Growing Plants by Leaf Cuttings
Propagation of plants by cuttings is the cheapest and most convenient method of vegetative plant propagation. While stem cutting is widespread, many plants can be grown by leaf cuttings, particularly the fleshy-leaved one and succulents.
Following are different types of leaf cuttings:
1. Leaf stalk cuttings:
A mature adult leaf with stalk can be inserted in the rooting medium with the leaf-blade just above the surface. Plantlets develop at the base of the stalks, and these can be transplanted.
In Peperomia and Saintpaulia, the leaf stalk is inserted in moist sand or compost (sand and peat) with the leaf blade above. The leaf stalk will produce new leaves and plantlets. Houseplants like Money Plant and Syngonium can be similarly grown by leaf stalk cuttings. The leaves of African violets may be rooted in a jar of water.
2. Leaf blade cuttings:
In Rex Begonia, the entire leaf with stalk is taken, and the large veins are cut or notched. The leaf is then placed on the rooting medium with a small amount of soil or compost placed over the cut portions. New plants will be produced at the cut places. Sometimes leaves are slit in stripes, tapering towards the base, and each stripe is inserted vertically.
When the Bryophyllum and Kalanchoe leaves are placed on the moist medium with their underside downwards, small plants develop all along the edges.
In sansevieria (the snake plant), the entire longleaf can be cut into multiple small pieces, and the basal end of each section is inserted vertically into rooting medium to form separate plants. During such process, polarity (tip and base) of each piece should be maintained. Leaves of Sedum are also placed vertically to obtain new plants.
3. Leaf bud cuttings:
In leaf bud cuttings, an axillary bud along with a leaf is removed to form a new plant. A leaf bud is removed by starting a knife 1.5 cm above the bud and leaving the stem by about 2 cm below the bud; cutting through about one-third of the stems thickness. The cuttings are then inserted with the bud going just below with surface of the rooting medium. Or the bud is buried deep enough to prevent it from toppling down while watering.
To accommodate more cuttings, leaves may be trimmed but not removed entirely. Once sprouted, the bud quickly develops into a shoot. The plants commonly raised by leaf bud cuttings are poinsettia, Hydrangea, Geranium, Camellias and many others.
Different types of rooting media:
As mentioned above, an excellent rooting medium should be well aerated, but at the same time should hold enough moisture. Some rooting media and their combinations can be used for leaf cuttings. Following media can be used: Sandy soil, sharp sand, sphagnum peat, cinders, coco peat, etc.
Remember that rooting media are temporary and are used for root induction only. Once the roots are formed the plantlets are then transplanted in permanent locations or poly-bags or pots with proper soil mix. In all types of leaf cuttings, root-promoting hormones may apply on the cut end for proper root induction.