December 30, 2012

Time to order Seed Catalogs....

.. and watch the African violet vendor websites for announcements of 2013 plant lists!!!!!
Yippee!    Thoughts of green grass, garden flowers, and fresh salads help us deal with piles of snow and cold winds!

December 19, 2012

My new Violet Corner -- unfinished

My new violet corner is not finished... not by a long way, but I just had to take a photo!  :)
I have 178 individual African violet plants, and 18 strep plants.
Approx. 65 are my 'personal collection' plants, with the rest as duplicate plants to either sell or give away.
I have about 1/3 of my plants potted up, and all the extras are potted up into at least 3 inch pots.  If I can finish repotting my personal plants, I will be all ready to begin transplanting babies from mama leaves.
Oh, yeah.... I have 140+ leaves set.  :)
Now to compare my AVs from October to my AVs now.
Below, is a photo of my personal collection of plants... the ones I am keeping for myself, taken in October when they were on two shelves on my bathroom stand.
Two months later, here they are on the stand in my new violet corner:
Here are the extras and for sale ones in the porch:
The streps and a few young av rooted suckers in the bedroom:
Last, the stand in the bathroom has the most recently planted leaves, foliage plants, and etc.:

December 17, 2012

Mildew Rears It's Ugly Head!

Okay... I've finally admitted I have to TREAT powdery mildew!!!  For the past two weeks, since we started the wood stove and the house temps have changed, I have been noticing a few blossom stalks on larger plants on one stand had mildew on the stems and some on the petals.  I DID NOT find any mildew on the other stand in a different area!  :) 
     So, I began TREATMENT with the only true first step:  PREVENTION!  I took off all stalks with open blossoms... and moved the plants to a better area!  The temps in the new area don't drop so low at night, and the difference between night and day temps is not so large.  This new area is one side of our living room, and we walk by the violets many times every day, creating a little 'stirring' of the air.
     That was two weeks ago, and I have not seen any sign of mildew  I will keep a close watch but I expect not to have much problem.
     The original shelves where the mildew developed are in the bathroom.  It is a large bathroom, and we do run a fan for several hours a day, and there is not high humidity.  The problem is that it is an 'isolated' room, on the outside wall, and several rooms away from the wood stove.  When the wood stove is stoked and working, the main furnace does not run, and yet the heat from the wood stove does not warm the bathroom.  We use a small heater/fan for those times we use the shower, so the daytime temps aren't too bad, about 66-72 degrees.  But the night temps often drop to 60 degrees.
     Today, I noticed the oldest tray of mama leaves had a well-advanced case of MILDEW!!   Yuk! I was checking on them nearly every day, but they were growing at the pace that a watched pot boils!  So, I decided to let them be for a few days.  So, I missed the first signs, if it came slowly.  It could have developed in the last week, since I watered them a week ago, but I didn't look too closely!
     I did a quick check on the new stand, and the large plants were free.  I looked over the stand that has the 'extras' and for sale plants.  They are in a good environment similar to the new stands,and I have been misting the area with Lysol spray, just to keep the selling plants clean.  It seems to have done a good job.
     But those propagating leaves were horrid, and needed quick help.  I did some research in the violet books, and Nancy's book, etc.  I decided not to rely on the Neem Oil as it seemed it worked best for prevention.  I didn't have the stronger chemicals... so went to work with what I had.
     I have had good results with simply washing the mildew off on a very regular basis, keeping the shelves and area clean, the Lysol spray, and improving the growing environment.  So, I mixed a milk/water/clove oil solution, and began to brush it THOROUGHLY over all the mama leaf surfaces.  I did not brush the baby leaves... except those in the front three pots in the photo below.  Just for an experiment!  :)
     I mean I REALLY COVERED and saturated the leaf surfaces,  It wasn't easy, as the hairy leaves, and the mildew itself seemed to shed the solution.  I did remove some leaf tips, and some mama leaves completely, if the babies were large and looked sturdy.
     I did find one medium plant with some mildew on the blossom stalks and one leaf.  So, I completely covered it.
     The leaves and plant  dried very quickly as I did the work very close to the wood stove and the fan on the stove does move air!  I left the leaves and plant in the kitchen for the rest of the day, and will place them in a place that has more even temperatures and good air circulation.
    Tomorrow, I will wash and spray the bathroom shelves and give everything a light misting just to keep them safe.  Plus, I will double check day/night temps, and make sure it isn't the best mildew environment.
     Here are photos:
Here are the leaves and plant after treatment. 
The solution was mixed as:
  • 16 tablespoons of warm water
  • 4 tablespoons of milk (whole, raw)
  • 16 shaken drops of clove oil (essential homopathic oil, not culinary)

December 6, 2012

Experiment # 4 -- Soil Mix Additions

Experiment #4 is a Soil Mix Additions Comparison.  I chose three small plants of Optimara Bora Bora. All plastic pots to be bottom watered with saucer.

The middle pot has my regular mix of 1 1/2 parts peat moss, 1 part vermiculite, 1 part perlite. The bottom pot has 1/2 my potting mix and 1/2 soil (loam). The top pot has my potting mix with 1/4 part of Happy Frog Soil Conditioner.
The amount of the soil conditioner is not much, but it tested a bit high in ph, and it's purpose was to add just a bit of soil microbe activity, which since I am using 'artificial' mineral fertilizers instead of ones with organic source origins, I really don't know if this all matters!  :)   But I fell in love with the romance of the idea of all the yummy sounding ingredients in the soil conditioner.  It was the only bag of 'peat moss type thing' at the hardware store, so it kept focusing my attention back on it!  Gullible consumer that I am!

Experiment # 3 -- Grow To Show Comparison

Experiment # 3 will be two plants of Optimara Trinidad growing side by side... one will be on a Grow To Show fertilizing/disbudding/lighting schedule, and the other will be allowed to grow and bloom as it wishes.  These two plants had some problems with my acidic rain water, and I also noticed they are growing a bit too 'open and loose' for what I expected.  I think they were grown too warm????!!!  And have moved them, when I put the show plant on it's special schedule yesterday.
Both were potted up into a very slightly larger pot with fresh mix, and are on my self-made felt self waterers.  I found these waterers made caring for show plants, especially as they grew larger, much easier.

Experiment # 2 -- Watering Methods

Experiment #2 is a Watering Methods Comparison: Four plants of no-name double pink (supposed to be Saint Paul, and looks to be some other unknown Harrington variety), all planted in my usual mix of 1 1/2 parts peat moss, 1 part vermiculite, 1 part perlite.
The top left is planted in a plastic pot, and will be watered from the bottom. The top right plant is potted true Texas Style, and will be watered with 'Visual Replacement', ie: when the water level in saucer is gone, slight 1/4 to 1/2 inch will be added.
Bottom left is on a self-water that I made, with felt as the 'wick'. Bottom right is also potted in my usual mix, with a piece of acrylic yarn through the pot and into the watering reservoir.
NOTE:  I did not change my 'usual soil recipe' to use with the acrylic wick!  ?????

Experiment # 1a and #1b -- Soil versus Soil-less

Comparing two methods of pot/soil combinations:  the old-fashioned ( and my mom's much preferred) method of good soil (loam) in a clay pot  -- versus --  the modern ( and my usual) method of soil-less medium in a plastic pot.  Both will be bottom watered with a bowl.
Experiment #1a :    Two large plants are Amethyst, which is one of the Original Ten African violet varieties introduced in 1957, which I thought proper to use in an 'old-fashioned' experiment! 
Experiment #1b:     Three small plants of Ness' Cranberry Lace, with the third pot in upper left containing Miracle Gro African Violet Potting Mix.

I used 'garden dirt' rather than the good virgin soil that my mom recommends, simply for the fact that it is not a good time to go exploring for gopher mounds in virgin pastures!  If the ground isn't covered by ice, it is sloppy muddy, and mostly frozen.  So, I used a bit of the soil I have saved in a bucket for use in the spring while potting up veggie transplants.  It is good soil, with good structure, but may include some pathogens, etc. and of course may be lower in fertility and humus content because it was 'used' this summer.

