You can get anything on eBay. I’ve been using the site for years and have recently expanded my eBay experience. Last summer I ordered some iris rhizomes from a grower in Indiana and they were better than anything I could have bought locally. Yesterday I received something else from eBay – african violet leaves.
I’ve been growing african violets for a long time but all of the plants that I have are generic plants that I’ve acquired from garden stores. While I have a nice assortment of plants, I wanted to start growing some named violet varieties. You can order small plants from a number of internet sites but eBay offers a large selection of african violet leaves at a much better price. While it takes a little time, propagating a violet leaf is very easy, so I decided to place an order.
When I opened the box I was surprised at what I found. The leaves of each variety were sealed in their own plastic bag which was labeled with the variety name and the characteristics of the plant and flowers. I was even more amazed when I opened the bag and saw that each petiole (the stalk of a leaf that attaches the blade to the stem) of each leaf was wrapped in a strip of damp paper towel which was then sealed with plastic wrap. This technique must be very tedious but the results were amazing. The leaves looked and felt fresh-cut – you would never have know that they had traveled from Florida to Pennsylvania.
After making a fresh cut at the end of the petioles, I inserted the leaves into a small pot filled with moistened soiless potting mix, using a separate pot for each variety. The five pots went into a plastic container with a lid that I can leave ajar. This acts as a mini greenhouse, ensuring that the air around the leaves remains more humid than the outside air. I placed the container in a bright spot that doesn’t get any direct sunlight. I’ll be keeping an eye on the soil to make sure that it doesn’t dry out.
If all goes well, the leaves should start to root in a few week – a gentle tug on the leaf will let me know if it’s rooted or not. Once they’ve rooted, I’ll take the pots out of the plastic container, put them with my other violets and wait for small plantlets to form. When they do, I’ll post some pictures.