Question: I noticed my African violet seems to have two growing centers from which new leaves are coming. It is giving the plant a very odd shape and I’d like to split it into two new plants. Are there any tricks to dividing an African violet?
Answer: It sounds like your African violet has produced a “sucker.” A sucker is a new plant that grows from the stem of the of the original plant, either above or below the soil. It is one way the African violet propagates.
As you point out, leaving the sucker on your plant ruins the symmetrical rosette the African violet is known for. The sucker can also diminish the mother plant’s show of flowers, because it draws away energy. For both these reasons, you should remove the sucker.
Take a pointed object such as a knife or pencil, insert it where the sucker connects to the mother plant, and gently pry it off. You can stick the sucker in some moist potting mix to root it. Keep it in a humid environment by placing the pot in a plastic bag, and keep the mix just moist. Open the bag occasionally to let fresh air in. Within a few weeks, the sucker will have likely formed roots. (If it resists when you tug on it, it has rooted.) Remove the bag and care for it the same way you’re caring for its mother.
Get an illustrated guide to 5 houseplant tasks, including how to propagate an African violet from leaf cuttings, for under $5.
Here’s a great reference for violet lovers—African Violets: The Complete Guide.
Show off a humidity-loving houseplant with a glass cloche or terrarium.