The soil-less mix is my usual 1 1/2 part peat moss, 1 part vermiculite, 1 part perlite.

I had bought the bag of Miracle Gro AV mix for the house plant class, and decided to give it a test!

December 4, 2012

Look at the new kids!

Just a few words to say:   I have new kids!  No, I didn't adopt little boys.  We got two little doeling goats!  :)  Actually, they were born to one of my does, and my sisterinlaw took them to feed.  I got them back last week!
Here we are this morning:

Here is the newspaper article when they and their brother went to visit the Senior Center at a day of age!

December 2, 2012

Water --- now it's okay!

It rained this week!  And I filled jugs for houseplant watering... after testing the ph and TDS.  The ph was 7 and the TDS was 67.  I am back in business!  :)

I have been watering my violets with distilled water and no fertilizer.  So far, every plant has been watered twice with distilled water.  I will water one more time and then flush the pots of all my 'mature mamas' and repot all the starters and small babies.  They are ready to be potted up and this will fit in with my 'remedial' soil training!  :)

I had a busy week , with the houseplant class, getting our food co-op delivery, buying and trading goats, getting canaries, displaying my art at the local library, moving cows from summer pasture, having snow storms, selling violets, etc.  etc.  AND I have not yet repotted the 'ph affected' violets.
Their symptoms have not worsened, and they look like they are doing fine, while they wait for me!

This week is somewhat 'less crowded'.... we are taking several work-related road trips, and will be weaning the calves (taking them away from the cows), and will be picking up the artwork, plus hosting the last night of class.

November 25, 2012

Interesting Water and Soil Tests -- Updated

I received the TDS meter today, so began to test various waters and combos with soil:
(P.S. by the way, the federal standards for safe human drinking water is no more than 400 ppm TDS)
UPDATED test list

source of water                            ph                    TDS


Mom's spring water                       7.5                 411 ppm
our well water                               7.5               1466 ppm
our well water after Berkley filter    7.5               1466 ppm

rain water in October                    6.5                 109 ppm
rain water in November                  4                    84 ppm
yet to test:
Harlem city water
Dodson city water
bottled spring water
bottled distilled water


In October:
1 cup distilled water (7 ph)
ran two times through 4 inch pot of
freshly mixed soil                        5.5                did not test

In November:
1 cup of Mom's water (7.5 ph)
ran two times through 4 inch pot of
> potting mix                                5                  did not test
> Splendiferous plant displaying symptoms
                                                  4 or lower        751 ppm

tests comparing soil ingredients and mixes:

1 cup Mom's water (7.5 ph)
ran two times through 4 inch pot of

Miracle Gro AV Soil                  4
Glacier Gold Compost                5
my potting mix                            6
a plant from my friend (different mix) 4

November rain water (4 ph) with
1/4 strength Jack's Classic 20-20-20
                                                  5                   did not test

Mom's spring water (7.5 ph) with
Neptune's Harvest
> very dilute Liquid Seaweed 0-0.1-1
                                               7 or 7.5            did not test
> very dilute Fish Fertilizer 2-4-1
                                               4 or lower         did not test
powdered super phosphate      3.5

Jack's Classic 20-20-20          6.5
Schultz AV                              6.5
Dyna Gro 7-9-5                      4.5
Dyna Bloom 3-12-6                3.5
AlgoFlash 7-9-5                       4

concentrated WA solution:
1 tsp cottonwood ash per 8 oz. mom's spring water (7.5 ph)
ph tested way off the chart so not included because I couldn't
figure accurately.

November rain water (4 ph) with
> 1 TB WA solution per 4 oz.      7.5
> 1 TB + 2 tsp  per 4 oz.             10. + very purple (past blue?)

Poured 1 cup of 1 TB WA per 4 oz.
over 4 inch pot of potting mix      6.5

wood ash test below (Note the test tube is purple... but not the 'red' on the acid end of the color chart, but blue-purple of the other end, or off the other end!)

I did the wood ash tests after reading all I could find in 'modern' books and online about adjusting soil ph in pots and while mixing soil.  All mentioned limestone, lime, etc.   Brief mentions of wood ash were included as part of an 'etc.' listing.  I didn't have any lime, and am not going to town.  So, I decided to read the old AV and gardening books, and came up with the above concentrate solution that was used for outdoor use.  I will test the concentrate Wood Ash solution in a day or two and see how it changes.

I was surprised at the very acidic ph of the mixed fish fertilizer!  Good thing I tested it! 
Now I am wondering about the other fertilizers that I take for granted!  When I have lots of  'good' water, I have more testing to do!  (My bottle of test solution was for 'indefinite tests, ample for typical gardener'! Do you think I am typical???)

I just tested the other fertilizers I have used or plan on using on my violets.  I was surprised at the acid effect of the two Dyna formulas.  Also the AlgoFlash which is the fertilizer I used on my greenhouse plants this past spring.

I will get 'good' water in a day or two.  In the meantime, I have one gallon of the October rainwater that tests with an okay ph.  If any violet needs watering in the next day or two, I will have that.

I found three violets, including the Splendiferous, that show symptoms of limp, yellowing or dying older leaves, with some possible root damage (ie:  soil mix in pot staying damp longer than normal)  These three are blooming fine, but overall plant vigor is slowing, leaf and blossom stems are stiff and darker colored, backs of leaves showing some degree of purple coloring, and center young leaves are very slightly twisted and tight.

These three plants will get 'flushed' with Mom's spring water and a small amount of the Wood Ash concentrate.  I will pour the water through the pot.  Then I will set the pots on a bath towel, which seems to always soak lots of water from the pot.

Before and after photos will be taken, I hope!  :)

November 24, 2012

I Hear Singing Again!

I woke this morning to canaries singing again!  It was nice!!!
I haven't posted about my canaries for the past year... as there was only bad news to report!
Remember I bought canaries December 2010.  2011 was fun, with lots of nesting, babies, and many cages of birds!  I sold and gave away some, and saved several of my favorites.  Summer of 2011 I had 8 birds.
Then they began to die.  First ones to go were the two older ones, which didn't worry me much.  They were given to me as older birds.  Then I lost the white male my mother had raised.  He was less than 8 months old!  Next went another young male I had raised, also less than 8 months old.  Next one of the hens I bought, and she was just two years old.  Well, I still had one male and two hens.
I did some reading, and couldn't find what I may have been doing wrong.  They did not get sick before they died; just suddenly got weak and died in about two hours.  One day, my mom heard a news story that the Scotts company was being sued for contaminated bird seed.  They had treated bulk seed in storage with an insecticide that was known to kill birds and cause Colony Collapse Disorder in bees that may visit bird feeders, which they do quite often.  The contaminated seed was sold under 90+ different labels, and by more than one company. 
I had purchased several specific types of bulk seed, from a lesser known seller on Ebay.  I had noticed that some of the birds did not eat much of it. 
Was this why they died at various times?  Did it depend upon how much they ate?  ????
I also changed the water I gave them.  Maybe our well water HAD changed somewhat after the flood, although the first three had died before the flood. ????
Then last month, my lone male died.
I intended to just let things be for a while, and not get in a hurry to buy more birds.  Although it was a pretty lonesome corner where the single cage now stood.  Even the hens were quiet... and one would call, and call!  She really missed the male.
THEN, we made a 'goat deal' with the canary guy and he 'talked' me into bringing home a few more birds.  :)  It didn't take much talking, as I had taken a cage with me when we went to pick up the goat!  :)
I have birds that sing!  And the two older hens are happy and lively again!  :)
Left to right:  In black cage are two Red Factor birds, a pair.  In the white cage are two males and a hen.  On the right, are my two older hens.
P.S.  The 'canary guy' and others have offered the opinons that I 'overfed' my birds last summer.  They think I gave them too much to eat.  I was following all the instructions in The Books, but I might admit that I had so much fun mixing egg foods, breeding formulas, alternating fruits and veggies, and adding treat seed mixes... that I might have gone overboard and 'killed them with kindness'.  I HOPE it is ONLY THAT!
So, they are getting a set amount of simple canary seed mix, and a small amount of green and orange vegetables several times a week.   :)
P.P.S.  One other possible cause of the deaths:  shortly before the deaths began, I had bought glazed pot saucers (made in China) to use for food dishes in the cages.  Over the past years, we have heard cautions about using China-made dishes/mugs ... especially items listed as 'not for use with food'.  There have been other cautions about toxic metals in other China-made items, especially the cheaper ones.  These pot saucers were cheap/cheap, and definitely not intended for use with food!  ?????

