How to Root African Violet Leaves in Water

Rooting leaves in water is one of the more traditional methods of African violet propagation dating back to the early days of the plants’ popularity in North America. If your grandmother grew African violets from leaf cuttings she may have used this method (or merely pinched off a leaf and stuck it in the soil of the nearest house plant).

colored glass rooting jars
rooting jar

To root leaves in water you will need a rooting container to hold water and a means of suspending the leaf above the water while the stem remains in the water. We like to use small, colored glass bottles (colored glass slows the growth of algae) and aluminum foil. Cheap and easy.

First, choose a healthy, firm leaf from one of the middle rows of the parent plant. Make sure you choose a leaf with a long enough stem (petiole), preferably 1-1/2 to 2 inches long. Cut the tip of the petiole at an angle with a sharp blade.

African violet leaf cutting
cut stem

Fill the rooting jar with water to just below the rim and cover with aluminum foil. Poke a hole in the foil large enough for the leaf stem. Large leaves or longifolia leaves may require additional support. If you will be using leaf supports, such as coffee stirrers or plastic plant tags, you’ll need to make openings for them as well.

rooting in water
cut leaf stem
rooting african violets in water

An alternative to using additional leaf supports is to create support from the aluminum foil covering the rooting jar:

Monitor the water level in the rooting jar daily to make sure the stem is sufficiently covered. Plantlets should begin to grow and become visible along the stem within a few weeks.

This is a leaf of African violet ‘Cherry Dots’ showing several babies growing from the stem after approximately 3 months in water.

african violet leaf in water
rooting leaves in water

Comments

  1. MAX PARROTT says

    I HAVE SOME LEAF CUTTINGS IN WATER, THEY ARE STARTING TO GET BABY PLANTS ON THEM, WHEN SHOULD I REMOVE THEM FROM THE WATER AND PLANT THEM IN 2 1/2 INCH POTS? THEY ARE STANDARD SIZE PLANT CUTTINGS AND ARE DOING VERY WELL UNDER A GROW LIGHTL THANKS IN ADVANCE FOR YOU HELP….

  2. Jean says

    Hi, Max -

    I like to make sure the leaves are as large as I can grow them before transplanting them into soil – for me, that would be leaves about the size of a nickel. After transplanting, I am super careful about keeping the crown above the soil line and free of debris while the plant establishes new roots. Good luck, and let me know how it goes!

  3. says

    Hiya
    I’m super confused here – you seem to show your leaves producing babies under water?? I thought the leaves of these plants can’t tolerate water on them, so how on earth are they doing so well totally submerged (if they are?)??

    I’ve currently got one leaf with dozens of leaflets but I took it out of the water fairly quickly & have potted it up – now I worry maybe I’ve jumped too quick & they’ll die rather than progress :(.

    Regards
    Romayne

  4. Jean says

    Hi, Romayne -

    Yes, you can grow African violet babies from a leaf in water. They will grow submerged until they are large enough to reach the surface of the water, just like any other root cutting. When the plantlets are large enough to handle you can cut them off the mother leaf and plant them in soilless mix. I like to wait until leaflets are about 1/2″ in diameter before transplanting.

    Although African violet leaves are soft (and often velvet-like) it is a myth that they can’t tolerate water on their leaves. What you *don’t* want to do is get them wet and then place them in the sun or under lights – that will magnify any water drops which can cause burns. I give my plants a shower about once a month under a faucet, and make sure that I keep water out of the crown (the center of the plant where new leaves develop). If water gets into the crown, just use a tissue or paper towel to draw it out of the crown. I let them dry in the shade before placing them back on the light stands or on window sills. Washing the leaves removes dust and dirt and helps the plant breathe (see transpiration).

    My preferred method of propagating African violets from leaf is in soilless mix. I find leaves produce plantlets faster that way, in my growing environment. Good luck with your babies, and let me know how they progress :) .

    Jean

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