How to grow Begonia leaf cuttings

I love leafy begonias with their wonderful patterns, colours and shapes. In fact, I can’t have enough of them. The only drawback, that many aren’t hardy and simultaneously don’t like central heating in winter. My solution is to take leaf cuttings which is a fun and easy method of growing lots of begonias in miniature form through winter ready to plant up and grow en masse in spring.

Step one: pick healthy new leaves

Choose leaves that are relatively young on the plant as these are often the most vigorous, wanting to grow, and this is what you want from a leaf to propagate from.

Step two: grab some sterilised seed trays with lids

Step three: grab some peat free seed compost

Step four: fill trays to about 1.5cm – 2cm deep

Like so.

Step five: cut leaves into chunky strips or squares

Baby plants will appear where the veins are cut so aim to cut through as many of these as possible. It’s recommended to pin these down a bit for contact with the compost but I find this isn’t really needed unless the leaf is particularly curly wurly.

Step six: give em a light spritz of water to get some moisture in there

Note that normally you wouldn’t mist or spray begonia leaves for risk of mildew but in this instance you want to create a nice humid atmosphere for them.

Step seven: cover and place somewhere bright and warm

Check on them regularly, such as each week or every few days to make sure they don’t ever dry out – which they shouldn’t do if sealed properly. If they do look a little dry, give them a little spritz of water again but not too much. If you spot any sign of mould of dieback, remove that segment immediately to prevent spread.

As soon as you see baby plants growing, start to give them a little ventilation by opening the vents at the top. I leave the lids on until spring to keep them in an enclosed, humid environment like a mini greenhouse. Come spring, I take the lid off in the day for a week or two, putting it back on at night, then it’s a case of picking them out carefully without damaging the new roots and potting them into regular peat free compost.

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Jack Wallington

I'm an RHS qualified garden designer living in Clapham, London who loves growing plants and designing with them. Follow me on Twitter.

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2 thoughts on “How to grow Begonia leaf cuttings

    1. Peat is taken from peat bogs which are natural habitat, so bad for nature, they are also massive carbon stores and so it releases tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere. When there is perfectly good peat-free compost, it makes no sense to ever have used it.

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