Thoughts on PH, Water, Soil, and Tiger Trail

Update.... after researching in Robey's book, several horticultural botany books, etc...
I tested my water, again!

Last month, I ran about a dozen tests, on the various water sources I have such as city water, bottled water, distilled water, our well water, my mom's spring water, and the water from my rain barrels.  Simply:  all local water was slightly alkaline, and the bottled water was slightly acidic.  The distilled water was as close to neutral as my cheap-o test kit can show.
I tested my soil mix, using the distilled water, and running it through a small pot, then testing the saucer water.  It was slightly acidic, bordering a bit toward the worrisome.  But since my water was alkaline, and I have used this basic soil recipe (from the same bulk bags of peat, vermiculite, and perlite) for the past 18 months, and had no real problems, I decided to assume, as I have in the past, THAT ANY INCLINATION TOWARD ACIDIC SOIL WOULD BE COUNTERBALANCED BY THE ALKALINE WATER.
We got a small rainfall, and so I filled all 35 gallon jugs from the rain barrels... before the water froze solid!  :)
(I don't mind if they freeze, I simply bring them indoors during the winter and let them thaw in the tub!  Instant water! )

After noticing Tiger Trail's leaves were purple underneath, I took a closer look at all my violets.
I found:
  • bloom colors more intense generally, with some varieties/plants having blossoms more solid than normal
  • some plants had leaves that were a bit thinner than normal, with discoloration on leaf tips sometimes leading to dying leaf tips
  • 1/3 of the plants had leaves with pink/purple undersides (entire undersides were tinted purple)
  • general impression that oldest leaves beginning to look 'tired' or 'dusty'
  • center leaves a bit too tight and twisted (as I have seen with too much light)
OKAY:  I thought the plants with 'dying tips' may have been the ones that went through single digit temps to the houseplant class!  :(  They would be expected to have some side effects of a 'night on the town'!  :)
And they are all effected.... but I noticed several others that stayed home just beginning to show the same effect.  ????

As for the bloom colors, I have a different combination of light bulbs in my fixtures than usual.  I used one white and one cool for years, then switched to one GroLux and one cool in more recent years.  THIS FALL, I had problems finding any T12 tubes... finding only 'Kitchen/Bath' and 'Daylight', which I decided would be close to the original warm/cool combo.  The fine print on the tube packaging didn't quite match up the old combination, but I decided it was worth a try.  I DO KNOW that BULB TYPE/COLOR does make a difference in the appearance of an African violet bloom under the lights, and in the Grow to Show book, it was written that actual bloom color might be affected as well.????

I also added new BRIGHT light tubes... at least one to every fixture.  And to get as many plants in my space, I have three shelves arranged on my metal shelving units, so the fixtures are normal or closer than normal above my plants.  Maybe a bit too much light????

Reading about Acid vs Alkaline, I discovered that the micronutrients are used more easily at acidic conditions, and decreases the uptake of the three macronutrients. 

Looked at TT closely, and other violets and concluded I needed to do yet another water test!
I tested the water with fertilizer added, and found it was slightly on the acidic scale... today will do a 'runoff water' test with the plant most obviously showing signs.

CONCLUSION:  no real danger yet.... nothing that cannot be corrected.  May have to retest my tub of potting mix, just to see if it has changed after setting.  I did test it a day after mixing, and the 'rules' say to wait a few weeks!  :(   I will also retest my rain water... maybe the recent rainfall was more acidic.
I will use town water or some other more alkaline water, and I will alternate basic Neptune's Harvest fish fertilizer with plain water for a month.  Neptune's does not have added micronutrients... while my other brand of fish emulsion has added elements.
If my tub of potting mix is more acidic than normal, I will remix with new bags of peat, vermiculite and perlite.  I am near the bottom of them anyway, and will use this mix with spring's veggie/flower seedlings.
I will set the light timer to an hour less light.

P.S.  also sent for a  TDS meter... Total Dissolved Solids are in recent literature as having as much to do with plant growth as ph.
P.P.S.  will also set up our Berkley filter again.  We used it after the spring flood was so high and long lasting.  It will be interesting to see if the cheap ph and TDS tests show any real difference in our well water before and after filtering!!???

November 19, 2012

House Plant Class notes are online

Night One of the House Plant Class went fine... with only two 'students'!  :(  Several others could not attend that night, but are hoping to show up for night two.   Well, it is nearing holiday time... and people are just about 'feed up' with keeping outdoor plants alive  all summer, and are happy to be free of something needing watering!  :)    I UNDERSTAND!  If it wasn't for my addiction to African violets, I would be turning to tatting and crocheting for the winter!  :)
The Adult Ed program director wants to schedule another class in March.
We did have fun at the first night!  With so few of us, we were like a group of friends talking about our favorite plants!  :)  Everyone told some interesting or funny 'houseplant' stories, and we learned all about everyone's windows and favorite plants... problems and worries, too!

Night One Notes are online!

Special thanks to Loxi, for helping with the questions, and telling us how much she likes her cyclamen and how to grow it!  Loxi is my 'violet friend' and we have had much fun over the years swapping violets and tales of  'this one and that one'!

November 17, 2012

Tiger Trail questions

Regarding a question by Laurie on her blog:  Curiosity of Variegation

I have had this happen before, in years past.  I have not yet found a reason why.
The resulting 'pink babies' look similar to photos of Ellie Gardner, registered by the same hybridizer the year after Tiger Trail.  But they were not the same as a starter plant of Ellie Gardner.  (I did not have Ellie Gardner long, as that is the time that I discovered a thrips infestation and the plant was eventually tossed.)

After Laurie's questions, I photo'd my Tiger Trail plants, and discovered the newest growth was 'turning red'.  The leaf backs were red on the youngest leaves and the top side of the leaf had smaller specks of pinkish variegation.

Photo of typical Tiger Trail (2003) in window light:

Photo of Tiger Trail 2 years ago (2009):
typical look... maybe a bit overall bluish cast to the whole photo... Under plant light

Photos of Tiger Trail today 11/17/2012):  plants resulting from leaf of plant above:
Note older leaf (lower leaf) is white backed, and the newer (upper) leaf is reddish backed.
Also, note the newest growth in the crown facing the camera.  It has smaller specks of pinkish variegaton rather than the larger splotches of white that is seen in the older leaves.

A second 2012 plant:

Note that there is the same difference between the backs on the older leaf and a newer leaf.
Both 2012 plants are under lights when these photos were taken.
Next, photos of my Tiger Trail leaves that are just beginning to sprout:
The three groups of baby leaves are TT, the three leaves you see with variegation are TT.
This is about normal appearance... possibly quite thick stems?  But my house is cool right now, and I notice sprouting babies are 'stalkier' in cooler temps.
Since setting these leaves 9/13/ I think I have only watered them once or twice, since they have been under a dome until a few days ago.

I did change fertilizers since the early years, and prior to 2000, I always ALWAYS grew Tiger Trail in window light, and since that date, they have almost always been under plant lights.

While the pink version is not ugly, I so enjoy the white version, the PROPER version, of TT that I am going to do an experiment... I am going to put the larger plant in a window, and leave the smaller one on the plant shelf.  I will water both with water only, no fertilizer, for several months.  I will also leech the pots, as you would to flush excess fertilizer salts.

