January 10, 2013

Taking Babies From Mama Leaf -- How To

Here is how I transplant babies from an African violet 'mama' leaf.  Note, I say 'transplanting' babies from mama leaf, and I say 'potting up' babies when they have outgrown this first pot and need to be moved 'up' to a larger pot.  Some say pota-toe, some say pat-tato.

I have found one good way to start and that makes seperating and planting a tray of babies quick and easy.  Start right and you will end up happy. 
  • Begin with labels and a waterproof marker.  Use labels or tape pieces with permanent adhesive.
  • Have small pots in many sizes stacked right there.  It is easy to use a pot that is too small or too large when there are lots of pots there, but none of the correct size. 
    I like to use a pot with the volume of soil mix about three times the amount of roots.  You can just guess... it isn't an exact science.  Don't go by the size of the crown/top. 
    *** If you put small babies in small pots, and larger babies with larger root systems in larger pots, you will be able to just pour water in the tray and leave them drink up for a half hour, without worry about over or under watering.  The larger amount of soil mix will soak up more water, which is needed by the larger baby, and the smaller pots will soak up less and you will be less likely to drown the smaller, slower growing babies.  This way I can put many babies of different sizes, varieties, and rate of growth in the same tray, and for the next two months, they will not need individual attention!
  • Have water, with fertilizer/additives, ready.  Do you have enough soil mix?  Have a clean tray with dome standing ready.
Left, is a photo of my table this morning. At the top of the photo, is my tray of mama leaves, as well as two square cell packs on the table.
On the right is a sheet of labels and marker.
I just potted up two babies.  The 'discard' pile is near the tip of the pen.
Out of sight on the left, is a green Rubbermaid tub of potting mix.  Out of sight on the right, is a tray waiting for the baby pots.

Here is a mama leaf of Splendiferous, with the clump of babies.

Just 'tease' apart the clump. First I pull the mama leaf away, and the two smallest not yet mature babies came with her.  There are six other babies.
The two smallest, not yet mature babies, came with her (on right). These I would discard unless the leaf was a rare or expensive one.
In the middle, are three small babies, and the largest babies are at the bottom.
The baby on the bottom right has the best potential for shape, root size, and number of leaves.  It also was the first to reach this size, and it may also have a bit extra vitality.
I had decided to limit the number of babies so had chosen four as a good number of each variety, as four pots fit across the tray, making one row for each variety.  :)
Of the above babies, I chose the two on the right on the bottom row. and the two on left of the top row.  NOTE:  The baby on the left on the bottom, while having five leaves, had a funny looking crown.  It may have grown up to grow normally, but since I had the two strong ones above.  Although smaller, they were naturally better shaped. :)
Sort of feel like I am an over-demanding soccer mother, expecting them to do better than normal even when young!  :)
When the tray was full, I soaked the pots with water containing a small amount of Neptune's Harvest Seaweed Plant Food, and a dilute measure of Jack's Classic 20-20-20. 
I have been re-reading AVMagazines from 2005 and 7, and at that time, it seemed everyone was using seaweed extract when rooting leaves and planting babies.  So, I decided to try it on this tray!
P.S.  I did measure the Seaweed and the Jack's Classic!  And wrote it down.  If it works well, I want to be able to duplicate it!  If it does harm, the amounts may help discover why!

No comments: