African violet propagation is fun and easy and the least expensive way to increase your collection. It is also the best way to learn about proper care and culture from the ground up, and provides an excellent teaching project for children.
Planting African Violet Leaves
Propagating African violets from leaf cuttings is the most popular method of producing more plants. African violet leaves can be rooted in soil or in water. Leaves are best rooted in an airy, soilless medium such as peat plugs or a mix containing peat and perlite.
The African violet leaves shown at left are planted in peat plugs in a dome propagator where they root quickly due to the porous nature of the plugs and the added humidity of the dome.
African violet leaves should produce plantlets identical to the parent plant. However, since African violets mutate easily plants grown from a leaf may not bloom “true to description,” or look like the parent plant. You can obtain leaves of varieties you want to grow through trades with other African violet hobbyists or purchase starter plants or leaves from reputable African violet merchants.
See How to Grow African Violets from Leaf Cuttings for detailed instructions.
Rooting African Violet Leaves in Water
Another popular method of African violet propagation is rooting leaves in water. Some people report greater success in producing plantlets this way, and others say that it takes longer to see results from water leaves. Your own degree of success will be determined by your individual growing conditions, and experience (and experimentation) will lead you to the ideal propagation method for you. For detailed instructions and photos see Rooting African Violets in Water.
Dividing African Violets
Another popular propagation method is by division which entails removing off-shoots (often called “suckers”) and planting them separately. This is the primary method used to propagate chimeras which must be genetic clones of the mother plant if they are to bloom true. Chimeral plants can also be grown from planted flower stalks, although this method is more difficult since flower stalks often collapse before taking root. Cloning African violets will also produce genetic duplicates.
Sowing African Violet Seeds
Planting African violet seed is a fun way to add a lot of plants to your collection. You can produce your own seed pods through cross-pollination or purchase African violet seed from a retailer. See Growing from Seed for my method of planting African violet seeds (applicable to Gloxinia seeds and most other gesneriad seed).