Friday, 17 February 2012

Taking cuttings of house plants.

I am not a very good house plant person.  I tend to forget to water and supply them with nutrients.  However, I do enjoy taking cuttings and producing lots of plants from individuals.  To all those that do not like cloning switch off now because taking cuttings is cloning plants.

A great many different greenhouse plants can be propagated using different types of leaf cuttings.  I usually take one complete healthy leaf off the plant with the petiole still attached.  The petiole is then pushed into the cutting compost - I still like to use New Horizons peatless compost and sharp sand in a 3:1 ratio but  I am using a 3:1 compost to perlite in the photographs.  The leaf stalk is pushed into the compost until the leaf lamina is lying on the compost surface.

Taking a leaf cutting from a Saintpaulia
It is remarkable how easily these cuttings produce new plants.  In a relatively short time roots are developed at the base of the leaf and the new plant sends out shoots.  Both Gloxinias and Saintpaulias are ideal subjects for taking cuttings.

A different method is used when taking cuttings of Begonia Rex.  A healthy leaf is taken off as I did with the Saintpaulia.
Taking a cutting from the Begonia Rex
The petiole is removed, although I have often left a stub of petiole on the leaf and pushed this into the growing media.  
Then the veins of the underside of the leaf are scored with the knife although I have had success with horizontal cuts across the veins as well. 
Scoring along the veins on the back of the leaf.
The leaves are then placed onto the growing medium and weighed down with stones to provide a good contact with the soil.  
Leaf lamina cuttings on the growing media
In some books it is suggested that wire is used to peg down the leaves.  This damages the leaves and allows a possible entry point for pathogenic fungi so I avoid using it.  

Begoinia Rex can also be propagated using leaf sections.  

Taking leaf sections
The main requirement for this method of taking cuttings is that the leaf is placed vertically in the growing medium the right way round.  The tip of the leaf or the part of the leaf cutting that would be nearest the tip of the leaf should be pointing up.
Sansevierias (Mother in law's tongue) can be propagated like this as well.  They do not grow to type though because they are chimeras.The veins going from thick at the bottom to thinner at the top. 
Sansevierias (Mother in law's tongue) can be propagated like this as well.  They do not grow to type though because they are chimeras.

Leaf cuttings need to be rooted in a warm, damp atmosphere so it is essential to keep everything used in the propagating procedure as clean as possible; compost and containers being sterilized if necessary.  It is also important to get the right balance with watering because provide too much and the leaves will rot, while too little  will dry them up. Most of these cuttings will need a temperature of about 16oC to 18oC  to root well.  If they can be put into a heated propagator this will increase success.  


  1. It enlarge my knowledge on the point!Thank You for the post. I love to read interesting post that has knowledge to impart. I hope to read more articles from you .Keep up the good work!

  2. This is such an informative and interesting post. I never knew you could propagate certain plants by the leafs lamina. Thank you for sharing your vast knowledge of plants!

  3. Texas 2014: I use rooting compound before planting the cutting in potting compost, and seal everything in a zip lock bag after watering minimally. Occasionally I'll open the bag to check on the cutting (every week), addina little water if necessary, although it's very important not to over-water. I ensure that the cuttings are not in direct sunlight but are in a well lit area and to date this has proven a successful method for outdoor plants.


  4. Hi Andy,
    These are the cuttings I took while doing the RHS level 2 Practical Gardening Certificate. They said that using rooting hormone was unlikely to make much difference because it when off very quickly. Rooting hormone powder also has a fungicide in it which is a little more useful.