June 14, 2013

Excellence in African Violets

I LOVED this article! There were many things mentioned in the article that I do as part of 'Trusted Routine', and that I think are very important! :)

"In Search of Excellence" by Betty Tapping. Betty has been a long-time member and friend of Lakeshore African Violet Society. Although she has retired from growing African violets she still keeps up her connections with our society and still lives in our community. This article will help growers achieve excellence in their plants with tips from Betty, an excellent grower and exhibitor of African violets.

This article has all the basics, although they aren't laid out as 1, 2, and 3.
Do what Betty says, and you will have nice show-quality plants AND also be organized and neat!!!

The article is deceptively simple, and you might overlook these important things!  So, allow me to give you a guided tour of the article!

First paragraph:  Betty learn from others' wisdom, but allow yourself to experiment and learn from your mistakes!  I would put this first in my article also:  Learning, the easy way from someone else, or the hard way by trial and error, is the FUN of this African violet hobby!

Next in the article, Betty explains she always has plants at various stages of growth:  from leaf pots with babies, young starters, mid sized pots, and larger show plants.  This lets her use her space better.  I agree!!!!  This is one way I can list 149 varieties I have in my house, and have at least three plants of each variety!  I do this!!!!

Betty says pot size is important.  To me, pot size used is VERY important.  Some varieties have smaller root systems, and thrive better in smaller pots.  And pot size is most important in very small babies as you transplant from the mama leaf and again when the plant is mature such as more than 18 months old.  I have certain pots that are shaped and sized just right, and if I have a small baby of a tempermental variety, I always put them in my 'good pots'!

"Some plants do perform better than others."  NOTE THIS!  Many people say:  my violet isn't blooming.  The first thing I want to know is the variety name. Sometimes it is a plant that takes longer to rebloom, or doesn't do as well in windowlight, or high temperatures.  Some hybrids will do better than others.  Read Betty's paragraph in the article.

I could go on and on.... each point in the article is a good one.  Each sentence had something that I found made African violet growing easier, better, or more fun!

All Early 2013 Experiments End-- JUNE CONCLUSION

Updating Experiment #4 Comparing Soil Mix Additions

I didn't see much difference in these plants.  The two pots with additions to my basic recipe did MAYBE hold water a bit longer than the slightly looser 1/3 peat 1/3 vermiculite 1/3 perlite.  However, in March, all three plants were budded and blooming so I sold them at the Harlem Seed Show.  If I had to choose one that did better, it would have been the plant in my basic soil mix without any additions.

I did not take a photo of them before I sold them!  Sorry! 
This photo was taken February 2.

Updating Experiment #3 Grow to Show Comparisons

I also sold several of these plants in March.
These photos were taken February 2nd.
Plants on the left of each photo was disbudded and the plant on the right was left bloom as it wanted.
All three of the disbudded plants were beginning to open buds and looked nice enough they were among the first to sell at the Seed Show!

Optimara Trinidad:

Not Star Eclipse (turned out to be Spectacular Blue!):

In all three sets of plants, the one on the disbudding schedule had more even foliage, and were just loaded with buds!

Updating Experiment #2 Watering Methods

I didn't take photos of these plants either!  And they were all blooming or budded and I sold them!
I had four plants. Two were in saucers to be bottom watered, one was potted true Texas-style and water was kept at a constant level every day.  One plant was on an automatic waterer using a circle of capillary matting with a 'tongue' hanging down in the water.  The fourth plant was wicked using a piece of acrylic yarn.

Of these, the Texas-style and the wicked one using the yarn were noticably larger, and were a bit advanced in bloom.  The one watered by saucer had wilted several times.

Updating Experiment #2 Soil versus Soil-Less

In this experiment, one pot in each set was a clay pot with 100% garden soil, and a second pot was plastic with my traditional mix.  In the set of smaller pots, a third pot contained Miracle Gro AV soil mix.
Final conclusions for this experiment: 
In the set of smaller pots, the worst performing one was the Miracle Gro soil.  This plant was smaller and slower to mature.  I did fertilize this pot after the first month.
The small clay pot with garden loam bloomed a bit later but had 5 more leaves, even though the leaf span measured the same.
In the set of two plants of Amethyst, both plants struggled as they were in the window light, which was weak because of the winter season.  I didn't have space or time to find a better place so there they remained.
The following photo was taken February 2nd. 


 I have a recent photo of these plants!!!!
The following photo is taken June 114th:
The plant on the left is the Amethyst potted in my traditional mix.  The Amethyst plant on the right is in a clay pot with garden loam.

Today, the plant in my traditional mix is larger with more leaves.  At the moment, it has a great number of blossoms.  Two months ago, mid-April, they both began a heavy round of bloom.  The plant in the garden soil bloomed about a week longer, but in the weeks since, the plant in my traditional soil mix has sent up more total blossom stalks.

The plant in garden soil does go several days longer before needing water.  The blossom stems are possibly shorter, but the leaf stems are longer.  ?????

Right now, I like my traditional mix!  :)