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Growing from Leaves - Sharing Favorite House Plants with Others

Aug 26, 2008
You can raise many houseplants by using leaves or parts of the leaves as "cuttings" for new plants. Many people use this method to raise plants that do not freely produce such cuttings. The main plants used this way are Begonia Gloire de Lorraine, Streptocarpus, Begonia rex, Gloxinia, and Saintpaulia.

There are many methods you can use to get cuttings; a mature leaf is used in many cases. A mature leaf is prepared by cutting slight notches below the junction of the main veins. You then lay the leaves, with their undersides facing down, on the surface of a pan that has sandy soil. You then cover the pan with a pane of glass and put it in a warm room or greenhouse. You should do this in the spring or early summer.

Young plants will appear just above where the notches were made. When they become large enough, you will detach them and treat them as seedlings.

You propagate African violet-Saintpaulia by detaching the leaves and turning them into cuttings. You will insert the bases of the leaves just below the compost. There are many types of plants like the christmas cactus you can raise from leaves, but they usually aren't propagated this way. Cuttings or seedlings are obtained more easily in this other plants.

Other plants that can come from leaves include Fittonia, Fuchsia, and Coleus.

Increasing Houseplants by Division

Any houseplant that produces a rhizome - a creeping stem that is underground - or crowns or offsets can be increased if you divide the rhizomes or crowns and put the divided portions in separate containers. This is best done in spring or when you notice new growth on the plant. You must prepare your compost with the proper number of flowerpots before you start the division. The day before you divide your plants, you must soak the soil with clean water. If you don't do this, the dry soil will drop from the roots when you divide the plants.

The plants should be removed from their pots when everything is ready. You do this by holding them upside down and tapping the rim of the pot on a solid edge.

You will remove the crocks with a pointed stick and separate the plants into portions that are the sizes you want. Some plants can be divided by breaking balls of soil into sections. Others needed to be divided by cutting through the rhizomes or crowns with a stout knife. Each portion must have one or more shoots and several healthy roots.

You should put the divisions in pots that are large enough to accommodate the roots without cramping them. Make the compost firm and water it.

Dividing the plants does disturb them. You should take special care until the roots penetrate the new soil. You can encourage root development by keeping the plants in a cool, shaded area, and moistening the leaves two or three times a day. You can either sponge clean water onto the leaves or gently squirt water onto the leaves. After treating the plants like this for several weeks, you can put the plants in their normal areas.

Plants that Are Easy to Propagate by Division:

Asparagus, adiantum, aspidistra, pilea, billbergia, chlorophytum, clivia, liriope, saintpaulia, and sansevieria
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