The other plants on my two plant stands are normal, or blooming more intensely than usual.  Nothing has changed it's variegation, or color of leaf backs.  Foliage on all may be slightly more 'brittle' than normal.  I seem to break off leaves just turning pots around or lifting them to place in tray of water, etc.  Two of my three Diamond Girl plants bloomed with much less white in the blossom, but the third is normal although the pink/magenta is dark and bright.

November 8, 2012

Houseplant Class Postponed

The Chinook Adult Ed Houseplant Class has been postponed.  The storm warnings made me nervous and we postponed the first night!!!  :(
The lessons will be online .... shortly after each session, updates will be added to the lessons section of AfricanVioletFun.Com.

November 4, 2012

Elbow Room!

It is amazing what 2 weeks can do.... when the plants have elbow room!  After repotting, and grooming my 'mama' violets, I put all 40 back on the two lighted shelves.  I knew I HAD to put up a third light fixture, but I was busy.....
MILDEW came!  Our Montana nights are becoming cold, and yet the house is warm on the days the sun shines.... SO.... ideal mildew situation:  warm days and cool nights.  There was probably a 15 degree difference. Combine that with the crowded conditions, and I began to see a few spots of mildew on several leaves.
Since I want to have some of these plants for display/demonstration during the upcoming houseplant class, I went to work.  All the plants' leaves got a firm washing under running warm water.  Then trays, shelves and plants were misted, quite heavily, with Lysol disinfecting spray.
Forgot to add that I put up a third light above the original two.
(tFirst photo shows top and middle shelves.  Second photos shows middle and bottom shelves.)

Since this stand is in our master bathroom, I ran the ceiling exhaust for at least 6 hours a day.
It has been 8 days, and no new sign of mildew, but as soon as I take some of the plants to the first houseplant class this week, I will mist everything again with the Lysol spray.  It does have a tendency to spot the blooms, so will wait until after they have had their beauty show.

The philodendron stems in the glass bottle, and the sweet potato sprouting in the blue glass are examples for the class.  On the top shelf, is a tray of sweet potato slips, and a 'Mother of Thousands' kalanchoe.

October 23, 2012

Maintenance isn't always pretty!

I just finished repotting every single African violet in the house!  :)  Two weeks ago, I repotted the geraniums, and other outdoor plants that I bring indoors for the winter.  Last week, I began on the violets.
They had been semi-loved all summer.... and only half of my heart just isn't what they wanted.
Don't tell anyone, but violets get jealous!  :)  At least, I have found they sulk when most of my attention is focused on something else! :)
Here are my keepers, the plants I want to keep for myself.  They were drastically groomed, and repotted in fresh soil.

I have agreed to teach a Houseplant class for the district's Adult Ed program, beginning in November. So, the past two weeks have seem me repotting, and rooting cuttings!  I have about 40 medium AVs, 12 medium misc houseplants, 18 smaller houseplant cuttings rooting (top left tray under the dome in the photo below), and about 40 smaller, extra AVs.  Over the three weeks of the class, I should have at least one night where everyone goes home with a free plant!  :)  In the tray, with dome, on top right of the first photo below, I have started AV and strep leaves... by the time we get to the propagation section of the class, they will be reliably rooted, and I will give a leaf to every class member... maybe more than one leaf, depending upon how many people attend.
I don't need much of an excuse to set more leaves, do I????
'THEY ARE FOR SOMEONE ELSE' is the best reason of all!!!!

'Things will be different this time...' by Laurie

... Oh, I hope not EVERYTHING will be different this time, Laurie In Maine!  You had such beautiful violets in the past; I hope THAT doesn't change!  And by the most recent photo on your blog, I would say you still have that 'violet thumb'!
       Here are a few photos I found of your violet stands in the past.  You had posted these photos on The Violet Voice group.

Laurie's December 2003 violets:

Another photo from May 2006:
These photos/plants are discussed in her Socks Have No Thumbs blog, which included interesting posts of her violets during those years.  She has continued the 'Sock's blog to talk about family, quilting and knitting, as well as beautiful photos! 

To see photos of her violets today, and to read all about the plants that arrived in her care August 14th, and which are now blooming on her shelf, visit her African violet blog:  Thou Shalt Not Kill {African Violets}.

I wish my violet shelves looked like hers................  :(

Grandmother's Halo (photo)

Just took a photo of Grandmother's Halo... How could a variety get to my 'Top Ten' List and I not have a photo of it????!!!!!!   Just a reminder that we TAKE LOVED ONES FOR GRANTED!!!
This plant is about 5 years old itself... and had been growing in an east window until a few weeks ago.  I trimmed off a row of older leaves and repotted it with fresh mix.  It is now under my lights.. awaiting  the upcoming houseplant class.

September 24, 2012

My Top Ten and Keeper Lists

I have FINALLY organized my Top Ten and Keeper lists!
They are available online at:

Fall 2012 Violet Voice Round Robin

The Violet Voice is half-way through their 2012 Fall Round Robin Boxes.... and here is my 'loot':
The black tray on the right and the 'half-tray' in the middle are the RR leaves and plants.  The tray on the left are leaves I ordered this month from commercial AV vendors.  (OKAY... I know:  I need more leaves like I need a hole in my head!  But since I had the RR leaves to becare for in the isolation area, why not take this chance to get a few other varieties that I had lost or been coveting!)

Total count of leaves set.. is approx. 82!  Gulp!
Please pardon the 'feathers' on the floor and windowsill... the leaves must share the window area with my canaries!

September 10, 2012

The AV Story

As The African Violet Story Unfolded.....

(Sections quoted from The Colourful World of African Violets by A.G.W. Simpson)

"Walter von Saint Paul sent a collection of African Violets to his father, the Baron von Saint Paul, who owned estates on German Upper Silesia. We must assume that the baron had glasshouses, as that German province is one of the coldest parts of Germany. Baron von Saint Paul was intriqued by the plants and sent part of his collection to Herr Herman Wendland, at that time director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Herrenhausen."

" the generic name of Saintpaulia meant that Herr Wendland also had to give it a specie name as well, and when he studied the plant he saw that the most characteristic part was its violet blue flower. Thus he called it ionantha. "Ion" is Greek for violet and "antha" means flowering. Thus we have the descriptive name of "Violet-flowering Saintpaulis", or Saintpaulia ionantha."

"The original African violet found growing in Tanganyika was Saintpaulia ionantha. Saintpaulia confusa, another specie, was also found. Once the specie S. ionantha was crossed with the specie S. confusa a range of plants was produced which are known as "varieties", or more correctly, "cultivars". Varieties are bred by nature in the wild, whereas cultivars are bred by man. Modern cultivars are Blue Boy, Amethyst, Sweetheart Blue and many more."

"...We are told that von Saint Paul sent more than one species of African Violet to his father. Two species for sure were S. ionantha and S. confusa. therefore from those humble beginnings Suttons and Ernst Benary developed their various cultivars."

"Armcost and Royston, a famous Californian grower, imported hybrid seed from Suttons (UK) and Ernst Benary (Germany) and bred them on. and from more than 1000 seedlings, they could select only 10 good cultivatars. They were Admiral, Amethyst, Blue boy, Commodore, Mermaid, Neptune, Norseman, Sailor Boy, Viking, and No. 32. ...."

"In 1939 a gentleman named Ed Wangbickler was sorting through a batch of African Violets he had grown, when, clustered in a group of Blue Boy, he saw a strange mutation. It was a beautiful double blue...."

"...In 1940 the famous nursery of Holton and Hunkel was sorting through a batch of Blue Boy, and there, standing like a beacon in a blue night, was the first recorded single clear pink...."

"We are still in the '40's. Peter Ruggeri discovered and grew a white culivar, which he named White Lady."

"....The Fischeer Greenhouses produced a ruffled flower known as the Fringette Series. The DuPont strain with its begonia-like leaves appeared. The Fantasy types with their "splashed" petals made a great impact. And the Rhapsodies, with their elegant habit and extravagant floral abundance, took the African Violet world by storm."

