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How to Grow African Violets From Leaves

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Since the Coronavirus outbreak began, Janisa has been able to dedicate herself more to one of her longtime hobbies: gardening.

A blooming African violet

A blooming African violet

About African Violets

In the Western World, the African violet (Saintpaulia) is considered to be an indoor houseplant. It is popular among plant enthusiasts and regular folks who just like to add some color to their windowsills. There are approximately 20 varieties of indoor African violets.

These beautiful plants can also be found in mountainous regions of Eastern Africa (for example in Kenya and Tanzania).

Quick Tips on How to Grow African Violets

  • Bloom: Almost year-round.
  • Light: Grow in a brightly lit room, but avoid direct sunlight. Intense sunlight can easily scorch the leaves of African violets, so be careful. A window sill is a good option, but not in the winter months (if you live in the Northern Hemisphere).
  • Temperatures: Around 18-24 degrees Celsius (65-75 degrees F) is ideal. Try not to expose African violets to lower than 15 degrees C (59 degrees F).
  • Watering: Around 2-3 times per week or when the soil feels dry. Avoid pouring water on the leaves; water the soil under them.
  • Fertilizer: For best results, fertilize your African violets in the spring, during their active growing season. Feed the plants every 4-6 weeks during this time. It is not necessary to fertilize them in the winter months.
  • Propagation: Seeds, leaf-cutting (this method will be explained in this article).

An Easy Method to Propagate African Violets

Leaf-cutting is a super simple and fail-free propagation method. There are different ways of doing it, but the end result will be similar. New roots will grow from the base of the leaf and small new leaves will follow after.

This is not an instantaneous method, so don't panic if nothing happens within the first couple of days.

How Long Does it Take?

It takes around 3 to 4 weeks for new roots to grow from the base of an African violet leaf. For the first week and a half or so, it may seem that nothing is happening, but it is important to be patient and change the water that your leaves are in every couple of days.

New leaves take even longer to appear, but you should be able to notice some growth 6 to 8 weeks after the day when you first placed the leaves in water.

Using Seeds

Seeds are another way to propagate African violets. They can be bought online or from gardening shops. African violet seeds take around 8 to 14 days to germinate.

Growing African Violets: Things You'll Need

  • African violets: You'll definitely need to already have some pre-existing plants that you're going to get leaves from. The number of leaves you need depends on how many new African violets you'd like. However, I would suggest taking 3-5 from each plant.
  • Small bottle or container: It doesn't necessarily have to be small, but it has to be something in which only the stem of the leaf will be submerged. You may want to use a separate container for each color if you're propagating more than one plant.
  • Clean water: Depending on where you live, cool tap water should be just fine. Remember to change the water every couple of days.
  • Brightly lit space: A sunny room will work best, but avoid direct sunlight.

Best Soil For African Violets

The Propagation Process in Photos

Place the leaves in small bottles or other containers filled with water. Change the water every couple of days.

Place the leaves in small bottles or other containers filled with water. Change the water every couple of days.

Around 3-4 weeks later, your leaves will look something like this. Now, it is time to plant them.

Around 3-4 weeks later, your leaves will look something like this. Now, it is time to plant them.

Plant your leaves either 1 or 2 to a pot and wait for new young leaves to appear.

Plant your leaves either 1 or 2 to a pot and wait for new young leaves to appear.

