17 Houseplants That Can Grow From Leaves
Thinking of propagating a new houseplant from just leaves, but aren't sure which one is the best fit for your indoor garden space? There are a number of houseplants that can grow from leaves alone, provided they have the right care. In this article, gardening expert Madison Moulton looks at her favorite houseplants that will grow from just leaves!
Propagating plants is an essential skill every houseplant parent should know – especially those on a budget. You may have tried propagating plants from cuttings, the go-to propagating method – but did you know there are also several houseplants that can be propagated from a single leaf?
There are some downsides to propagating from single leaves. Firstly, the time it takes for a single leaf to grow into a full plant is far longer than it would be using any of the other propagating methods. It’s also not always as successful and often requires part of the stem to be removed with the leaf to ensure root growth.
However, if you’re careful about the process and patient when it comes to growth, you can end up with a beautiful plant that can grow from just one single leaf. Let’s take a look at 17 plants can grow from a single leaf!
When looking for the houseplant that has it all, few would argue with Sansevieria, commonly known as Snake Plant or Mother-In-Laws Tongue. This plant is tolerant of almost any condition, encounters few problems, and is also one of the easiest plants to propagate. With long, structural leaves and interesting variegation patterns, it’s hard not to want more of them.
Just one snake plant leaf can lend you many more in a few easy steps. Start by cutting off one of the leaves at the base. Choose a strong leaf with no damage or pest problems to give your propagation the best chance of success. Use a sharp, disinfected knife to avoid spreading disease to the cuttings or the parent plant.
Next, cut the long leaf into sections around 4 inches long. Mark the bottom of each piece with a marker to ensure you plant them root side down. Place the cuttings in a propagating mix of equal parts coconut coir and river sand, or use toothpicks to suspend the sections in a glass of filtered water. You should see root growth within a few weeks, after which the cutting is ready to transplant into soil to grow into a fully-fledged snake plant.
A genus of plant popular with collectors, Peperomias have tons of appeal. Also known as Radiator Plants, this group is low maintenance and perfect for beginners. There are plenty of species to choose from, from the rounded P. obtusifolia (Baby Rubber Plant) to the social media sensation P. argyreia, commonly known as Watermelon Peperomia. With so much variety, it’s easy to see why they have become collector’s items.
These plants can be propagated in many ways, one of which is from leaf cuttings. Simply remove a healthy, large leaf from the plant when the petiole (the small leaf stem) meets the stem of the plant. Plant in propagating mix, keeping it moist to encourage root growth. You can also cut the leaf in half horizontally to conserve moisture, placing the cut side down into the soil to grow more leaves.
A more traditional houseplant once again coming back in fashion is the African Violet. These compact plants are beloved for their soft grey-green leaves and gorgeous purple blooms that pop up through spring and summer when conditions are right. Much like the Peperomia, these plants are easy to grow from a simple leaf cutting, lending you more blooms over the season at absolutely no cost.
Using sharp and disinfected shears, remove a large and healthy leaf at the petiole. To direct energy toward new leaf growth rather than making the current leaf bigger, you can cut the leaf in half horizontally, but this step is not 100% necessary. Root in propagating mix and keep it moist until new growth appears. New leaves should pop up around the cutting within a couple of months.
ZZ Plant joins the Snake Plant on the short list of almost unkillable plants. As many who already have one of these houseplants can testify, you can leave it alone for weeks or even a few months and it will continue to look as good as the day you bought it. The structural leaves are unlike any other houseplant on the market and new cultivars are being developed with interesting colors and growth patterns.
To propagate Zamioculcas zamiifolia from a single leaf, start by choosing a healthy stem. Remove a couple of leaves with your fingers, removing part of this stem at the same time. Simply root these in a seedling tray filled with propagating mix. Only bury the very bottom of the leaf to stop the rest from rotting. They may take a while to grow, but they will be well worth the wait.
Another indoor flowering favorite, Begonia rex is not one of the most common indoor plants, often grown outdoors as a shade plant. However, if you’re looking to add a pop of color to your indoor space, the foliage of this plant is the way to go. Featuring interesting textures and patterns in reds, purples, greens and more, these plants know how to add drama and interest to an indoor space.
The leaf propagating process for this plant is slightly different. Start by choosing a large leaf with plenty of veins and no signs of disease or damage. Remove it from the plant and flip it over so the underside is visible.
Then, using a sharp blade, make small 1-inch cuts along the veins of the leaf, concentrating on areas closer to the base. Flip the leaf back over and place it on a seedling tray filled with propagating mix. Pin it to the soil using bent paper clips to maintain contact and keep it moist until new growth develops.
There are around 125 species of succulent Kalanchoe plants that come from tropical Africa. Out of these, it is usually Kalanchoe blossfeldiana that is found in nurseries and grown indoors.
In late winter and early spring, they produce clusters of flowers in bright yellow, red, orange, pink and white. They flower for months at a time and with a bit of a rest period, low light manipulation to force budding and a good dose of fertilizer, they can rebloom, making them popular indoor plants.
