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What is Leaf Cutting?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2016
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Also known as leaf propagation, leaf cutting is a process used to root and grow new plants. When cared for properly, the small cutting can develop a root system and eventually mature into a healthy plant in its own right. Both professional and amateur gardeners often utilize this approach as part of regular garden maintenance and cultivation.

The leaf cutting that is harvested for this purpose is sometimes referred to as a mother leaf. In order to achieve the best results, it is important to select a healthy leaf from a plant that is fully matured. The size of the leaf is less important than the healthy nature of the parent plant and the leaf itself.

In order to prepare the leaf cutting, it is important to carefully remove the leafstalk, also known as the petiole. This can be accomplished using a sharp pair of scissors or a knife blade. Ideally, the stem should be removed as close to the leaf base as possible. However, there is no need to spend a lot of time on this procedure, since removing a section of the petiole is sufficient.

Next, a pair of scissors or a knife should be used to slice across the underside of the leaf. This will open some of the larger veins in the body of the leaf. There is no need to cut all the way through the leaf body. Simply using the knife to score the underside will work very well.

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Once the leaf cutting is prepared, introduce rooting hormone to the exposed veins. A light dusting is all that is required. Rooting hormone can be purchased at farmer’s exchanges, nurseries, and other retail outlets where gardening supplies are sold.

In order to provide the right environment for the leaf cutting to root, prepare a simple clay pot by filling it with potting soil. Make sure the soil is moist to the touch, as the dampness will help stimulate the function of the root hormone. Once the plant bed is ready, place the leaf cutting on the surface of the soil, with the scored underside touching the soil. Secure the cutting in place with toothpicks, to ensure the leaf stays in contact with the moist soil at all times.

In order to facilitate the rooting process, place the pot containing the leaf cutting into a clear plastic bag. Seal the bag using wire or string, and place the pot in an area that is away from direct sunlight. The bag will help create a humid environment for the cutting and promote the development of a root system. From time to time, use a spray bottle to gently mist the surface of the soil.

Once the cutting begins to develop new leaves, remove the plastic bag from the pot. Continue to keep the soil moistened, but be careful to avoid soaking the soil. Too much water will kill off the tender roots before they have a chance to gain strength. As each of the tiny plants developing from the leaf cutting sprout a minimum of two leaves of their own, prepare pots for each of the new plants. Make sure the roots are healthy, then place each of the new plants into separate pots.

Leaf cutting is a simple and relatively quick way of encouraging the development of new plants. Children can learn a great deal about gardening by helping with the rooting process, including the transplanting of the new plants to separate containers. Along with being a simple way to expand your garden, this form of leaf propagation is also one of the least expensive ways to grow the healthy plants you want with a minimum of effort.

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