Begonia Leaf Cuttings
Easy Propagation Method
Begonia Leaf Cuttings are the easiest way to propagate these plants such as the beautifully foliaged Rex types as they really have no significant stems to work with.
I had several pots of Rex Begonias this summer that I grew outside for their coloured leaves and because they tolerate quite deep shade. I brought one of each type indoors for the winter but I need more to plant out next spring. Follow me as I use a variety of leaf cutting methods to create next year’s plants.
What Do I Need?
I need a wide shallow pot filled with some soilless media and a plastic cover for it. A large takeout food container could work well. A sharp sterile knife or razor blade to make the required cuts and a warm well lit location are also essential. Fluorescent tubes are the best light as they will not generate too much heat while supplying more than enough light. The planting medium, perlite or a peat/perlite mix most be clean and sterile to stop the leaves from rotting before they root.
What Do I Cut?
Select a healthy leaf from the Begonia and cut it from the plant, leaving 2 – 3 cm of stem (petiole). From here there are a couple of techniques that are used to produce roots and plantlets. The whole leaf technique can be used on large firm leaves and may produce several plantlets from each leaf. Turn the leaf over to reveal its prominent veins. Make a gentle cut that goes about ¾ of the way through that vein and then lightly dust the cut area with some rooting hormone. Insert the stem of the leaf into the planting media and press down so that the cut area is in contact with the soil. You can make sure this stays in contact by using a straightened paper clip as a peg to hold the leaf in place.
Begonia Leaf Cuttings
Remove the leaf as in the whole leaf technique then trim the leaf to make a triangle with the stem at one of the points and about 1/3 of the leaf rising above that. Insert the stem and a small portion of the leaf bade into the planting medium. Rooting hormone is helpful but not necessary. Alternately you can roll the leaf into a cone shape with the stem at the point and insert the stem and a bit of the cone into the medium and fill the inside of the cone with the medium to the same depth as it is inserted. These methods will produce new plantlets a bit sooner but you only get one new plant from each cutting.
Light and Moisture?
Make sure the soil and leaf are well moistened and then put the plastic lid on top to keep the humidity at 100%. Place it in a well lit location but not in direct sunlight. Sunlight would generate too much heat under the lid and cook the leaves. Check every few days to make sure it is still moist and sprinkle additional water in if needed. After a few weeks you should have small begonia plants developing at the cuts. Separate these gently when they are big enough and pot them up to grow on for next spring. This works most of the time and there is a great feeling of gardening success when you are planting the little plants you have produced from your Begonia leaf cuttings.
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