How to Propagate African Violets (Step-By-Step With Photos)


I have had African Violets around my house for over 40 years. They are one of my favorite flowers and, in my opinion, are among the most beautiful plants in the world. The great thing is that I haven’t bought one of them since the 1960s. This is because they are fairly easy to propagate.

The best way to propagate an African violet is by leaf-cutting, then inserting the stem (petiole) about an inch into a hole in potting soil at a 45-degree angle. Then, gently pat down the soil around the stem and keep it moist, but not wet. Roots typically form in 3 or 4 weeks.

African Violet Leaf-Cutting Propagation Step-By-Step:

  1. Cut or pinch off a large healthy leaf with at least 2 inches of the stem (petiole).
Pinching off an African Violet Leaf

2. Fill a flower pot with good African violet potting soil.

3. Cut the end of the stem (petiole) off at an angle with a clean pair of scissors.

Cutting the Stem of an African Violet

4. Dip the angled end of the petiole into a rooting medium. (Optional)

5. Using a pencil or other small round object, make a 2-inch hole in the soil at a 45-degree angle.

Making a Hole in Potting Soil With a Pencil for Propagation

6. Insert the petiole into the hole in the potting soil.

Inserting the Stem of an African Violet Into a Hole in Potting Soil in a Pot

7. Gently pat the soil around the petiole.

Patting the Soil Around a Propagated African Violet Stem

8. Keep the soil moistened, but not wet. Expect roots to form in 3 or 4 weeks.

Enjoy your beautiful new plant!

Plants grown from a leaf cutting will produce a plant that is exactly like the parent plant, except for “Chimera” African violets, which are very rare and must be propagated with suckers.

What Are African Violets?

Purple African Violet
One of my Purple Beauties

African Violets are mainly house plants whose botanical name is Streptocarpus ionanthus, formerly Saintpaulis ionanthus, but they were discovered in 1892 by Baron von St. Paul in Tanzania and Kenya growing wild in the mountains under the cover of larger plants. 

There are many different varieties that range in color from white to all shades of pink, to all shades of purple, blues, and reds. And, although they are called African Violets, they are not violets but members of the Gesneriad family which are mainly tropical and subtropical plants.

How Large Do African Violets Grow?

African violets come in many sizes which range as follows:

  • Miniatures that are 2-6” in diameter, 
  • Semi-miniatures, 6-8” in diameter, 
  • Standard, 10-12” in diameter, and 
  • Large, 18-24” in diameter.

The Kind of Environments Do African Violets

What Temperature and How Much Light Is Needed by African Violets?

African violets need a sufficient amount of light for proper growth, they prefer a moderately warm temperature, and prefer not being placed directly under an air conditioning vent. They like bright light, but prefer indirect sunlight as direct contact with bright sunlight will burn the leaves and result in brown spots where the sunlight hits them directly. If they don’t get a sufficient amount of light, they will not bloom.

If you don’t have the ideal location for growing your African violets, you can use artificial or grow lights. According to information provided by The Violet Barn https://www.violetbarn.com/what-we-grow/african-violets/ who specializes in African Violets and other rare houseplants, they recommend placing the light fixture 12-18 inches above the plants for 12-13 hours per day.

the best Soil and container for african violets

African violets prefer loamy soil with a slightly acidic pH. It is best to pot them in soil that is formulated specifically for African Violets, but they also do well in all-purpose potting soil. 

There are recipes for making your own African violet potting soil, and I prefer using equal parts peat moss, vermiculite, and sand. This gives you a soil that will drain well as they must dry out between waterings. I also like to put a layer of small rocks in the bottom of the pots which also helps with proper drainage.

There are many different types of flower pots available from plastic to ceramic to pottery. But, my plants seem to grow better in either ceramic or plastic pots, not the ones I have tried in clay pots.

Watering and Feeding African Violets

African violets should be watered only when the soil feels dry to the touch. Use room temperature water or water that is slightly warm when the weather is cold. If your water comes from a city or community system that puts chlorine in the water, I recommend filling the watering cans and letting the water set overnight before watering.

My recommendation for feeding African violets is using a low dose of a fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro for African Violets (Click to see on Amazon) or their All-Purpose formula, not the larger dose for longer intervals. Use the package directions for the maintenance dose or the dosage recommended for every watering.

Potting African Violets

There are recommendations that African violets should be repotted every 6 to 12 months, but I don’t normally repot them more often than once a year. The larger plants need a 4 to 5-inch pot, while the smaller plants should not be put into a pot larger than 2-½ inches.

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

For more, don’t miss Step-By-Step Guide to Growing Potatoes from a Potato.

Anne James

Hi, I'm Anne but my grandchildren call me Jelly Grandma. I have over 50 years of experience as a Southern cook and am a retired librarian. I love sharing what I have learned. You can find me on YouTube as well! Just click the link at the bottom of your page. I hope your visit here has been a sweet one.

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