The Process

  1. Cut a healthy leaf from an African violet plant. For best results, use a mature leaf. Avoid young leaves that are still growing and old leaves that will soon fall off. The stem should be around 3-4 cm (1-1.5 inches) long.
  2. Lay the leaf with the fuzzy side facing up (like they normally are on a plant). Cut the stem at a 45-degree angle. the cut should go from around 1.5 cm on the stem to the base of the stem. Refer to the embedded video tutorial for more information.
  3. Place the leaves into a cup/bottle/another type of container filled with water. The base of the stem should be fully submerged, but the rest of the leaf should not be touching the water.
  4. Wait until roots begin to grow from the base. This usually takes 3-4 weeks.
  5. Once there are some roots, transplant each leaf into a pot with soil. The leaves should be planted at a 45-degree angle. Depending on the size of the pot, you can plant them either one or two per pot. Some people prefer to skip steps 3 and 4 and plant the leaf cuttings directly into the soil. This is an option as well, but it may be a bit boring for some people since you won't get to watch the new roots appear. Also, you'll need to be careful to not keep the soil too moist or it may cause the leaf to rot.
  6. For best results, keep your new plants in a warm terrarium-style environment. It will take another 3-5 weeks for new small leaves to appear.
  7. You may want to separate the plantlets when they grow. Do this when your young African violets are at least 4-5 months old. This will give them more time to grow and will make them easier to handle when transplanting.

Video Tutorial on How to Propagate African Violets

Final Thoughts

Propagating African violets by using leaf cuttings and watching them turn into full-sized plants can be an amazing hobby. It is a great activity to try out with your kids or on your own if you'd like to add a bit more plant life to your home.

Besides, it's a very cheap activity! Even though the African Violet potting mix and fertilizer are recommended, you can still propagate your plants with just regular soil. This is a really simple method and African violets are a great addition to any room or office!

If you found this article helpful, please leave a comment and share it with your friends!

Some of the African Violets That I Have Growing at Home

pink African violet

pink African violet

Purple and white African violet

Purple and white African violet

Purple African violet

Purple African violet

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Janisa


Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on July 13, 2020:

Your pictures are beautiful. My mother grew African violets for years when I was younger and they are a beautiful flower. Thank you for your detailed information.

Janisa (author) from Earth on July 13, 2020:

Hi Sp Greaney,

Thanks for reading! It's really fun to grow plants and flowers of sorts from cuttings and it's amazing to observe how they slowly turn into the plants that you originally got the cuttings from!! :)

Janisa (author) from Earth on July 13, 2020:

Hi Linda,

Thank you for reading. Good luck if you decide to try it!

Sp Greaney from Ireland on July 13, 2020:

I'm usually lazy and buy the seeds when I want to grow something. But I do think doing it from a cutting can be more rewarding and cheaper.

Linda F Correa from Spring Hill Florida on July 13, 2020:

Really well written article. I am going to give this a try !

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on July 13, 2020:

Janisa, okay I'll do. Just an indoor flower.

Janisa (author) from Earth on July 12, 2020:

Hi Peggy, thank you for the comment! Cactuses are really fun to grow as well, but my cat isn't the most gracious creature, so I prefer to not take the risk for now...I have a number of other plants that are great to observe and take care of, so maybe I'll write about those here soon

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 12, 2020:

My grandmother used to keep African violets on her sunporch as well as cactus and other types of plants. I used to accompany my mother when she would water the plants when my grandparents were on vacation. I always admired the flowers and fuzzy leaves of the African violet plants.

Janisa (author) from Earth on July 11, 2020:

Hi Miebakagh,

Thank you for your comment. You should definitely try to cut a leaf or two the next time you see an African violet. The plants are super easy to grow and you'll achieve great results since you live in a warm climate!

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on July 11, 2020:

Janisa, this plant catch my attention near a church. It was such a beauty violent. The following day, it was being trim. If I had read your article back then, I would pick some shoots for flowering. Thanks.

Janisa (author) from Earth on July 11, 2020:

Hi Liza,

Thanks for reading!

Depending on where you live, African violets can also be found at some grocery stores (at least that's where I used to buy mine). Safeway may be an option, but it would probably depend on the location.

Liza from USA on July 11, 2020:

I love indoor plants. Yes, I would prefer plants that can live all year long. I love having beautiful living plants in my house. African Violets look beautiful and perfect plants to have in the house. I should be looking at this at the Home Depot tomorrow. Thanks for sharing the info, Janisa.