An African violet or Saintpaulia is a beautiful houseplant that can be easily propagated by leaf cuttings. These showy flowering plants can be started in either water or soil to reach maturity in nine months and continue to bloom all year round. Follow these steps to make African violets a part of your home.
Step 1 - Snip Leaf
Look for a healthy leaf in the middle of a mature plant and snip it off at an angle, keeping 1 to ½ inch of the leaf stem or petiole intact.
To propagate multiple plants, clip several leaves from the same parent plant or different ones for more colored variety.
Step 2 - Place Leaf in Container
Fill a glass container or a small vase with water and insert the cutting into it. Make sure the leaf is above water level. Place the vase near a sunny window or on a patio to encourage rooting process. Keep refilling the container to make sure the water level does not drop below the cutting. If you have several leaf cuttings place each in its own container.
After three to four weeks you will notice a filament growing from the base of the cutting, which is the developing root system. Transplant the cutting into the soil to encourage the plant to grow. Leaves will appear four weeks after the roots develop.
Step 3 - Transplant Cutting
African violets thrive in a well-drained soil. Take a small container with adequate drainage holes and place equal amounts of soil, sphagnum peat and perlite in it. Place the new plant into the container and keep it in a well-lit area that receives 10 to 16 hours of indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight could cause the leaves to turn yellow and the plant to flower infrequently. Keep a large plate or saucer under the container to collect excess water it drains. Your plant will flower in six to eight months.
Step 4 - Caring for African Violets
- Never let the soil dry between waterings. Water the container slowly so the soil surface is thoroughly saturated and excess water drains out into the saucer. Make sure the water is at room temperature or slightly warmer to prevent any chances of leaf spotting if water falls on the foliage.
- Feed the plant liquid fertilizer at ¼ the recommended strength every time you water it, allowing the excess to drain out into the saucer that you can then discard.
- Pests such as white fly, mites, or aphids could pose a threat for your houseplant. If such a problem occurs, spray the African violets with mild insecticide or antibacterial soap. Remove dead or wilting flowers as soon as your spot them and make sure you provide adequate spacing between containers to avoid the occurrence of pests.
An alternative method to growing African violets is to dip the fresh cutting in a rooting hormone to encourage root development, and then place the cutting in a pot of soil and peat. Keep the container in a well-lit area and water frequently.