"In 1954 a gentleman named Lyndon Lyon exhibited four African Violets at the National African Violet Show in Saint Louis. It triggered off great excitement. Why? The plants were the first elusive double pinks. And one in particular which caused quite a stir was Ohio Beautiful."

(The following is adapted from an AVM article in the Jan/Feb 2003 issue written by Dr. Jeff Smith, entitled 'Thank Goodness for Sports'. Includes photos and info regarding Janet Stromborg's recent series of sports. Please read it, it is interesting!)

Table 2. Important Sports or Mutations in African Violets

Double Flowers 1939 Mutant of 'Blue Boy'

Pink Flowers 1940 Mutant of 'Blue Boy'

Girl Foliage 1941 Mutant of 'Blue Boy'

Fantasy Flowers 1949

Geneva Edges 1950

Star-Shaped Flowers 1952

Fringed Flowers 1953

Bustled Foliage 1957

"Tommie Lou" 1959 Found as a sport of 'White Pride'
Varigation by Tommie Louise Oden
Varigation is on leaf edges.

"Lillian Jarrett" or 1961 Found in a sport of 'Lilian Jarrett'
Mosiac Varigation
Varigation is the center areas of the leaf blade.

Coral Pigments 1963

Yellow Flowers 1989

Hybridizing History ~~ 3/1964 GSN


Trail of Progress

George Wessale
March 1964 Gesneriad Saintpaulia News, pgs. 24-25

At the sight of each new cultivar we express surprise and admiration and cannot help but wonder what is coming next or where the path of this plant's fascinating development will lead us. In our ecstasy, we are apt to forget that this has been going on for quite a long time and that once upon a time there was an humble and uncertain beginning for this Cinderella.

To pick up the thread of history of our favorite plant, we must go back to the year 1892, when a young German nature lover and colonial official in the service of his country, found the first African violet plants. He did so while walking through the beautiful primeval forests of the Usambara Mountains and the shaded Coastal Plains near Tanga in Tanganyika, German East Africa. Plants were found in both localities. His name was Baron Walter von Saint Paul-Illaire. He was the Imperial District Captain of Usambara, a province of East Tanganyika, Territory of East Africa. Knowing that his father, Hofsmarsehal Baron Ulrich von Saint Paul-Illaire, of Fisehbach in Silesia, Germany would be interested in his discovery, he sent him some of the plants or seeds. There seems to be some disagreement as to whether the plants were sent in a dry state as botanical specimens or whether an attempt was made to deliver them in living condition. The boat trip required several weeks and it seems doubtful that proper care could have been given them to survive the long trip as live plants.

Be that as it may, there undoubtedly were some seed pods sent along with the plants to the father. Specimens of these plants were sent to the Hofsmarschal's good friend Herman Wendland, a noted botanist of his day and at that time, Director of the Royal Botanical Gardens of Herrenhausen (Hanover), Germany. Wendland grew the plants he received. A year later he identified and named the genus Saintpaulia, in honor of the Saint Paul family, and because of its violet-like flowers he gave it the species name lonantha. In 1393 they were exhibited at the Ghent Quinquennial Exhibition, held from April 16 to 23, 1893, where they created much interest. The firm of Ernst Benary, Erfurt, Germany was assigned the commercial rights for distribution of seeds.

It is not known just how much progress was made in the propagation and selective breeding of Saintpaulias during the next number of years, in either England or Germany. Plants were brought to America about 1894 by a New York florist George Stumpp who purchased then. in Germany. Two plants of this shipment were sold to a Philadelphia florist William K. Harris, who probably grew some and sold them to his customers.

There was quite a gap in the trail of events before we again pick it up about 1927, when Walter Armacost of Armacost and Royston, Inc. Los Angeles, California obtained seeds from both England and Germany. His first attempt to grow them produced about a thousand plants. He noticed considerable variation in the lot selected and saved about a hundred of the most likely ones for further propagation and breeding.

Several years later, he made his final selection of plants and in 1936 issued a price list offering them to growers across the country. Of course, among them was the old pioneer, Blue Boy. Others were Admiral, Amethyst, Sailor Boy. Commodore. Neptune, Norseman. Mermaid, Viking and No. 32. Popularity of the plants spread rapidly and they were soon grown in considerable numbers.

About this time Mrs. William K. duPont of Wilmington, Delaware purchased seeds from Suttons of London, England. Among the seedlings raised was one with outstanding heavy foliage. Through hybridizing and selection Mrs. dupont developed the duPont strain of Saintpaulias from this plant.

On May 5, 1942 plant patent No. 514 was granted to Frank Brockner, assignor to Holton & Hunkle Company, Milwaukee, Wis., for Pink Beauty a mutant of Blue Boy. Pink Beauty was the first clear true pink. The inevitable soon happened and Nature asserted itself in a greenhouse bench of a mid-west grower by producing the first break or mutant to the girl type foliage from Blue Boy. Thus Blue Girl was born. The Ulery Greenhouses, Springfield, Ohio was granted a plant patent No. 535 on July 28, 1942 on Blue Girl. Another mutation, resulting from the hybridizing efforts of Peter Ruggeri, Silver Terrace Nursery, produced a pure white African violet — White Lady. Mr. Ruggeri applied for the patent and assigned the rights to the Fred C. Gloeckner & Company, Inc., New York, N.Y. who were granted plant patent No. 597, August 3, 1943.

Events followed in rapid succession with the appearance of Red Head and the many. many intermediate shades of reds, orchids and blues. It was an exciting and enchanting time in the Saintpaulia world.

In 1948 we received another even greater surprise with the introduction of the first doubles — Duchess and Double Neptune. A number of various color shades on double flowers were soon available and the clamor for the first double pink was on. . . . Rumors were flying hard and fast but strangely enough, it was not until 1954 when not one but at least five double pinks were announced simultaneously.

There may be some significance in this, because a short time previously we were told, by a noted mid-west geneticist, how to proceed to obtain double pinks with the plants we already had on hand by applying the principles of Mendel's Laws of Inheritance. Many growers heeded his advice and got the desired results promptly

The writer knows of one instance, however, where this was not necessarily so. A beautiful double pink, as fine as any, appeared among a few seedlings of a local amateur grower, from seeds purchased of a commercial producer. Here the correct cross may have been made accidentally, or it may possibly have been another mutation.

After the flurry of double pinks subsided somewhat, it appeared, for a time, that we were entering a period of monotony and stagnation of interest because hundreds of new cultivars were being introduced with practically no variation of flower or leaf from older plants. The larger growers, no doubt sensed this and set out to correct the situation, at least to some extent, by striving toward more floriferous plants, larger blooms and variegated or multicolored foliage.

Results from such radical attempts as chemical treatment and radiation, so far as is generally known, have been disappointing but who can tell what the future will bring to a house plant with such universal popularity? And to think that it all probably started with a few little shriveled seed pods long ago!

Hunger Signs In Violets~~1/1998 AVM

What Happened to My Plants
Hunger Signs in Violets
January/February 1998 African Violet Magazine, pgs 43-45
By Dr. Charles Cole

