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How to Propagate a Begonia Like A Pro Gardener

How to Propagate a Begonia Like A Pro Gardener

Have you ever been at someone’s home only to have your breath stolen by the sight of the most beautiful begonia you’ve ever laid eyes on? 

I’ve been there, and my first comment is usually, “Please, may I take some for a cutting?”

Yep, I discovered quickly in my plant collecting days how to propagate a begonia, and you can too.


How to Propagate a Begonia

There are two ways to grow begonias from cuttings. You can either place the cuttings in a glass of water or in an appropriate potting mix with enough water in a warm place to take root. You can also use either the leaves or the topmost horizontal roots as cutting to get a new baby begonia. 


Propagating a Begonia From a Leaf

Propagating, for those who don’t know, is when you let a part of a parent plant sprout roots and grow a second baby plant.

It’s a form of reproduction we use to help us grow more plants without having to germinate seeds.

I just love it, and it’s allowed me to collect and grow some amazing begonias from cuttings I’ve begged off friends’ plants, and even from the casually collected leaf or three.

To start with, decide how many cuttings you require. One leaf, depending on its size, can create many cuttings. 

A cutting is a small square section that I cut with a sharp blade or razor from a leaf.

Simply lay the leaf flat and carefully cut square sections that are at least half an inch in size and ensure each cutting has several veins as this is where the roots will sprout from.

If I am only making one or two new plants, I can also choose to use a whole leaf to grow a new plant with propagation.

I leave about an inch of the leaf stalk or petiole attached to the leaves I choose for propagation. The new roots will form from these.


What to Do With a Cutting

Once you’ve got a couple of cuttings or a leaf or two you want to let root, you can place the leaves in a glass baby food jar with water.

I prefer to use mineral water to avoid any harsh metals that may be in regular tap water. Place the petiole into the water, with the leaf sticking out.

The square cuttings I place face down onto a tray of sterile potting medium made from equal parts perlite, peat moss, and vermiculite.

The tray is placed into a clear plastic bag, sprayed with water, and placed in a warm but out-of-the-sun place. The glass container with whole leaves can also be placed in the same spot.

I keep checking on the tray and glass containers every few days, ensuring the potting medium is moist, but not wet.


Propagating Roots Instead of Leaves

In some instances, often when the original parent plant has suffered some kind of damage, it may be the only way to preserve the plant to propagate a root section. This mostly works with rhizomatous begonias.

These are the ones that make beautiful bushes of deep green leaves. If such a begonia has been burned or accidentally chopped by your neighbor’s weed-eater, you can regrow a new plant by taking a section of the horizontal roots for propagation.

Simply place the root in a glass baby food jar, letting part of the root sit out of the bottle and the other part rest in the water.

You can also place the root sections on a bed of sterile potting medium, spray with water, and place it in a plastic packet in a warm area.


Propagation Speed

Whether leaf or root propagation is being used, you should see some root growth as soon as three to four weeks. The roots are usually thin and almost hairy in the beginning.

Over the next couple of weeks, these will thicken and become viable to nourish your new begonia plants.

I usually work off feel, but you will have a viable plantlet or new baby begonia within six to eight weeks that you can then transplant into a small potting container.

Avoid planting a new baby begonia into a large container as this is not suited to their root growth. A small size container, similar in size to the actual baby begonia’s size, is best.


Frequently Asked Questions About How to Propagate A Begonia


Can you root a begonia in water?

Begonia cuttings or leaves easily sprout roots with the process of propagation in water. Simply place the leaf petiole into the water in a glass container such as a baby food jar or a small glass. Within three to four weeks, you should see roots growing into the water.


Can you propagate a begonia from a leaf?

Begonias can be propagated from whole leaves and from leaf cuttings that are placed in water. Leaf cuttings should have several veins to encourage root formation, while whole leaves should have at least a half-inch of petiole left to place into water. You can also propagate a begonia from a root cutting, but this method works best for foliage-type begonias.


How long will begonia cuttings root?

When you’ve created the ideal conditions for your begonias to propagate and grow roots in, you should see root growth within three to four weeks, while hardy new plants are mature enough in six to eight weeks to be transplanted into their own pots.


Happy Propagating!

While growing a begonia from seed to mature plant is possible, there is something incredibly satisfying to me when it comes to propagating my own begonias from cuttings or leaves.

You will also feel the thrill when you watch those little roots start to form and you whisper: “Grow, grow!”