propagating new leaves, wick watering

calshaye(3)August 25, 2012

Hi, I'm new to the forum and I decided to ask for some advice on starting new leaves using wick watering containers. I have had a great chance to use the forum and it's info and I greatly appreciate all the posts.

As I mentioned just started trying to start new African violet leaves and decided to use wick watering. This is working out ok. Lost a few because of soil mixture(made changes to soil, much better now) and I think because I was told to put them in plastic bags for extra humidity and to promote growth this may be causing the problems.I did this and now I seem to be losing my leaves, what is the proper method or what do you suggest. Should they be in the bags or is the wicking enough?I wondering if this is to much moisture. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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I personally don't recommend wicking while rooting leaves, it keeps the soil too wet and the leaf ends up rotting before it has a chance to send out roots. I do advocate using a clear-lidded plastic container or ziplock-bags when rooting leaves. The important thing to remember here is that the leaf itself, and not the petiole (stem) in the soil is what will be absorbing water (through humidity and their stoma) during this rooting phase.

For the soil I also prefer to go with a 50% perlite, 25% peat, 25% vermiculite mix with rooting as well, watered and drained so it is just damp and not overly soggy. I also am aware of people who go with a 100% perlite because all you want is a medium to hold the leaf up while it is rooting, however, I only use this method for taking semi-hardwood cuttings for shrubs.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2012 at 10:30AM
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nyxx(z7 Virginia)

Others here I believe are firm believers in tenting or doming. Personally I never do either. I usually just stick the leaf in the soil. Since I have started wicking in soiless mixture I notice rooting is a lot easier as I don't have to spend as much time checking to make sure it has enough water. It is possible that even with wicking your soil is to wet. When I first tried it and was testing different kinds of wicks and all sometimes after 24 hours the soil would be so wet I could squeeze a lot of water out of it. Granted that was before I figured out that the vermiculite they sell at the local stores is way to fine to use. And if the soil is too wet either due to the soil or kind of wick, tenting it will only contribute to the excess moisture and kill your leaf. Also if the leaf is too old it won't do well, in my experience anyway.

Hope you find something useful in my rambling reply. =o)

    Bookmark   August 25, 2012 at 10:42AM
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perle_de_or(Zone 7)

Thanks for that great tip about old leaves. I think that must be the explanation for why some of my leaves don't take. I have had some success and some failures with leaves and was wondering that if the soil feels damp should I just leave it and not add any more moisture? I do have most of mine covered.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2012 at 2:22PM
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Greg(z8, San Antonio)

I've had luck rooting leaves using wick watering, but yes, you want to make sure the soil is not too moist. And when I wick, I don't cover. Perhaps the moisture from the open resevoir is what helps the leaf to stay hydrated? Well, whatever the case, it has worked for me....wicking without covering......

    Bookmark   August 25, 2012 at 2:42PM
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I use a clear plastic solo cup with a few holes punched in the bottom and with a clear dome lid. I put in one inch of Perlite followed by one inch of Vermiculite on top. This then is put in a shallow tray of water which comes up to half way of the Perlite.
I treat this as Texas and add water occasionally to the tray after it has all been absorbed and the tray is completely dry.
This rarely fails, and is a very safe way to administer the water.


    Bookmark   August 25, 2012 at 7:20PM
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Hi everyone, thank you so much for the advice. After reading everything and checking each leaf I have more than 1 problem. My soil, to much moisture, wicking size and information that just wasn't quite right for AV leaves. Now after loosing most of my leaves I have to start over. That was an expensive try!! I purchased alot of identified AV leaves and thought things would go OK but not this time.