Providing good nutrition for our African violet plants involves more than purchasing a fertilizer product and applying it to the plants. We need a basic knowledge of what a plant needs and how a specific nutrient effects a plant under a given set of conditions. If we understand how to use specific fertilizer elements we may use them to obtain a desired response from our plants. A familiar example of this is seen when we reduce the use of nitrogen in our fertilization program in an effort to enhance variegation in certain cultivars.
There are 16 chemical elements which are essential for plant growth. Often we see them grouped into two groups, the non- mineral elements and the mineral elements.
The 3 non-mineral elements are Carbon (C), Hydrogen (H), and Oxygen (0). These elements are obtained from water and from the air. They are utilized in the form of H20, water and C02, Carbon dioxide, in the process of photosynthesis. A deficiency of carbon dioxide, water or light can result in reduced growth but may produce no other visible symptoms.
The 13 mineral elements essential for normal plant growth are absorbed from the soil (potting media). These elements are divided into 3 groups; the primary nutrients, the secondary nutrients and the micronutrient.
Primary Nutrients are often called the fertilizer nutrients. They consist of Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K). The percentages reported on many commercial fertilizer containers refer to these nutrients. For example, 5-10-5 refers to the percent of N, P & K respectively in the product.
Secondary Nutrients are often deficient in soils but not nearly so often as the primary nutrients. These nutrients are: Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg) & Sulfur (5). These nutrients are utilized in many processes which takes place in the plant and deficiencies seriously effect plant health.
Micronutrient are often called minor elements or trace elements. Many commercial products have one or more of these elements added. Micronutrient included; Mn - Manganese, Iron (Fe), Zinc (Zn), Copper (Cu), Boron (B), Molybdenum (Mo) and Chlorine (Cl).
Although essential in trace amounts these micronutrient in excess amounts can be toxic to plants, resulting in damage to the plants which is as serious or more serious than if they occurred in deficient amounts.
The availability and utilization of all plant nutrients are affected by water, temperature, light and pH.
In general water which is often called the universal solvent is necessary for dissolution and transport of nutrients throughout the plant system and for the completion of many of the continuous processes which go on within a plant. Temperature, within its tolerant range regulates the speed of reactions within a plant; initiating some reactions, speeding up reactions, slowing reaction and stopping some reactions. Light acts as a power source, also effecting reactions.
These 3 factors have been discussed in detail in a previous article in the AVSA Magazine (Vol. 50, No. 6, pp 12-14).

The pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a substance; soil, water, etc. It is measured on a scale of from 0 -14. A pH of 7 is neutral. A pH above 7 is alkaline, like ammonia and a pH below 7 is acid, like vinegar.
When soil particles are saturated with ions of calcium, magnesium, potassium or sodium it has a high pH and is said to be basic or alkaline. These soils are often referred to as 'sweet' soils. When these ions are replaced with hydrogen ions the soil has a low pH and is said to be acid. These soils are often referred to as 'sour' soils. Leaching is a common cause of sour soils, as the ions creating a high pH are leached out and are replaced with H ions.
The pH of the media in which plants are grown can greatly affect their health. The pH plays an important role in determining which nutrients are available and in what amounts.
This is especially true in the case of K, C, Mg and S. Nutrients can either be tied up and unviable or released in toxic amounts, depending upon the pH.
The most favorable pH for nutrient uptake by plants ranges from 6.3 - 6.7. However, certain plants prefer more acid conditions while others thrive in higher alkaline conditions. African violets prefer a pH of 6.5-6.7.

It is extremely difficult to induce nutrient deficiency symptoms in the African Violet. Research has shown that you may grow AV's in sterile soil for 18-24 mos. and still show no symptoms and a specific nutrient deficiency.
The African violet stores nutrients in its stems, petioles and leaves. This makes the plant a very well buffered system which is capable of 'borrowing' nutrients from one part of the plant to feed another part. This movement of nutrients and 'food' from one part of the plant to another is known as translocation. Seldom do symptoms of nutrient deficiencies appear in AV's while the deficiency occurs, however symptoms may occur much later, sometimes even after the problem has been corrected.

When we fertilize African violets we put nutrients into the soil not plant food. African violets, like other plants, manufacture their own food. Nutrients are taken up by the roots and transported to the leaves. Here in the presence of light, using chlorophyll as a catalyst the nutrients are, through the process of photosynthesis, manufactured into amino acids, proteins, starches, sugar, carbohydrates and other products that plants use as food for plant growth and development. The products of photosynthesis, plant food, is then translocated to other areas of the plant where they are used by the plant or stored for future use.

The soil or potting media in which plants grow serves as a pantry to accumulate and store nutrients for use by plants.
Of all of the essential nutrient elements only Nitrogen moves freely through the soil in the form of nitrates. Nitrogen is readily water soluble and can travel anywhere water can go. The other nutrients move little to none and are available only where plant roots reach them. The availability of nutrients in the soil is effected by temperature and soil pH.

Nitrogen is abundantly available in nature but not in a form available to plants. Plants take up N in the form of nitrate salts and ammonium salts. These are converted into amino acids. Amino acids are combined to form proteins. Proteins are used to build plant tissues.
Nitrogen is often referred to as the 'foliage' nutrient. Fertilizing a plant deficient in N often results in a quick spurt of plant growth and an intensification of the green color as N is found in the chlorophyll molecule which gives a plant its green color.
A deficiency in N produces a condition called chlorosis. This is manifest in a loss of green color and the plants appear 'yellowed' or faded in color. The older leaves of a plant are the first affected because nitrogen, is translocated from older tissue to the younger actively growing tissue in the crown of a plant, leaving the older leaves deficient in the element.
Phosphorus is necessary for the utilization of energy in plant metabolism. It is necessary for the photosynthetic reaction which transforms the energy of light into carbohydrates. Phosphorus is essential for proper cell division. A deficiency in P results in reduced growth, thin stalks, small leaves and in severe deficiencies a stunned growth.
A deficiency in P often results in a reddish, purplish or brown color developing in plant leaves, especially along the leaf veins. Phosphorus is often referred to as the 'root' nutrient and is often applied to give the root system of young plants a boost.
Potassium is needed for protein and carbohydrate formulation. Potassium activates specific enzymes in a plant and regulates a number of chemical reactions necessary for
metabolism and growth. Potassium enhances the plant's ability to resist disease, cold temperature and other adverse conditions.
Plants deficient in K may show a dark green or blue- green color. Necrotic (dead) spots may occur on leaves or along the leaf margin. Plant growth is slowed under severe conditions. Blossom and seed formulation can be affected.
Symptoms will appear on the older leaves first as K is translocated from the older to the younger leaves.
Potassium is often referred to as the blossom or seed nutrient.

Calcium is a component of the cell wall. It is necessary for cell division and elongation. Calcium acts as a cement to hold cell walls together and to hold one cell to another, building tissue.
As Ca is not translocated in appreciable amounts, symptoms are found first and most severely in the youngest leaves or crown of a plant. In severe deficiencies the growing part of plants may die. Plants deficient in Ca may have very poor root growth and damaged roots making them very susceptible to infection by bacteria and fungi.
A delicate balance in Ca is necessary in plants. A deficiency may create a toxicity of aluminum, boron, magnesium or potassium.
Magnesium is the key element in the chlorophyll molecule. It is often called the 'companion for phosphorous' as the two combine, facilitating their movement to their proper site in a plant for utilization. Magnesium is necessary for amino acid and fat synthesis. It also affects the viability of seeds.
Magnesium is readily translocated so symptoms will be found in the oldest leaves first. Deficient plants may show marginal chlorosis or chlorosis may appear as yellowish blotches on a leaf. Damaged leaves often show a yellow, orange or red pigmentation.
Sulfur is needed for the formation of new cells and chlorophyll. Sulfur is a component of certain amino acids which are found in most protein molecules.
Symptoms of S deficiency appear much like those of N. deficiency. Plants are chlorotic, spindly and grown poorly.

Iron, although needed in very small amounts, is most essential to the health of plants. Iron functions as a catalyst in the formation of chlorophyll. It also acts as an oxygen carrier within the plant. In acid conditions iron is readily available but under alkaline conditions iron is held in a form not available to most plants.
Deficient plants show symptoms in the youngest tissue first, as iron is not readily translocated within the plant.
The first signs of a deficiency appears as a pale green color of the tissue between the leaf veins while the veins themselves remain green. Under severe deficiency entire leaves or even an entire plant will become yellow to almost white and the leaves may begin to die from the tip back.
Manganese activates enzymes involved in chlorophyll formation. Symptoms appear in the youngest leaves first and look much like iron deficiency with yellowing between the leaf veins. Sometimes brownish or blackish spots may occur along a leaf. The tissue in the spots may eventually die causing dead spots or streaks between leaf veins.
Zinc deficiency may cause conditions called 'little leaf' and 'rosette'. These conditions are the result of abnormal tissue growth. Leaves may become twisted and may have necrotic spots within the leaf.
Copper deficient plants often have leaves which are dark green in color and have their margins rolled up. Flowering and fruiting are curtailed.
Boron deficiency may be seen as damaged plant terminals. Tissue may appear hard, dry and brittle. Leaves may become distorted and the stems may be rough and cracked: Corky ridges or spots may appear on the plant stem.
Molybdenum deficiency will appear as a chlorosis between leaf veins. Leaves often appear mottled and their margins tend to curl or roll up.
Chlorine deficiencies apparently do not occur naturally. Only artificially induced deficiencies have been observed in plants.

