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Leaf Cuttings

Leaf cuttings are another effective method of reproducing some types of plants. Some cuttings are cut across the leaf, planted with the stalk side of the cutting facing down, into sterile compost. Others are planted with the stalk still attached, and yet other leaves may be cut into 1-2" squares and be potted up individually. The outer part of the leaf should always point up; use only freshly harvested, mature leaves for any type of leaf cutting.

Good levels of humidity are essential for these types of cuttings. Leaves loose moisture easily, and have no ready source for water; minimize transpiration losses by enclosing all such cuttings in humid environment. DO NOT allow to dry out. Warmth aids propagation; a soil temperature of 70F/21C is usually ideal. A sterilized or peat-based growth medium is essential.

The simplest leaf-stem cuttings involve cutting the stalk 2" below the leaf base, using a very sharp instrument. Plant with the leaf base even with the level of the soil, and bury leaf and stalk at an angle, shallowly.

Some leaves, i.e. of begonias, are simply laid flat on the soil, pinned down if needed, after making small nicks 1" apart across major veins. The old leaf will slowly fall apart as new plantlets take root.

Begonia leaves may also be cut into squares some 1" across, and buried vertically with the veins of the leaves pointing upward and outward, about 1/2" deep.

Begonia leaf cuttings (detail)

Transverse sections of lance-like leaves may be taken from certain species: the leaf is cut into sections 2-4" across and are potted with the central vein and one cut end pointing up, and the other completely buried.

Sansevieria leaf cuttings

Succulent leaves can often simply be broken from the stem, and kept warm and shady. Allow to wrinkle, wait for appearance of roots and very small new plantlets, often months. Then lay flat on soil in a small pot. Water lightly and infrequently, and ignore.

leaf cuttings, mother-in-law's-tongue - Sansevieria trifoliataAfrican violet started from leaf cuttingUmbrella palm, Cyperus alternifolius, from leaf cuttingUmbrella palm leaf cutting planted upside down

Topics Referenced

Cacti and Succulents
Sphagnum and Peat Moss

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