The best way to propagate Kalanchoes is by stem or leaf cuttings. For leaf propagation, choose healthy leaves and place them on a piece of newspaper in a dry spot for 2-3 days to allow the ends to callus over, preventing rotting.
Fill a clean pot with damp succulent mix or make your own using coarse sand, perlite and coconut coir. Place the callused piece of stem attached to the leaf into the soil mix. Place in a warm spot out of direct sunlight and mist every so often, but don’t overwater. They should root in a few weeks and can then be transplanted into their own pots.
A plant that needs almost no care is the Jade Plant, or as it’s botanically named, Crassula ovata. It looks like a small tree once mature with pretty clusters of pink and white star-shaped flowers that bloom on the ends of the branches. This decorative houseplant will live a lifetime with proper care.
To make new plants from Crassula ovata leaves, remove the leaves from a healthy mature plant and allow them to sit for a few days in a warm place to callus over the cut ends. This prevents root rot and encourages rooting. Fill a pot with slightly damp potting soil, take each leaf and lay it on the top of the soil horizontally. Cover the callused end of the leaf with a little soil and place the container in bright indirect sunlight.
Don’t water yet – wait for a few weeks until the little roots are secure in the soil. Give it a gentle tug to check the rooting after 2 weeks. If they are secure, water well so that the roots start moving downwards in the soil and become established. Let the soil dry out and water again. Keep this up until the plants are looking good and ready for their own containers.
Out of all the 500 or so species of Hoya, the Sweetheart Hoya is perhaps the most popular for its big juicy heart-shaped leaves. These tropical vines are easy to grow and care for, becoming a very popular houseplant – especially around Valentine’s Day.
They are not fussy, needing bright light, a little water and well-draining soil to thrive. They will only bloom when they are 3-4 years old, but when they do it’s quite a special moment. The balls of furry star-shaped flowers are truly special.
Single leaf propagation is doable with these plants and they look best when grown in small pots. However, due to the slow growth of these plants and the fact that leaf cuttings do not have a node, they will more than likely not grow into a full vine. Growing a single leaf as a decorative feature or gift is still a fun experiment, but if you want it to grow into a full plant, propagate by stem cuttings instead.
To make the single leaf cuttings, fill a container with moist potting mix mixed with a little perlite to improve drainage. Cut the leaves off a healthy plant with as much stem as you can manage. Let the leaves sit out in a dry place for 2-3 days so the ends callus. Pot them into the soil vertically so the surface of the leaf does not sit on the soil.
The cuttings should root in 2-3 weeks. Choose single containers to grow these rather than a large pot for many leaves as they will stay in their small pots for a long time.
Chinese Money Plant
Pilea peperomioides, also known as the Chinese Money Plant or Pancake Plant, has the most attractive round leaves – almost like a water lily leaf without the need for water. This succulent plant is grown for its foliage.
Although it does also flower in spring, it’s unlikely to flower indoors. All it needs to flourish is a bright light, occasional watering and some light feeding in the growing season of spring and summer. The leaves tend to move towards the lights so it’s best to rotate the plant often to keep its symmetrical shape.
This Pilea can be propagated from offshoots that grow from the roots or from leaves. For the leaves to grow into full plants, you need to take a bit of the main trunk as well as the leaf to get it right. Use a sharp knife and follow the leaf down to the trunk. Take a small slice of the trunk – not too much, you don’t want to damage the main plant – and root in water. Place the base of the stalk in the water and not the leaf.
Change the water at least once a week, gently working around the vulnerable new roots as they will be fragile at this stage. Place in a bright area out of direct sunlight and within a month or two new plantlets will form at the base of the stalk which can then be planted up in a pot of its own.
Growing Echeveria indoors can be tricky because they will insist on a full day of sunlight to perform well. A lack of sunlight will cause them to become leggy and lackluster. If you have a spot like a sunroom or a conservatory with tons of direct sun they are rewarding plants to grow.
Sought after for their rosettes of leaves and flower stalks that grow from the center of the plant, they produce dainty flowers in a variety of colors from white, pink, yellow, orange and red.
Propagating Echeveria is incredibly easy. Take a sharp knife and cut the low leaves off a healthy plant at the stem. Lay the leaves on a sheet of newspaper and keep in a cool place for a few weeks. The cut end of the leaves will produce little clusters of leaves that become new plants. Once the roots appear, they can be planted in pots to grow into bigger plants.
One of the most popular sedums that cascade over a pot, Burro’s Tail (Sedum morganianum) is named for its resemblance to a donkey’s tail. It has thick vines of tightly packed succulent leaves that have a light green to grey look.
These fleshly stems need plenty of light and soil that has good drainage specially formulated for cacti and succulents. They need little watering and can survive periods of drought but need lightly moist soil when they are young.
Burro’s Tail is easy to propagate from stems or leaves. Simply pick a few leaves off a tail and place them on top of a prepared pot of soil. Use a cacti or succulent soil mix or make your own using potting soil mixed with added coarse sand and perlite or coconut coir.
The soil mix should be moist before placing the leaves. Place in a brightly lit area that is warm but out of direct sunlight and don’t water again until the soil is dry. After a few days you should see little shoots. When the shoots are about half an inch long (usually after around 2 weeks), they can be planted in individual pots.