When all of the above information has been digested you may want to go to the following key to plant-nutrient deficiencies and try your hand at identifying some plant- nutrient problems.
To use this key read 1 a and l b. Observe your problem plant and see which of the statements your plant fits. Then proceed to the next couplet of statements as directed by your choice (1 a or 1 b). Continue in this manner until a statement indicates the specific nutrient responsible for your set of plant symptoms.

Key to Plant-Nutrient Deficiencies
Problem effect is general on entire plant, or are confined to older or lower leaves.....2
Problem effect is localized on younger (terminal) leaves or plant.....6
2a. Problem effect general on entire plant; lower leaves shows yellowing and drying up (firing). Acute stages develop reddish to purplish color on lower leaves.....3
2b. Problem effects localized, appears as a loss of green color or mottling (chlorosis). May have dead (necrotic) spots on lower leaves. Very little if any drying-up of lower leaves.....4
3a. Color is faded, beginning with tips and margins of leaflets until all foliage becomes a lighter green than normal. Over time, the color may fade to pale yellow. In extreme cases margins of lower leaves become devoid of chlorophyll and curl, sometimes the leaves will 'fire-up'. Stunted growth and defoliation are characteristics of prolonged problems.....Nitrogen
Foliage crinkly and dark green. In acute cases lower leaves become purplish. Plants stand stiffly erect. Leaflets, leaf margins and petioles take an upward direction. Leaflets are often cup-shaped. Leaves fail to expand to normal size. With acute deficiency growth is seriously affected.....Phosphorus
Foliage darker green than normal. Leaf reduced in size. Internodes short. Plants have a humped-up, recurved appearance. Foliage becomes crinkled and veins become sunken. If prolonged the deficiency causes a slight yellowing of the leaves, then a bronzing develops from the tips of the plant. Plants become weakened and are more susceptible to disease organisms....Potassium
Lower leaves lighter green than normal....5
5a. Chlorosis begins at tips and margin of leaves and progresses between the veins toward the center of the leaflet. If prolonged the tissue between the veins is filled with brown and dead areas. A definite bulging between veins and thickening of the leaves occurs. Effected leaves are brittle.....Magnesium
The lower leaves are chlorotic and may develop grayish-brown to bronze irregular spots. This usually occurs first on leaves mid way into the center of the plant (midway up the stem) but will eventually affect most of the plant. Spots become sunken and the tissue eventually dies. Leaves may be small, thick. Spots may develop on leaf petioles and stem. Margins of leaves may curl upward....Zinc
Unusual distortions at the tips or bases of young leaves making up the terminal bud. Terminal bud dies.....7
6b. Terminal bud remains alive. Chlorosis occurs on newer leaves. Chlorotic leaves may have spots of dead tissue. Veins light to dark green.....8
7. The young leaves of the terminal bud are lighter green than normal. The lighter color is more pronounced at the base of the leaves. Stem tip may die or have distorted growth. Leaves become thickened and curl upward. The leafstalks become brittle. Purple coloration may develop. Tips and margins of leaves (especially lower leaves) die prematurely.....Boron
No pronounced general or uniform yellowing of the leaves.....9
. If chlorosis is present it is only slight and uniform through out the leaf.....10
No pronounced chlorosis. Young leaves become limp and remain permanently wilted. Terminal leaves wilt as flower buds are being produced. Tips of leaves dry up and turn brown if deficiency persists.....Copper
If leaves turn yellow it is a slight, general yellowing similar to nitrogen deficiency and leaves do not dry up. Growth is stunted. Some spotting of leaves occurs in advanced stages of deficiency.....Sulfur
A slight uniform chlorosis on young leaves. Tips and margins of leaves remain green longest. Principle veins retain normal green color. Tissue gradually becomes pale yellow, almost white in extreme cases. No dead spots are found in leaves.....Iron
Leaves become lighter green than normal between the leaf veins. This is most pronounced in the center of the plant. These areas may become yellow to white in severe cases and may develop small brown spots. The outer leaves are the last to be affected.....Manganese

Ammonium Toxicity~~11/1997 AVM

Ammonium Toxicity in African Violets
November/December 1997 African Violet Magazine, pgs 26-27
By Kent and Joyce Stork, Fremont, NE
     For some time we have received questions from individuals who have grown African violets successfully for years who now find that their plants will no longer grow as large as they once did. The plants described exhibited a number of symptoms related to foliage, but those symptoms were not consistent with the usual problems associated with violets. We consulted several sources who suggested the possibility of ammonium toxicity... a condition linked to the use of urea or ammonium based fertilizers.
     At this time, we can find no studies of ammonium toxicity specifically targeting African violets. The condition has been studied in florists’ gloxinias, and we thank Dr. Paul Nelson of North Carolina State University for sharing the results of his studies. He believes that ammonium toxicity does affect African violets. The symptoms he described closely resemble the problems violet growers brought to us.
     In florists' gloxinias, the ammonium toxicity causes lower leaves to curl downward stiffly (not limply). The lower leaves will exhibit irregular and highly unpredictable patterns of chlorosis (lighter green patches). The leaf margins of the most mature leaves will be burned, and as the toxicity becomes more pronounced the leaf burning shows up on younger and younger leaves until it affects the crown itself. The plant may die completely. The root structure will be reduced in size and will have an orange- brown tone that is distinctly different from normal root color.
     Dr. Nelson stated that other plants which have been studied show similar patterns, although some plant types react by leaf curl that goes upward rather than down. The lighter patches of color on the leaves are consistently unpredictable on all plants studied.
     Ammonium toxicity can have a phantom-like quality. The grower may not note any changes in growing methods or conditions when plants develop symptoms. Similarly, symptoms can disappear temporarily before returning. This can lead a grower to believe that a fungus, an unseen insect, or a virus has invaded. It can also cause a grower to believe that something caused an improvement, when in fact it had no effect at all.
     The extent of the reaction can vary in different hybrid strains of one plant type. Since many African violet growers have several hybrids in their collection, it would be
expected that the pattern of symptoms would vary from plant to plant.
     Several growers who attended the 1997 AVSA convention in Florida reported very similar symptoms. They were completely puzzled until they discovered that their standard fertilizer had changed. The company producing it was bought out by a larger corporation who changed the source of the nitrogen to a much cheaper ammonia form. This change was not advertised or promoted but it had serious consequences for growers.
     Ammonium toxicity is generally linked to the use of urea-based or ammonium fertilizers along with the absence or ineffectiveness of soil bacteria. The active soil bacteria can break ammonia down into a usable nitrate form as long as the soil temperature stays above 70 degrees Fahrenheit and as long as the soil pH is 6.0 or above. When the soil temperatures cool to below 70 degrees or the pH drops into a more acid range, the soil bacteria becomes progressively less active and less able to process ammonia. This results in a build-up of ammonia to toxic levels.
     Growers in areas that experience wide seasonal temperature swings might note the problem during the winter season, but not as much in the summer. Farmers in areas with very acid water conditions (often areas that receive lots of rain yearly) report very serious problems with ammonium toxicity in field crops. Violet growers can almost certainly predict similar problems where water supplies are acid. Similarly, if the soil or potting mix is very acid (peat moss can vary in pH in somewhat unpredictable ways), the ammonium toxicity can become a problem even if the water is neutral.
     If you grow violets in an area with well-regulated room temperatures and do not have an acid water supply, you will probably not have to deal with this problem. There is no reason to panic if you see no symptoms.
     If you must deal with seasonally cool temperatures, be aware of how it may affect your violets. Do not use the lowest shelves in your growing area during the cool months since the coolest air is always closest to the floor.
     You may wish to use less fertilizer since the soil bacteria will be less efficient at processing the ammonia. If possible, warm the room so that soil temperature does not sink below 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid using cold water to water plants or refill reservoirs. (Hot water is also not acceptable.. .do not use water warmer or cooler than ten degrees from the air temperature.)
     If you must deal with persistent acid pH in your soil or water, you would be wise to consider using one of the nitrate-based fertilizer products. Read the ingredients on the label. You will need a brand that lists at least one of its sources of nitrogen using the word 'nitrate'. These will not add the excess ammonia to your soil, and are not so dependent upon soil bacteria.
     If you suspect a problem, try leaching the soil. Pour an amount of water at least equal to the size of the pot into the top of the soil and allow it to run through the plant. It is best to do this when the plant is somewhat moist so that all salts will be dissolved and flushable. Do not allow plants to stand in the runaway water. If you note an orange tone to the water that is running out, you may assume that there is some sort of fertilizer build-up in the soil. Leaching should reduce the toxic build-up and may cause symptoms to go away. It is wise to leach until the runoff water is no longer colored.
     Once recognized, ammonium toxicity should be easy to control and avoid. Best of all, the treatment is inexpensive and safe. There's no reason to panic! 

