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Leaf Cuttings

Taking leaf cuttings is a simple method of propagating mainly house plants that may not have a clearly defined stem suitable for normal method.   

Whole leaves or sections are taken as cuttings and are inserted or fixed on to the growing medium.  This method can be used with coleus, begonia and African violet (Saintpaulia). There is no fixed time of the year when this form of propagation should be used as it is usually carried out indoors.

Leaf sections of primula in moist growing medium

Choose healthy, well grown leaves and avoid damaged or diseased material.  Use clean containers filled with a free draining seed or cuttings medium.  If the correct medium is unavailable, mix equal amounts of sharp sand to multipurpose compost.

Leaf cutting developing new shoots

As with all forms of propagation where the cuttings material is removed from the parent plant, there are no roots to take in water and nutrients.  The cuttings material must be able to survive using the resources stored in the leaves.  A humid atmosphere will reduce water loss and a little heat applied to the medium improves the formation of roots.  A propagator combined with a heated pad is ideal, although similar equipment can be improvised. Warm, moist atmospheres are ideal conditions for fungal infections and the use of fungicides is recommended.

Begonia leaves prepared for propagation

Whole leaves are laid flat on the medium and small cuts made with a sharp blade across the veins.  The site of the cuts can be dusted with hormone rooting powder and the leaf held down with wire staples or small pebbles so that good contact is made with the medium.  After a little time, shoots appear at the site of the wound and the plantlets can be separated and potted.

Leaves of Sansevieria cut into sections to make leaf cuttings.

Leaves can also be cut into sections, the base of the cutting dusted with hormone rooting powder and inserted into the growing medium.  Again, after a time, shoots develop at the base and a new plant is formed.  Using this method, a large number of plants can be propagated from just one leaf.

Peperomia leaf cuttings prepared for rooting