind the curtains during the Spring and Summer, so the plants would get light, but would not be fried by the intense light. Also, have you ever fed your African violets? Only do it during the Spring and Summer months, and then stop for the Fall and Winter so the plants will not be encouraged to grow, when they should be in their dormant period.

      Glad you like my painted doors. They do open up the space more, and added details to doors that are too plain looking for me. I will eventually do a mural on the walls of a half bath that is off of my kitchen. When I take on that project, I will document the steps as a post.

  2. P.W. says:

    Hey Fred! My mom used to do just what you wrote about. She would pinch a leaf and stem from plants at family homes, and once at the public library. 😳 It was a color or variety she didn’t have…

    I hope your growing season is going as well as mine is this year! All the rain ma de my job easier, lol! Can’t wait to see any pics you are willing to share! Stay cool! 🙂

    • Hi there P.W. this year the garden is not the same as past years. There has been either too much rain, or too hot days when I’m not in the mood to work outside. With the too much rain, and not enough sun, a lot of the annuals that I planted just sit there and don’t produce that many flowers. The perennials are doing fine, but the garden is probably three weeks behind for flower production. Most years the garden is at its peak around July 11th, this year it was the last week of July. The planting of the dahlias and cannas was late, about a month late, because of the too wet ground. Maybe next year, it will be better.

      • Patricia says:

        I hear you, Fred! I put in a bunch of plants in a new garden bed and at first, I was so happy for all the rain. I didn’t have to water! But then the deer would come and eat things before I could spray again. I am discovering plants that the deer are not at all interested in and will make a note of that for next year. (Zinnias and snapdragons) And yes, then it got too hot outside to garden and the weeds grew! I have not given up yet! I need to put more mulch down, and I think some pants will bounce back when it gets a little cooler.

      • Hi there Patricia, today I was at my doctors, and he was questioning me about my garden (he is a big gardener himself). I told him it was soo rainy and then too hot, for me, which made gardening not that good, and even unpleasant to do this year. He was soo in agreement with me. We also talked about, with all the talk about Lyme disease, it was taken the joy out of gardening. I’m hoping that as we get further into August, the days will cool down a bit, and I will be in the mood to give the garden of “Needs Weeding” a good once over.

        When buying plants at your local garden center, or big box store, look at the tags, and ask which plants are most deer proof. They say a hungry deer will, at least once, take a bite out of practically anything.

        Enjoy the rest of Summer. The other day, the weather lady had the nerve to say that by the end of August we will have already lost one hour and forth five minutes of light daily ;-{

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s