Propagating by Leaf Cuttings

Cape primrose (Streptocarpus), rex begonia, and snake plant (Sanseviera) are a few houseplants that can be propagated by cutting segments of their broad leaves.

  1. Select a leaf.  The leaf you choose should be healthy and green, young, but full-size. Use a clean razor or knife  and try to cut as close to the base of the leaf as possible-the lower and middle sections of the leaf produce more sprouts than the tip.

  2. Cut the leaf into segments.  Each segment should be roughly two to three inches tall. Cut segments crosswise, across the leaf’s central vein.

  3. Prepare the flat.  Mix equal parts peat and perlite or coarse sand, lightly moisten it with water, and fill a seed tray. Use a piece of cardboard or other stiff material to make shallow trenches for the cuttings.

  4. Stick the cuttings. Set the leaf segments into the trenches to about a third of their height and gently tamp the mix up around them. Make sure the end that was lower on the leaf is in the soil. To maintain humidity, cover the tray with an overturned clear-plastic box, or form a tent with plastic wrap, ensuring that none of the wrap comes into contact with the cuttings. Place the tray in bright indirect light or under fluorescent lights. Water as needed until sprouts begin to form at the base of each leaf segment (6 to 8 weeks).

  5. Pot up the plantlets.  After the cuttings have developed a few tiny leaves (10 to 12 weeks from start), gently dig out the entire plantlet from the rooting medium, being careful to keep as much of the root system intact as possible, and pot it into a 3-inch pot. Water in well with a balanced fertilizer (10–10–10) at half-or quarter strength. If a segment has produced more than one plantlet, cut the segment so that each plantlet can be potted up separately. 

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