African violet (Saintpaulia ionantha) is a compact indoor plant, valued for its deep green, fuzzy leaves and colorful blooms. In addition to the traditional bluish-violet or purple blooms, African violet is available in shades of fuchsia, pink and white, and double or single blooms, depending on the variety. With proper care and adequate sunlight, African violet blooms almost non-stop. Propagate African violet by planting leaf cuttings in spring.
To propagate an African violet, start with a small container filled with a mixture of half commercial potting soil or vermiculite and half sand. Locate the healthiest leaf from the middle of your African violet plant. Look for a dark green leaf that isn’t too old or too immature. Cut the leaf from the plant, then trim the stem to a length of 1 to 1 1/2 inches. Dip the end of the stem in powdered rooting hormone.
Use a pencil or a similar object to create a hole in the center of the pot. Insert the African violet stem in the hole so that the bottom of the leaf touches the soil. Firm the soil gently around the stem. Slide the pot into a clear plastic bag, then place the pot in bright, indirect sunlight or under a fluorescent light bulb. Check the cutting at least every other day and poke a hole in the bag if beads of condensation develop. Add a small amount of lukewarm water if the potting soil becomes dry.
Watch for tiny plantlets to form at the base of the leaf in one to two months. Allow the plantlets to develop until each plantlet displays at least two or three leaves. At that time, dig up the clump with a spoon, working carefully to leave the roots intact. Use a sharp, clean knife to divide the plantlets, ensuring that each plantlet has a healthy root. Plant each plantlet in its own pot. Discard the original leaf or replant it one more time to grow more plantlets.
Cover each pot with a clear plastic bag, leaving the bag in place for a week or two, or until the new plants are established and growing. Remove the bag and move the plant to brighter sunlight when the original leaves are larger and new leaves have appeared. Keep the soil lightly moist at all times by watering the plant from the bottom, using lukewarm water. Don’t allow the foliage to become wet.