Get Your Garden Growing: Leaf Propagation Made Easy

My passion for gardening primarily arises from the process of plant propagation. The excitement of cultivating new plants from an existing one enhances the initial charm and uniqueness of plants.

While there are different methods of propagation, some plants, but not all, can be grown from leaf cuttings. Read on to find out which varieties of plants can be propagated in this way.

If a plant can grow adventitious buds, it may be capable of propagation from a leaf. An adventitious bud refers to budding anywhere else on the plant besides the stem tips, plant apices, and leaf axils. Read on to discover which plants are suited to this.

The same principles and techniques used for propagating most plants must be remembered and used when nurturing new plants growing from a leaf. Preparing the media, they will be planted in is essential, as they will be growing in temperature and light levels.

I will outline below which plant types are suited and provide tips on nurturing your new plant developments and ensuring their best chance of success.

picture of leaves

Which plants can be grown from a leaf?

So which plants can be grown from a leaf cutting? Well, the answer is many. A plant that grows adventitious buds is likely to be suited to growing from a leaf cutting. The most common propagation style involves a cutting with an auxiliary bud, but this is not the case with a leaf cutting.

This blog will provide my methods to grow various new plants from leaves. Varieties of plants to look at that will grow from leaves are the following;

African violets, Aloe Vera
Money PlantsJade Plant
Golden Sedum Aclophii Snake Plant
Jelly Bean Plant Begonia
Mexican Snowball Spider Plant
Mother-In-Laws Tongue Cactus
Painted Lady Cape Primrose
Rat-Tailed Plant Blue Echeveria
Peperomia Donkey Tail Morganiammi
The Sting of Buttons Crassula Performia Gloxinia

A few house plants lend themselves to being grown from leaves. Succulent plants are also prone to this type of propagation as they have shallow root systems and generate new growth through their leaves. Developing a new plant from a leaf is not a complex process.

It can be delicate as some plant leaves can be fragile. Each plant has slightly different cutting methods and placement of the leaf for new plant growth, so you should research the plant you are interested in propagating before going ahead.

How to set up leaf propagation for success

After selecting plants for propagation and building excitement about the new plants that will be growing, the last thing I want is for this to be a fruitless exercise and to have the new plants not growing.

The factors mentioned all aid in the successful growth of a new plant below.

Propagation Media

The media base from which a new plant will grow is essential. It’s crucial to get the mix right to allow for; aeration, moisture retention, and drainage – the three things every plant needs from the soil.

New plants have different needs than established plants.

They are growing and are not fully formed, so they often need a bigger supply of nourishment and are not strong enough to tolerate certain conditions that would be fine for a mature plant.

A good propagation media usually contains sand, perlite, vermiculite, and peat moss.

You will often find that plant cuttings sprout roots when left in water.

These roots, however, can be pretty weak and stringy, as they haven’t formed a proper nutrient supply or solid base to latch on to.

Roots spouted like this often find transferring to a container with soil quite tricky and sometimes don’t survive.

Moisture

Before plants/leaves are rooted, the propagation media should be moistened. Materials like peat moss have a waxy outer coating and can appear wet on the surface but are bone dry underneath. To avoid this, it may take 2-3 even watering sessions to develop a thoroughly moistened media.

Humidity

What’s important to consider is that cuttings do not have roots. This means they struggle to replace the moisture they lose to the air through transpiration.

A high humidity level must be created for the new plant. The amount of moisture a cutting will lose to the atmosphere is complicated. Still, a good humidity level can be created by placing a plastic bag or covering around your sprouting plants.

Ensure that there is space for adequate airflow and room for your plant to grow.

Light

In general, low light levels or harsh light levels will hurt your new cuttings. Insufficient light results in slow root growth, and intense light can also stunt growth, causing leaves to fall off and burn.

Diffused sunlight is usually the best option for your growing plants.

Temperature

Like light and moisture, plants need a certain temperature for optimal growth. The soil temperature can be 10-20 degrees F colder than the air temperature in winter.

To protect your new plants, you can invest in a grow mat placed under plants to provide bottom heat, incubating and keeping them at optimal temperatures like newly laid eggs.

The optimal temperature for most plants is 70-75 degrees F.

Rooting Hormones

It can be wise to boost your new cuttings by dipping the area that will lead to some rooting hormone. The rooting hormone has differing strengths, and the plant type will guide your choice.

Rooting hormone provides an extra dose of auxin, the naturally occurring plant hormone that results in root development.

