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How to Propagate New Plants with Whole Leaf Cuttings

Leaf cuttings are an easy and fun way to propagate clones some of your favorite plants.
Some, but not all, plants can be propagated from just a leaf or a section of a leaf.
The majority of the plants that are usable for leaf cutting propagation are considered to be house plants.
African Violets, some Begonias, Crassulas, Gloxinias, Peperomias, Sanseverias and Sedums
are some of the plants that can be propagated with leaf cuttings.
When selecting a leaf to use for propagation, always choose one that is firm and healthy.
Some leaf type succulents like Jade Plants and Sedums require nothing more
than taking a leaf, allow it to callous for a day or two, then stick the stem end
into some moistened sand, and wait for a couple (few) months.
The leaves of a Mother in Law's Tongue (Sanseveria) plant can be cut into 3"-4"
sections and struck in a rooting medium to half their length. Be sure to keep the 'up' end UP!

The Proper Rooting Medium for Your Cuttings

The growing medium used for rooting your cuttings, like your tools and work area,
must be clean and sterile to prevent disease.

Because the cutting has no roots yet, the rooting medium should not contain fertilizer.
Most gardeners have their own preferences and opinions as to the proportions of the components used,
but they almost always consist of one or more of the same basic ingredients.
Of course, propagating certain plants may require a specific mix.
Willy the Garden Gnome
  • Clean, coarse, builders sand is often mixed 50/50 with peat moss. It is sometimes used alone as the rooting medium.
    Do not use fine sand or beach sand because it does not allow for sufficient aeration.
  • Peat moss is a good, water retentive addition to your rooting medium, but it tends to add the acidity of the soil pH.
    It is usually the primary ingredient for most rooting mixes.
  • Vermiculite is created when the mineral 'mica' has been heated to the point of expansion, like popcorn.
    A good addition to container potting mixes, vermiculite retains moisture and air within the soil.
  • Perlite is another mineral, which has been expanded through a heating process and forms light granules.
    Perlite is a good addition to planting mixes, to promote moisture retention while allowing good drainage.

Whole Leaf Cuttings

Some broad-leaved plants have the ability to create new roots on a single leaf.
With many larger leaved species, like Rex Begonias, a single leaf can be used to create
multiple clones by using the wedge cutting or split vein methods of propagation.
Moisten the medium before inserting cuttings, and keep it evenly moist during the entire propagation process.
Using a nail or small stick, make evenly spaced (if you are using a tray...), slightly angled cutting holes
to a depth equal to the length of the petiole (the leaf stem).
Select an appropriate, healthy leaf and remove it (with stem) from the plant.
Using a sharp, sterile knife, sever the leaf petiole from the plant as close to the crown as possible.
Immediately before striking your cutting, re-cut the stem 1"-1½" from the leaf, at an slight (45°) angle.
Try to match the angle of your cut to the angle of the leaf.
Dip the cut end of the stem into a good rooting hormone before inserting it into your rooting media,
deep enough that about ¼" of the base of the leaf and the mid vein is buried in the rooting medium.
Gently press the soil around the cutting.
Place the tray in a warm (70°-75°), brightly lit area or preferably, under a grow light for 14 hours a day.
Because they have no roots, your cuttings will need very high humidity, and will really benefit
if they are kept in a propagating case, terrarium, or in a mini greenhouse.

Cutting the stem of an African Violet leaf African Violet leaf cutting, struck into vermiculite Several Violet leaf cuttings kept in a terrarium type environment Rooted and growing, African Violet leaf cuttings ready for repotting
Propagating African Violets with Leaf Cuttings
The cuttings should begin to produce roots in about two weeks.
You should have a new plantlet in about eight weeks!
Treat them as you would treat seedlings of the same size. Once they have filled the small pot and are ready to transplant again, you can harden them off and move them to other locations.

Other Methods of Plant Propagation

Growing Plants from Seed
     Collecting Wild Seeds
Propagation from Softwood Cuttings
Propagation by Air Layering
Propagating with Cane Cuttings
New Plants by Crown Division