Leaf propagation is a really cool propagation method that every beginner gardener should at least try once because it is like watching a science fiction movie come to life; you can actually see little plantlets emerging from the mother leaf and developing their own support system, the root system.
Leaf cutting involves growing new plants from a single leaf. The parent leaf does not become a part of the new plant and rots away. The new plant not only forms a new root system, but a new shoot system also needs to be grown.
It is natural for you to think that if propagating by cutting the leaf is so convenient then why not perform it on every plant! Well, the ability to grow from a leaf is actually a rare quality, limited mostly to succulents. Only some plants can be propagated from it because leaf cuttings of most plants do not generate a new plant; they usually produce only a few roots or just decay.
Personally, this is my favourite propagation technique because you don’t even need a whole plant for the purpose. If you happen to come across a leaf of a succulent plant you like or if you ask someone for a leaf, you can propagate it and grow your own plant.
Leaf with a Petiole
Petiole is the stalk attaching the leaf blade to the stem. To propagate plants with leaf-petiole, remove a leaf and include up to one to two inches of the petiole. Insert the lower end of the petiole into the soil. One or more new plants will form at the base of the petiole. The new plants can be then severed from the original leaf-petiole cutting and the cutting may be used once again to produce more plants. Leaf cuttings take at least six weeks to form new leaves, depending on the conditions.
Leaf without a Petiole
Plants with thick, fleshy and succulent leaves generally do not have a leaf-petiole but it is an easy task.
- Cut the leaf: Choose a leaf that is in good health and has no rips or blemishes. Cut it using a sharp knife.
- Let the leaf dry: Once you pulled off the leaves you wish to propagate, allow them to dry out a little bit. Do not water the leaves for 1-3 days. This will heal the knife wound on the leaves and prevent disease from getting in.
- Place in soil: Insert the cuttings vertically into the soil, no need to completely stick it in. The roots will find their way into the soil on their own.
Ensure that the soil is well drained otherwise mould will start growing. The leaves do not need much water but they may need to be lightly sprinkled regularly.
There is another leaf cutting technique, commonly done for propagating Begonia, which involves making cuts on the outer edge or on several prominent veins on the underside of the leaf. Cover the cuts with rooting medium. Within a few weeks, small plantlets will grow from each of the nicked areas and the mother leaf will rot away, giving a bunch of new baby plants.
Leaf cutting works best for plants with succulent leaves, such as sedums, certain cacti, African violets, Echeveria, jade plants and begonias. The best time for propagating succulents depends on your garden zone. If it’s warm all year around, then any time is a good time. For areas with cold winters, propagate the succulents from spring into summer, to allow enough time for the roots to go down far enough into the ground to cope with the colder weather.
This is great, convenient and easy way to grow more plants in minimal cost. So have a happy time growing a whole plant from a single leaf because there is just no better feeling than knowing that you did everything by yourself. Happy Leaf-cutting!
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