African Violets Another
Way To Successfully Grow African Violets
Growing African Violets the tradional way is
quite alright, but I have found another way that I personally have a lot of success with.
let's talk about the traditonal pot. Many of you are aware of, or are users of, specially designed AF pots that
are of a two piece design with a porous top pot that slips inside of a bottom basin pot. Another pot is a pot that
you would use for most any plant which has holes in the bottom to allow for drainage.
So, what other way is
there? A pot that has no drainage! You can use an array of pretty bowls that will do just fine and a variety of other containers! You still want
to not put a violet in too big of a container. They like to have a nice cozy fit inside their home. You can select
from bowls and even larger mugs that have matching saucers! The key to using pots or containers that don't have
drainage is to NOT overwater them! You may find you have to water less than you are use to having to water them
and that might actally be a plus for your busy or (like mine) forgetful life.
Watering Your Violets:
Now that you
know you can use a pot that has no drainage you will now learn a really neat watering system that violets love.
Do you hand-wash dishes? If so, take that water while it is warm and dip your sponge or dishrag in the water with
one hand and grab your African Violet in it's pot in the other. Now squeeze the water all over the top of the violet,
leaves and all. They'll love the bath! If your violet is pretty dry, a second squeeze of dish water should do the trick. You shouldn't need to water more
than two squeezes. Set them back in their happy spot until they need watered again. You can use a
moisture meter if you are unsure if the plant is dry or wet. Once you use it a few times you will find yourself not
using it anymore because you'll be accustomed to what the weight of the pot and the look of the soil are indicating they need watered.
A note about bottom watering: The reason you may be use to watering from the bottom is so you won't get COLD water on the leaves which causes damage to the them. Also it provides you a way of allowing your plants to drink up the right amount of water letting you discard what they don't drink up. It is not necessary though if you water according to the dishwater squeeze method. Basically, because you are not overwatering and you are using tepid (lukewarm) water.
Always provide your violet with ample light. You may have to play around with it to find the
right spot or
the right technique for providing the right light. Remember plants like some darkness too so don't leave your plants
always under a light. They do not want direct sunlight. A window with an awning over it provides a nice light.
Diffuse the light away in some manner if there is direct sunlight or move the plant. Use a lamp to provide light
during the day but don't let the bulb be right on top of the plant.
Take underneath leaves from your plant sparlingly. If you have lots of plants, you'll have lots of
leaves. Use a container like what meat or deli foods come in with a plastic top that attaches to it, ideally, a square, plastic
clear container that cookies in from the deli are great too. Or you can buy pans like this. Just be sure to have a
clear top. Put African Violet soil in the bottom of the pan and fill to just under the top edge. Snip off the leaves
at the crown of the plant, close as you can get. Clip off the leaf
stem allowing about 1/2" to 1" of stem. Arrange leaves in rows in the soil, sticking them in one after another. You
don't need to allow much space at all between them. In fact the leaves will cover the stem of the other if laid flat.
You should stick them in with the leaf raised just a bit to almost straight up. Moisten the soil gently all over.
Put the plastic lid on and snap tightly. Put in a warm bright spot. Condensation will keep the stems watered for awhile.
Occasionally check the moisture in the soil and add water as needed. Use dish soap water as mentioned before. I use
an empty dish soap bottle to squirt the soil. Leave the stems alone until the new plants become strong enough, and
large enough to be moved to their own container. You will continue to water with a squirt bottle until the plants
are bigger (approx. the size of the top of the container). Then use the squeeze method with the dishrag.
Buying a new plant:
When you choose a violet you'll want to get one that has one center crown (growth nucleus)
and no more. If you buy one that has numerous crowns you will need to divide them and this can be tricky so if you
you are a novice, stick to plants with one crown. Chose a healthy looking plant that has no signs of trouble.
Pick up a bag of specially formulated African Violet potting soil while you are at it. You'll be needing to repot
that newbie soon after you bring it home. You'll also want to buy a container to transplant it into. Remember,
not too big! Think, cozy. Not tight, not too snug, just cozy. When you get your lovely new violet home, place
it with a saucer under it in the spot that it is to call home. Water according to prior directions and give it
loving care and lighting for two weeks to acclimate it to it's new conditions. Then gently remove it from it's pot
and carefully remove most of the soil from the bottom of it. Leave the roots close to the crown alone. You can take
that soil and mix it into the new bag of soil if you'd like or toss it out. I'm a frugal person so I don't throw
mine away unless it is problematic. Put some new soil almost to the top of the new container and make an
indentation of the plants root cluster to fit into. Then gently move or add soil around them and push firmly but
carefully down around the root cluster to tighten. Add more soil to bring up to just below the edge of the container.
If you have a soft brush, you can brush off the the dirt from the leaves or gently run under tepid water tipping the plant on it's side.
I really don't recommend you do that as you may loosen the roots and the soil though. After a few waterings the
leaves will be dirt free anyways. Water with the two squeeze method. Check again in a couple of days. When you put
a plant in a new location you do not know how quickly it will dry out so you need to check it every couple of days
to find out how often you'll need to care for it. I always put a saucer under my plants to catch runoff water from
the leaves and the top of the soil.
Pruning is very easy. Just remove leaves that are
not healthy as needed, snipping close to the base of the crown. Too many unhealthy leaves means something is wrong.
To prune out because the plant seems too heavy with leaves, prune from the bottom leaves, not the top.
The top leaves are new leaves.
Keep your violets as comfortable as you are. They don't like
extremes either! Be sure no air vent is blowing directly on them though. Even though you might enjoy it, it's not the
best thing for your plants.
If you have fallen in love with African Violets you will probably want more. You'll be amazed at how easily they will propagate. While some use the water method, I prefer to use the soil method. To gather your leaves from your plant. Use small sharp scissors and clip close to the crown. Choose leaves from the second or third row. You don't want them too big like the ones that may be on the outside of an older plant, nor do you want too new of leaves.
Once you've cut your leaves from the plant, cut the stem off to about 1/2". You'll want fresh African Violet Soil and a shallow container. Moisten the soil and insert the stem with just a tiny bit of leaf into the soil. Keep moist but not wet. To do more leaves at one time and read more information regarding this method, see this illustration: HERE
Well, as Forrest Gump would say..."That's about all I have to say about that". I hope you enjoy your violets as much as I do.