Vegetative Propagation ~~ 5/1964 GSN


Vegetative Propagation
By Frances Batcheller
May - June 1964, Gesneriad Saintpaulia News, pages 16-17

The Gesneriad family has a remarkable capacity for vegetative reproduction. Only two other plant families — Crassulaceae and Begonieae — have similar abilities. This characteristic is a large factor in their popularity, with the home grower who likes to share favorite plants, with the commercial grower who needs rapid multiplication and with the hybridizer who wants to perpetuate sterile hybrids. Gesneriads can be propagated from single leaves, auxilliary shoots, offsets, stolons, or tip cuttings as well as by the normal methods used by the plant for propagation with scaly rhizomes, propagules or tubers. With all these methods to work from, successful propagation can be achieved by any one willing to devote time and effort to the project.

The single leaf method is extensively used with Saintpaulia and Sinningia. The leaf may be rooted in several ways. It will generally root in water. Wax paper or metal foil should be placed over the top of the container and held down with an elastic. Holes are punched to allow the stem to reach the water. The water level must be kept high enough to reach the end of the stem during the rooting process. The main advantage of this method is visibility and being able to check on progress.

It also uses materials readily available to anyone. The main disadvantage is that the roots which develop are apt to be weak and clump together when the leaf is transferred to a pot.

Another method is to use a shallow container filled with a porous rooting medium such as moss, vermiculite or perlite. The stems are inserted in this medium which is kept damp. This method can be used for short-stemmed or stemless leaves. The roots which form are generally much stronger than by the water method and are far easier to transplant. The rooting medium should be kept loose and well aerated.

A third method is to put about two inches of damp vermiculite in the bottom of a plastic bag and insert the stems in this medium. A coat hanger will hold several bags fastened with clip clothespins. This method saves space and requires little attention. If the vermiculite is too damp, there may be some rotting of the leaves. It should be checked carefully for the first week. Leave the top of the bag open if it seems too damp.

A terrarium or large plastic box can also be used to start leaves or cuttings. An aquarium covered with a sheet of plastic can be very useful for this purpose. Some air circulation must be provided. If a large quantity of water condenses on the top and sides of such a container, the rooting medium is too damp and the cover should be left off for a time to enable it to dry out somewhat.

To increase the yield from Sinningia leaves, the stem may be split and usually a tuber will form on each half. Also the leaf may be cut in sections, taking wedge-shaped pieces from the area surrounding the main or large lateral veins. Sometimes these leaf cuttings will form only fibrous roots. After potting up new growth may appear or the mother leaf may gradually die back. In this case, a small tuber is usually found in the soil. After a resting period, this will start in with new growth.

Any large leaf, such as Sinningia, Rechsteieria or Streptocarpus is difficult to root, and results are frequently better if the leaf is reduced in size by a half or more. Generally this is done in a V cut, parallel to the lateral veins. Any cutting should be done on a flat surface with a razor blade, as this bruises the tissue far less than a knife or scissors. With these methods involving cutting, it is a good idea to practice on easily available varieties, rather than trying it for the first time on a particularly choice variety.

Another method that can be used for large flat leaves is the one frequently used for Begonias. This involves making cuts across the large veins on the underside of the leaf. The leaf is then pinned down, right side up, on damp rooting medium. New plantlets will appear around the cut area.

Offsets, or suckers, frequently form around the base of rosette-type Gesneriads, such as Saintpaulia, Petrocosmea and Boea. These may be cut off and rooted in the same manner as individual leaves. Streptocarpus plants have a tendency to progress in a straight line, rather than in a circle, and a plant can be divided by cutting between the plantlets and potting each one up separately. Extra shoots that form on Sinningias or X Gloxineras can also be cut off and rooted, as these plants are generally preferred in a single crown, as is Saintpaulia.

Stolons, long shoots produced from the leaf axils of Episcias, may be cut off and rooted, or rooted while still attached to the mother plant, as the analogous strawberry runner.

Tip cuttings, the terminal end of a stem with several pairs of leaves, are the traditional way to multiply most house plants. They will root easily in either water or rooting medium. Old woody growth is more difficult than younger growth, but very new growth is generally unsatisfactory. Any of the trailing or bushy Gesneriads do well by this method, especially Columneas and Aeschynanthus. Tip cuttings or Kohlerias frequently make better plants than those started from rhizomes.

Scaly rhizomes are a natural method of vegetative propagation for some Gesneriads. These storage roots generally form toward the end of the growing season. They resemble small pine cones, although some rhizomes, such as Kohleria, may grow to considerable length and wind around inside the pot. The rhizomes are harvested when the top of the plant dies back after flowering. This is easier if the soil is allowed to dry out so the rhizomes break quite easily, but pieces or even single scales can generate new plants. In Achimenes especially, one plant grown from a rhizome will produce fifteen to twenty new rhizomes by the end of the summer. The rhizomes should be planted horizontally and covered by not more than an inch of soil.

Scaly rhizomes may also appear in the leaf axils, usually at the end of the growing season or in protest of poor cultural conditions. These are termed propagules and can be separated off and planted. Titanotrichum has a curious whiplike growth covered with small scales which can be rubbed off and planted like seed.

Sinningias, X Gloxineras and Rechsteinerias grow from tubers. These generally do not multiply, only increase in diameter with age, therefore single leaves or shoots are used to multiply these plants. The tubers should be planted just below the surface of the soil and the pot should be shallow but large enough in diameter to allow plenty of growth room.

The ends of cuttings can be dusted with a rooting powder, but this is not particularly necessary as Gesneriads root so easily. However, a fungicide is frequently beneficial in preventing rot. If rotting does occur on a cutting, sometimes it can be saved by cutting out the bad section and dusting the cut with sulphur. Rotting generally indicates too damp conditions and poor air circulation.

Labeling cuttings or leaves is always a problem. Adhesive or marking tape can be used on leaves, but it does not always stay on in a damp atmosphere. The stem can be put through a hole in a slip of paper marked with heavy pencil. With luck this will remain legible until the leaf can be potted up. If plastic bags contain only one item, the slip can be put on the outside. If the material is rooted in a flat, each piece can have a small plastic label, which can be transferred to the pot at the proper time.

The important points to consider in propagation are to keep the material in an atmosphere of adequate humidity to keep the leaves from drying out and to keep the rooting end of the cutting in a damp medium which permits air circulation. Adequate light is necessary to keep the chlorophyll in working order to feed new growth. Strong sunlight and overheating will be damaging, however. The temperature should be kept between 7O~75 degrees if possible. Bottom heat will usually speed rooting, if it can be provided. Trial and error will demonstrate the best results in your particular conditions. Some are more successful with one method than another.