African Violet Propagation is Prohibited. Here’s what that means for you.

Is African Violet propagation prohibited? In short, yes. Although it might seem strange that you are prohibited from propagating African violets, it is indeed illegal to do so.  While authorities are unlikely to knock down your door for personal use propagation, plant nurseries have been known to sue individuals selling plants protected by a patent. The African Violet plant has been patented and many varieties of the plant are still legally protected by those patents.

The African Violet is a stunning flower blooming plant, and if you have any at home or are considering buying some it’s always a good idea to know a little bit more about the plant. Here we will explain to you what propagation actually is, why propagating the African violet is illegal and what prohibited propagation actually means.

Our African Violet Series

What is propagation?

Plant propagation is the process of creating new plants in agriculture. When you propagate a plant you are essentially cloning the original plant and creating a new one. This can be done through two methods. The first method is seed propagation and the second is vegetative propagation.

Seed propagation occurs by simply planting your seeds in a small pot plant and replanting them into the soil once your seedlings have sprouted. It is the most common way to grow plants, and unlike vegetative propagation, the new plant will have a different set of DNA from the mother plant.

When it comes to African violets, most people will use vegetative propagation. This method can be done by either cutting your plant’s stem or using the plant’s leaf to grow another one. You can propagate a plant hydroponically or you can use soil. This method is considered to be an asexual way of reproducing a plant. Propagating the African violet is fairly easy to do, even for beginner gardeners however, you might want to think twice before you do so!

Why African Violet Propagation is Prohibited

Regulation set by The Plant Patent Act of 1930 allowed plants to be patented. Propagating African violets is prohibited due to the existing patent for African Violets. Patents protect a person’s intellectual property by making it illegal to copy and reproduce the product, or in this case, the plant.

When a person has made a new discovery or has created a new species of a plant they are able to apply for a patent over that plant. This patent Is legally valid for 20 years and might be extended upon the request of the inventor.

The reason that African violets have been patented is to protect the inventor of the plant. The inventor of the African violet has a financial interest in their invention and is financially incentivized by it. It is only fair to allow the inventor of the African violet to financially benefit and make a profit from their invention. After all, it does take a lot of time, energy, and knowledge to be able to craft and create a new species of a plant.

What does prohibited propagation mean?

So what exactly does it mean when someone says propagation of a plant is prohibited? Well, it means you can’t propagate it! It is against the law to try to clone your African Violet and you could find yourself into a bit of trouble if you try to! In fact, many stores or gardening centers that are allowed to sell these beautiful plants will make you sign a document stating that you won’t propagate the plant. if you do happen to disregard this document and start propagating African Violets it can amount to an infringement and the owner of the patent will be able to take legal action against you.

That said, it is highly unlikely for the police to bust into your house and check to see what plants you are growing. However, if you are looking to sell African Violets, or own a nursery — it is best to be on the safer side and look into getting a license to propagate your African violets.

If you do own a nursery or sell African Violets online, it is not uncommon for investigators to pop in and check that you aren’t breaking any rules by illegally propagating African violets or any other patented plants.  

When is a plant eligible for a patent?

Most plants are not eligible for a patent, and there are specific requirements that must be met for an application for a patent to be accepted. Plants that grow naturally in the wild or have a valid function such as many fruits and vegetables cannot be patented. Many of these plants are considered to be of nature and it would be bizarre to give ownership to someone over something that naturally grows!

In order to apply for a patent over your plant, and have the patent accepted and legally enforceable, it must be a plant that has been asexually reproduced. The plant must be considered an invention and once again it would be crazy to say that the average plant’s seed is an invention rather than a simple product of nature.

The plant must either be discovered in a cultivated area or must be crafted by the inventor. This means that the plant must be created through either cuttings, graftings, or layering. Plants that have been formed in this way can be considered an original invention. Once again this means that the plant must not be one that just naturally grows in the wild!

The next requirement is a novelty. This means that the plant must not be known to the public prior to the date of applying for a patent. You can’t have a patent over something that is already well known to the public and is currently being used by the public. It must be a new invention!

Lastly, the plant must be distinctive. This means that the plant must have certain characteristics that are distinguishable from other existing plants.   

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if the plant I buy is patented?

When buying a plant, a patented plant will have “PP” or “PPAF” on the tags. This indicates there is an active patent on that plant and propagation is prohibited.