Propagating / Rooting African Violets for New Plants

Originally uploaded by madaise.

Years ago, I was told to clip the leaves off of an African Violet and to put it in dirt. It would root and grow a new plant. I’m really not very good at watering frequently enough to keep the soil moist.. admitting this, I never tried this method.

Last year, I came across a new method I thought I’d try. The one given was too much work (in my lazy opinion, ha!) – a jar, covering the opening with wax paper; two holes – one for the violet stem and the other to use for watering… I mangled the whole project very easily. And ended up with dried up african violet stems.

Walking around Old Roberds Emporium one day, I found some small bottles – something like what they use to (maybe still do) serve alcohol in on airplanes – the little individual bottles.

For a quarter a piece, I bought several of them, just because (I’m a pack rat, another admission.). I stuck an African Violet leaf and long stem into the bottle and within a couple weeks, I had roots. I had no idea it was so easy to propagate african violets!

Only a few weeks more and I had little leaves growing off the main one. I’ve been lazy and haven’t planted any of them yet.. been waiting for some free time and nice weather – so I’ll so it soon.

Here are the bottles I used with the stems in it.

Here is a picture of one of my African Violets last year.

I never use straight tap water for my plants. I collect empty gallon jugs (water and milk), rinse and fill with tap water. I let these sit at least 48 hours before using to water any of my plants. This allows for the chemicals in the water to evaporate.

See more of my house plant pictures.

House Plants

Originally uploaded by madaise.

This year, all my houseplants are maintaining their green-ness through the winter months. Yes.. I’m actually remembering to water them.

We drink distilled water (I want to have my dad help me set up a distiller in the basement, but for now, we by from the store). When the water jugs are empty, I use a sharpie to mark it for ‘Plant Water’. Most plants don’t like water straight from the tap. These jugs are filled with tap water, but by the time it’s used to water the plants, the chemicals have evaporated out of the water.

In April, I’ll start adding bat guano (fertilizer) to the water jugs to give the plants a boost for the spring growth.

I have several plants that are just in water. I have my variegated snake plant in 2 vases of water (these are also watered from my water jugs). They were planted in a pot, but weren’t doing so well.. I thought I’d try them in water (about a year ago).. they are doing great.

Reverse Variegated Spider Plant

Reverse Variegated Spider Plant

Spider Plant
Botanical Name: Chlorophytum comosum

Spider plants are an extremely easy, beginner houseplant. They are very forgiving plants, tolerating neglect and thriving in nearly all conditions. Because of this, they are also very common.

The reverse variegated spider plants have leaves with white outer stripes, and a green stripe between. The variegated have an inner white stripe with green outer stripes. There is also the common all green variety.

Spider Plants are one of the plants on NASA’s Clean Air Study as an air-filtering plant.

Light Requirements:
Spider plants prefer a medium to high light area, filtered afternoon sunlight. Variegated varieties will require more sunlight than the regular all-green variety.

Watering Needs:
Spider plants have large roots which store water. They prefer to dry out a bit between waterings to prevent root rot.

Use rain water, distilled water, aquarium water or tap water if you let it sit for more than 24 hours before using. Spider plants do not like the chemicals in tap water. Brown tipping on leaves may be due to tap water.

That said, once or twice a year, I usually stick each of my plants in the bathtub and give them a shower. This gets the leaves clean, gives them a good soaking.. and just seems like it would feel good.

Spider plants are a viviparous plant, in which it produces seeds that germinate before it detaches from the mother plant. In spider plants they produce both seed and plantlets growing from stolons.

As a spider plant becomes more rootbound, the more babies – or offshoots, it will produce. The plant will require more water, as well. To reduce the stain the babies put on the mother plant as they each, in turn, grow and mature, clip the babies and put the small root system in water or soil. Each baby will quickly grow into a mature plant.

The mother plant may also be divided to gain new plants.

I found a reverse variegated spider plant at a local hardware store. It was a reverse variegated spiderplant. There were 4 mother plants in the pot. I couldn’t resist purchasing it specifically to repot.
Spider Plant

Here’s how I go about dividing and repotting. Pull the plant out of the original pot. This may require some gentle pulling. I use a butter knife to loosen the inside side of the plant and it usually comes out easily.

The plant had a lot of root system growing at the bottom. It had grown around the plastic drain in the bottom of the pot. I took a sharp knife and cut the bottom roots off. This may not be recommended by others, however, I have always cut the bottom portion off of a root bound plant, with no ill effects.

Now, the main plant is divided into sections – in this case, 4 separate sections.

I gently cleaned each of the plants root systems off, baring most of their roots.

I used a potting soil mixture with added sand for good drainage.

Finally, I repot into smaller pots, because spider plants do like a snug fitting pot.

I keep empty water jugs filled with tap water, which sits for at least 24 hours before use. Periodically, I add bat guano to it for fertilizer.


Copyright (c) 2007 Judi Cox.