The joy of African Violets
African Violets are easy to raise and great plants to own if you love having flowers throughout the entire year. They will produce flowers in any month of the year with the right light and fertilizer.
Rooting in soil
Use a fresh, sterile soil to start your leaves. Snip off a healthy leaf, plant it in the soil and add water. Leave about an inch of the leaf's stem on the leaf. Successful rooting is still possible with more stem length involved. It is also possible with less stem length and leaf pieces. A rooting hormone may be used to help this process along, but it is not a requirement.
Place your newly planted leaf in an area that receives some light but no direct sunlight. Keep humidity levels high for about a week. Make an 'emergency terrarium' for this step. All you need is a 'zip-top' sandwich bag. Place the pot inside of the bag and seal the bag. (Use wooden skewers placed inside of the pot to make sure the plastic is not touching the leaf, if needed.) Leave the leaf undisturbed for one week. Mark your calendar so that you will remember to remove it from the 'terrarium.'
Rooting in water
For rooting in water: find a vessel small enough for your leaf. Shot glasses work well for this method. There is no need to build an emergency terrarium; just make sure the water never completely evaporates from the vessel. When roots start to form, wait a day or two until the roots have multiplied, then plant the leaf in sterile soil.
What to expect
You will start to see roots forming in four to six weeks. It is a good idea to start two leaves at once: one in water and one in soil. This way you will know that the leaf started in soil is most likely rooting as well.
The slide show which accompanies this article has the results of two leaves being started at the same time. The leaf cutting started in water and then transferred to soil began to show new, whole leaves first. The leaf started in soil had tiny 'nubs' which started to appear about the same time as the leaves appeared on the other cutting.
Use the same watering method for your leaves that you use for your adult African Violets. Let the soil dry out between 'waterings.' The one thing you want to avoid is root rot, which can occur if you keep your plants' soil too wet.
Before you know it, you will have a whole house full of beautiful African Violets. There are African Violet clubs all over the U.S. and in other countries. Many of these clubs have leaf and plant exchanges, which makes it easy to obtain many different varieties of this beautiful plant for your collection.