Types of leaf cuttings

The wonderful world of plants is known for its immaculate display of diversity. As expected, various leaf-cutting and growing methods suit different plant species based on their leaf structure.

Leaf-petiole

African violet is an example of a plant that can be propagated in this way. Cut your chosen leaf with about 1 1/2 inches of the petiole remaining. If desired, dip the lower end of the petiole in some rooting hormone and place it into your prepared container.

The new plants will sprout around the petiole base, and the large leaf can be removed.

Leaf without a petiole

The snake plant is the perfect example of a leaf that can be cut and propagated this way. Many succulents with fleshy, thick leaves lead themselves to this form of propagation. The longleaf of the snake plant must be cut into 3-4 inch rectangles or squares.

These can then be placed vertically in your prepared pot. New plants will be seen forming from the midvein.

Split-vein

A rex begonia leaf propagates in this nature. Pick a leaf and remove the petiole. Make several cuts on the prominent veins on the underside of the leaf.

The leaf can then be laid down, lower side up, in the median. New growth will then sprout through the cuts.

You can also use this method by cutting the leaf into individual wedges with a large vein in the middle. These wedges can then be inserted vertically into the medium.

Methods of leaf-cutting per plant type

Money Plant

Thought to bring good luck and blessings, this is a popular and attractive indoor plant. This can be grown from a leaf using the leaf-petiole method described above.

Aloe Vera

picture of aloe vera plant

For successful propagating, use a mature plant with leaves that are 8-0 inches long. Cut a leaf, making a downward angle with a sharp knife.

Leave the leaf to dry warmly until a thin film forms over the cut surface. This means the plant is vertically ready for cutting in the prepared container.

Jade Plant

picture of jade plant

This plant has small flowers, making it a sweet addition to any home. Carefully cut off a leaf and plant it vertically into a prepared container. In 2 weeks, there should start to be little plantlets growing around the leaf. These little plantlets can now be transplanted as individual plants.

Spider Plant

The two-tone color of the spider plant brings interest to the home or garden. Plantlets can be found growing at the crown of the spider plant. These can be cut and transferred into a prepared container for successful growth into their plant.

Cactus

picture of cactus plant in pot

The hardy cactus is a low-maintenance plant. The old saying is that if you can’t keep a cactus alive, you can’t keep any plants alive. Using a well-established cactus plant as the source to propagate a cactus variety. Take a cutting and leave it to dry for a day or two.

The drying process reduces the risk of the plant getting diseases while rooting. Once dried, plant vertically in a prepared container. In 1-2 weeks, the cutting should have formed roots.

How to choose the best leaf for a cutting sample

With the know-how of the ideal conditions for sprouting and the methodologies for leaf-cutting, all that’s left is to select the perfect leaf that will be the source of a whole new plant. Is there a way to ensure the best success regarding leaf selection?

The answer is yes. It is best to choose leaves close to the top growth of the plant and leaves without disease or discoloration.

When is the best time to take a leaf cutting?

When selecting the perfect leaf, the time of day can also be considered for taking cuttings. It’s been found that early morning is best as plants are fully turgid. To give the cuttings their best chance, keep them cool and moist until they are potted.

Cuttings can be placed on ice or in a dark plastic bag with wet towels to keep them healthy until planting. If there will be a delay between cutting time and sticking the cutting, it’s best to store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

FAQs on Get Your Garden Growing: Leaf Propagation Made Easy

Can you put cuttings straight into the soil?

You can technically put your cuttings in the ground at any time. In truth, you can propagate directly into the soil, but it’s much more difficult at home. You must maintain healthy soil moisture, airflow, and humidity balance when propagating in soil. 

Is it better to root cuttings in water or soil?

Many plants require potting soil for propagation, but others can be propagated in water. This is because they have evolved in an environment that permits them to do so. They are, however, still land plants that benefit from long-term soil planting.

How long do cuttings take to root in soil?

Rooting takes 3-4 weeks on average, although it can take longer for some species. The cutting can be potted up when the roots have grown 1-2 inches long or longer. This plant has a thick root system and is ready to be transplanted into a potting soil-filled container.

Conclusion on what plants can you grow from leaves

There is much to learn about plants, and wonder and joy in watching them grow and thrive. Propagating from a leaf is a fun challenge and has the bonus of saving on buying new plants.

Do not be discouraged if some of the plants do not take and form new plantlets. Gardening always involves some trial and error, plus a bit of luck. It’s a learning process about what works best in the environment and space used in each unique garden.

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