I also purchased several baby plants, what is the right mix of soils for these? The little plants are actually hanging in there but they need something. I haven't lost any but REALLY afraid these are next. Again many thanks, will give AV leaves another try. Can't wait to actually see my 1st little plants, if it ever happens!!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2012 at 6:12AM
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I live in central TX. I keep my thermostat set at 81. Yes, 81. I started some leaves as an experiment in the plastic applesauce containers. I put them in baggies. They are under lights. After a while, I noticed how unhappy they were looking, and I really think they were cooking in the bags. Years ago, I started leaves, with the crappy AV soil mix that was available at the time, and I had success. I did not baggy them. I recently received an order that includes leaves, and I have them in a wicking mix + extra perlite in little plastic cups. I'm not going to baggy them. I have ordered a humidity dome and tray, but I am not sure I want to use that right now at the end of August. I may wait.
If you want to wick for your young plants when they are large enough, I highly recommend Oyama pots. I've had great success with them. My mini babies I've put in the 1.5" pots, and depending on the size of the semi or standard baby, I put them in the 2.5" pots. I think I have one semi in a 1.5' pot. Oyamas work well here in Tex. You put a small layer of perlite in the bottom of the planter pot, and this acts a small barrier between the plant and the water as the water is wicked from the perlite. I am sold on them.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2012 at 11:21AM
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thank you for the information. I live in Maine so temps here right now are about 80 also. This is just my 1st time starting leaves so I'm very disappointed things didn't work better. I had only 3 make it out of 25 identified AV's from Violet Barn and other places so I put alot of money in at 1st, not this time will start with just about anything right now till I get the hang of it. I'm not giving up just readjusting methods and will look for a few NOID's I may be able to get a hold of at low price or free for right now. This time around will make better choices. I grew a couple of violets a few years ago, they sat on my kitchen table facing east and I never bothered with them and had them for very long time. I ended giving to my Mom so she could enjoy all the flowers while she was sick with cancer.

I have not tried the Oyama pots yet but have been looking at them. May try these out and see what I think. I have heard good and bad but think it's worth a look.
Thanks again,

    Bookmark   August 26, 2012 at 11:39AM
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In Annie's 6th podcast, she talks about putting down leaves, and she also has a wick, but I'm not sure that she wicks until the baby plants show up? Might be a good question for her. You might enjoy her podcasts. She's been doing this for 9 weeks now. Here's a link to her t6h episode

    Bookmark   August 26, 2012 at 10:55PM
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thank you will check it out!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 8:34AM
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This is very intersting to me.

I am new as well, and put down leaves a couple weeks ago for the very first time ever. I live in a cold climate so I have baggied them. I did put them down in a soil mix of equal parts of perlite, peatmoss, av soil mix. I wish now I'd have just used the av mix and perlite...but oh well....
leaves are still crisp...but gosh its tough just waiting...LOL.....keeping my fingers crossed.
My avs are under an opaque sky light. We are mostly foggey here everyday so am concerned they are not getting enough light. I guess time will tell.
Good luck on your leaves Calshaye. I hope you get some babies out of all your efforts.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 11:14AM
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When I put down leaves, I put them in 2 oz. solo cups in a mix of african violet mix and perlite, 50/50. I add water so it's only damp, not soaking wet. Cut leaf stem on diagonal, and stick in pot. I also cut top of leaf off to encourage leaf to make babies, and not continue to grow.
I Usually put two of the same leaf in pot, and write name on pot. I use foil trays with lids that I get in Walmart. I usually don't have to add additional water at all. When the mouse ears start growing, I wait until leaves are about size of a nickel before potting them up in their indiivual 2 oz. pots.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 12:23PM
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perle_de_or(Zone 7)

Thanks, ima_digger, I am using those same trays. This is my first time covering leaves and I was wondering if I would have to add more water. So far, my attempts look good after two weeks.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 5:42PM
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Thank you so much for all the feedback. This time I plan to use 50 perlite 25 peat/ av/soil 25 coarse vermiculite. I do not intend to wick water the leaves I plan on using the trays ima_digger 9 mentioned. After all the feedback and from a couple other members this seems to be ok. What do you guys think? I will start redoing the few leaves I was able to save and 5 of the mini's I bought from The Violet barn. Is this the correct mixture for the plantlets or do I change it up a bit? Sorry guys I'm asking so many questions just want to do it right thing this time and see those great little babies!! Another member has offered to ship me a few leaves and plantlets to help me start again. She is just so nice. As I have mention I appreciate all the help! Wish me luck on my new project!! thanks to all!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 6:51PM
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Doing the right thing can be very difficult at times. Just keep a close eye on them (without touching/tugging), and don't overly obsess. From the sounds of it, you've got a decent setup now, and the leaves should be producing babies in a matter of weeks/months.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 10:39AM
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It becomes trial and error. And you will find what works best for you. I had no luck by addind vermiculite. It kept the mix too wet. But I live in humid Florida and I think that may be why it doesn't work for me. I keep to 50/50 av potting soil and perlite, barely moist.
Like I said, it's trial and error. Try different potting mixes (make notes for yourself) to see what works for you. You should see babies in about 6-8 weeks. Don't forget to cut the tip of your leaves to encourage babies, not leaf growth.
Happy propagating.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 11:44AM
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