Q&A, Tips and More forum: Starting leaves

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Feb 14, 2014 7:11 PM CST
Hi, thank you for directing your Facebook followers to this website. It's great!

I've had two Polish streps for about six months and I am trying to grow some babies. I've searched on the internet and followed the directions that I found, which was cutting the leaf lengthwise along each side of the vein and potting them cut side down in a tray using 50% potting soil and 50% perlite.

The first time I tried it they all rotted. A couple of weeks ago I put down a few other leaves hoping for better results. I looked at them today and two of the leaves had rotted. I have them domed and barely water them once a week. There has never been any condensation on the dome so I really didn't think they were too wet. Obviously they were.

So, I am not giving up! I've grown thousands of av's from leaves and I feel this shouldn't be so difficult! Should I keep them domed or no? Half and half? How do you wonderful strep people do it?


Feb 14, 2014 7:46 PM CST
Name: Karen Allen
Fredericksburg, VA
I do dome my leaves for propagation Paula, but I never water the container they are in! I start by wetting a bowl of perlite... Enough to fill the container with a layer. After it has soaked in some water for a bit, I drain it completely, and then even put an old towel or washcloth against the top of the bowl and up-end it, so that any remaining standing water is drained. I place that in the container I am going to use. Next I do the same thing with a roughly 1:1:1 mix of peat/perlite/vermiculite... I say roughly because I do add a little extra perlite. I soak this in water, the same way I did the perlite. Same way, I drain it completely and use the cloth against the top, and up-end it for complete drainage. I put this mix on top of the perlite layer. Then I place my cuttings in the container and seal. They need to be pretty close to your lights... 12 inches or less. I don't even bother to look at cuttings again for about three weeks. I usually start seeing babies emerge in about four weeks, but some varieties take longer. If the container is sealed, there is no reason to add extra water until the babies are growing on well. The layer of perlite helps there... in that when you do water, it drains into the perlite layer and doesn't get the soil mix to wet.

You will probably get six different answers from six different people here. Absolutely not saying my way is the best way or only way... this is just what works best for me over the many years I have been doing leaf propagation. I also like using a large size container and group leaves together in the one big propagation chamber.

Instead of running after perfection, why not simply walk in faith?
Feb 14, 2014 9:47 PM CST
Name: Dave G
StrepbyStrep - The Passion Begins
Paula, thank you for coming! Here is a excerpt from Dale Martens article titled 4th quarter 2013 issue of Gesneriads, the journal of the Gesneriad Society. This is a must read article about Streptocarpus!


Cut a 2 1/2" section from base to tip while keeping the leaf and cuttings under water. Leave them under water for about 5 minutes. Then bury each leaf section about 3/4 of an inch deep into a soilless mix lightened with extra perlite and vermiculite. In the warmer seasons you'll see young green leaf tips popping out of the soil in a matter of weeks. In the colder seasons, it can take longer.

I have primarily used the AV method before using Dale's method. This works well too but will give 2-3 babies on average. One word of caution with the Polish streps, some varieties are very difficult to propagate. In general, they are really slow growers to start out. Once they get their roots growing then they seem to pick up. The up side is they are eager early bloomers.
Dave G.
Feb 14, 2014 10:39 PM CST
Thank you Karen and Dave!
Feb 15, 2014 10:15 AM CST
Name: Jacquie (JB) Berger
Wrightstown, New Jersey
This is very interesting because the method of cutting the leaves up the vein and laying them sideways, I use only on Sinningias and the cutting the leaf as Dave said is what I use on the Streps. I also used parts of the method that is suggested in the Violet Barn lessons for streps since I had no one to guide me when I had my leaves break off. Believe it or not I got 100% rooted. Ten in all.
That does not mean it will happen every time. I just got lucky and it was late September. I have just removed the lid from their little plastic house yesterday and hopefully I can now keep them alive. I use Miracle Grow Potting soil Mix with the added stuff in it for all my plants in the GH but for these I add 50% perlite to it and when I cover them I do add some warm water but not much to get them started. I then ignore them until about a month and the I take a peek. From then on I open the little cover and allow air to go in every week or so. It may not be the right way but it works for me. I use the plastic containers I get lettuce in from the Market Place. They make wonderful little greenhouses and fit on the window sill.

Here is a picture of my Sinningia babies. "Bristol's Love Potion". Only 2 but that was a start, considering I had never done them before. They take a lot of water. These were started in May, 2013. Leaves cut longways center removed and stood it up like toast in a toaster in a 3"pot. These are the result.

I am so sorry you had such bad luck to begin, I too am learning and these streps and sinningias seem to take forever to show growth, but it is so exciting when they do. Now we have strepbystrep to help. How lucky are we?

Thumb of 2014-02-15/JB/98cb6c
Feb 19, 2014 12:06 PM CST
I like to use a mix of 50:50 perlite and vermiculite in a dome under fluorescent tubes. The perlite I use is quite small, no larger than 5/16". I've been able to get babies from chevron-shaped cuttings with the central stalk and edge cuttings using this mix. I've also had success with straight vermiculite. I raised an edge cutting in vermiculite that had with babies popping from almost every vein.

Like Karen said, the key is a moist mix, but not saturated.

Feb 19, 2014 9:00 PM CST
Thank you all for your help! From everything I've read, I think I didn't have my leaves buried down far enough and the perlite I have is very course. With my new batch I added more vemiculite and set the leaves a little deeper. I'm hoping these will do better. Wish me luck!
Feb 20, 2014 8:39 AM CST
Name: Jacquie (JB) Berger
Wrightstown, New Jersey
Paula, I always use course perlite because I do not like dealing(breathing) with the powdery stuff, anyhow, if you wet it good and then make sure your leaves are in deep enough to pile it up around the outside of the leaf, it should work much better. I use a knife to make my little area where the leaf just slides right in and then I take my thumb and forefinger and push it together so it is firmly packed. I sometimes have them in really deeper than I think is safe, but it works for me. Hope this thought helps you.
Mar 11, 2014 6:34 PM CST

I've just posted the article on Dimetris forum about the way we propagate streps by leaf fragments. Sorry, it is quite long;-)


Please don't hesitate to ask any questions.


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