The cascading nature of Plectranthus australis makes it ideal for hanging baskets. Its common name Swedish Ivy is a bit of a misnomer in that it’s not from the ivy (Hedera) family of plants, nor is it originally from Sweden.
The Swedes did make it popular though, hence its name. It’s known for its foliage which also comes in a variegated form and it does flower with white or lavender colored flowers in late spring and early summer. It just needs indirect light, moist soil and a bit of feeding during the growing season.
Propagating any Plectranthus is simple as they grow easily from leaf cuttings. Cut a leaf off a healthy plant with a node attached. This can be popped into a glass jar with water or planted into damp potting soil to root. If using soil, place the cuttings in a warm spot covered with a plastic bag to keep in the moisture. After 2-3 weeks roots should have formed and the plants can be potted into their own pots.
Also known as the Miracle Leaf due to its many uses in traditional medicine, Bryophyllum pinnatum belongs to the Crassulaceae family and hails from Madagascar. This perennial succulent has thick fleshy leaves with a scalloped edge border. It also produces flowers that form on long stems like upside-down bells in a gradient from reddish pink to lime green.
Like all succulents, this popular indoor plant requires lots of bright light, minimum watering and grows best in a specialized cactus soil mix. It will do well with a balanced fertilizer every 3 -4 months.
To propagate, cut off single leaves close to the stem and pack them into a pot filled with potting mix. Within a few months, the leaves will take root, ready to be moved into individual pots. Some of these plants may produce little buds on the edges of the leaves.
Each of these tiny buds has the potential to become a new plant. Brush them off onto a tray filled with damp potting mix and place them in a warm position to grow.
Named for its bright pink and red blooms on the end of segmented leaf stems that appear from November through to February, the Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera x buckleyi) is not a typical cactus that grows in hot dry climates, but is a tropical rainforest epiphytic succulent originating from Brazil.
This plant needs regular watering unlike the typical cacti, and also needs good soil drainage. Remembering where they come from, give them bright but not direct light, warmth and humidity to thrive.
Propagate Christmas Cactus after they have finished flowering by leaf segment cuttings. In the fall, they can also be grown from seed carried in the red fruits. Cut sections of the leaf with 3-5 segments and leave them in a cool, dry place to form calluses on the ends.
Fill a pot with damp commercial cacti mix or potting soil with added coarse sand or coconut coir. Push each cutting into the soil to about an inch deep. Cover with a plastic bag and wait 2-3 weeks for the roots to develop and you should be able to see new growth. They can then be moved to new containers.
There are over 500 named species of aloes and many more hybrids and cultivars that are grown in gardens. A few, like Aloe vera, are often grown indoors as houseplants. Given plenty of sunlight and some respite from the direct rays, these plants can thrive in your home. Dont water too much and allow it to dry out between watering to avoid root rot that Aloes are prone to.
Propagating aloes from leaves is not always successful as it takes a lot of work for individual leaves to produce roots. It can work, but more often than not the leaves will just rot away and not produce any roots. The leaves are juicy and need to be dried out for about 4 weeks or longer before attempting to plant and grow roots.
Take a cutting of a leaf at least 4 inches long with a sharp clean knife at an angle. Leave the cuttings to callus over the cut end before planting in moist cacti mix or sandy potting soil to a third of the length of the leaf. Place in a warm sunny spot and water carefully, making sure not to overdo it. The plant should root in a few weeks. Alternatively, grow new plants from offsets or ‘pups’ that grow next to mature plants.
Haworthias are identified by the fleshy, spiky leaves in a rosette form and from the white bumpy zebra stripes drawn across their leaves. These popular indoor succulents are easy to care for – simply give them plenty of indirect sunlight, don’t overwater and keep them warm (not below 40F).
The best time to propagate Haworthias is in spring or summer. It’s faster to propagate from offshoots, but they can also grow successfully from individual leaves. Use a healthy young leaf rather than the older leaves at the base of the plant for the best results.
Cut the leaf off with a sharp clean knife and place in a cool place for a few days. Plant in a pot filled with moist cactus potting mix or potting soil with coarse sand and coconut coir added, keeping the cuttings upright. Place in a warm spot and wait 2-3 weeks for the leaves to make roots before replanting in seperate pots.
Stonecrops are Sedum species that come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and forms – all succulent in nature that is useful plants in the garden or indoors. They all have a rosette form but can also be spiky or trailing with a shallow roots system. Grown in sunny spots near windows or on balconies, they prefer rich well-draining soil and minimum watering.
Sedums are one of the easiest plants to propagate. Simply pull off a few leaves and place them on a tray filled with damp sandy soil. In a couple of weeks, the leaves will start to root and they can be packed into new pots ready to grow on. Keep in a warm spot out of direct sunlight. The young plants should be watered every few days, but after that, they need little water to thrive.
If you’re looking to make more of your favorite plants, try propagating from leaves. It may take slightly longer, but considering the little effort and time it takes, this process is well worth it. Any of the plants on this list will grow from a single cutting, if given the proper time, and proper care.