July 24, 2006

Watering.... more important than you might think!

The Golden Rule to the Enjoyment of African violets is "Grow only the number you have time to care for." (Laurie's blog)

The Golden Rule to Healthy African violets is "Correct watering is the most important thing you can do for a healthy violet."

In my experience, I have found:
if your violets don't bloom, adjust the amount of light or how you
BUT, if your violets are dying, it is most likely you
need to correct your watering habits or methods.

We all know there are many ways to water our plants: wicking, bottom watering, top watering, self-watering pot, to name a few of the most popular. The method that is best for you will depend upon the conditions of your growing area (humidity, temperature, amount of light), soil mix, the amount of time you have to spend on your violets, and the number of plants you grow.

But half the fun of African violets is the learning, the experiences, and the things you learn!

For my house conditions, and my habits, I have developed some general things which work well for my plants, IF I do them.

I do 3 things to make sure my violets are watered correctly:

1) I use the same soil mix in all my plants: mama leaves, babies, large plants, and even my other houseplants.
2) I use pots of certain sizes for certain sizes of plants:

* Any violet plant that is rapidly putting out new blooms or new roots is planted in a pot that allows 'toe room'. This means that starter plants that have begun to really grow up fast are given a pot that allows space for roots to fill, and larger mature plants also need a bit of extra soil to hold water between watering days.
* Any violet plant that is slowly growing or has a small root system is planted in a pot that 'pinches toes'. This means that tiny babies are transplanted in small pots. Slow growing varieties, weak or ill plants also need small pots. Small pots on these plants mean there is not extra soil to hold more moisture than the weak root systems can use.

3) I water all my plants on the same day! (By watering on the same day, I don't mean on the same day every week, although I often do water on Mondays. That isn't what I meant.)
When I do water, whatever that day is, I water ALL my violets. I have found that if I set aside a tray of babies or several pots to 'water tomorrow', I may forget them and they go without water until their wilting catches my attention. If I do remember them several days later, these trays or pots will be 'out of schedule' and will not need watering when the rest of the plants do, and next week I will have two watering days.)

I have found that if I do the first two things, the third is easy to do. If I use the same soil mix in all my plants, and use a correct size of pot for each type of plant, I can water everything all at once... and every plant is happy!

If a plant gets thirsty before the rest of the plants on a shelf, or in a tray... it needs potting up into a larger pot. If a plant is still moist when everything else is ready for water, it is probably in a pot that is too large.

Every time I try to 'compromise' on these three things, I have problems! If I follow them, and water at least once a week in the summer, my violets are happy!
1) I use the same soil mix in all my plants.
2) I use pots of certain sizes for certain sizes of plants.
3) I water all my plants on the same day!

July 21, 2006

AV Culture Schedule

Here is the AV Culture Schedule I have been using for about 6 years:
AV Culture Schedule (to print)
I have found this really works for me! The list reminds me of what I have to do... and keeps me on schedule as I can see what I have fallen behind.

Must be something about adding a check mark when it is done, and having that blank space staring at me when the job isn't done!!!!!

July 11, 2006

2006 Inventory Lists, record sheets and Culling Scorecard

I am posting updated INVENTORY LISTS of varieties I am growing:
I have found these 'record sheets' helpful....
And I have so much trouble getting rid of any AV, I made myself a
form that helps me ADMIT that I could live without a certain AV variety!!!!
I have a 'AV Care Schedule' that is not in a pdf file yet... I have been photo copying new sheets each month. I hope to redo it and will upload it as a pdf file.

July 10, 2006

Is My AV Pest BIGGER Than Your Pest?

     What is the 'biggest' pest to attack your African violets?  I don't mean the pest that was the biggest headache to eradicate.  I'm talking about the physical SIZE of the pest!
     About 6 weeks ago, I received an AV order that had thrips.  I cut down the plants into leaves and crowns... then isolated them in a 'room' in our barn.  The tray was covered with a dome and placed out of direct sunlight near a window.
     At 3 weeks, the leaves looked fine.  At 4 weeks, we needed the 'room' for the goats and I moved the violet tray to a small straw loft.  This was not the best place for African violets; the temperatures rose to the high 90's, and the strong late afternoon sun hit the tray.  Over the next few days a few leaves rotted, and the three crowns lost all their leaves to rot.
     Last week, I was happy to see that 14 of the original 21 leaves were alive!  I noticed a bit of white, fuzzy mold on two leaves.   Because the leaves all appeared to have developed roots, I took the dome off for the night.  The next morning, the mold was gone so I replaced the dome.
      Then last night, I noticed a little bit of the mold had returned, so I took off the dome.
       This morning, I found only 5 leaves standing upright!  The rest of leaves were torn, chewed, and scattered around the tray. MICE!!!!
       Rodents are to be expected in barns and farm outbuildings and I worried about this pest.  At first, I placed the leaf tray above the ground, to avoid tempting the mice.  The straw loft was probably asking for troubles, but it seemed the best place in the barn, filled with goats, cows, a calf, cats, setting hens, and whatever needed shelter from heat, rain, or mosquitoes!
        After nothing happened the first time I removed the protection of the dome, I thought Montana mice don't like houseplants!  I guess I was wrong!
        A mouse is the biggest pest I have had attack my violets.  What has been YOUR biggest pest?
( For updates on how the 'isolated leaves' are doing, read
Fear, Paranoia? I hope this makes you think! )