The vegetable garden is planted, the flower beds are growing and the rain is falling. It’s good day to spend some time with the african violets.
I noticed that one of the eBay violets has a small plantlet emerging from the potting mix. I planted them in early March so it’s a two or more month process to go from a leaf to a plant. Now how long it’ll take this tiny plant to bloom is something only time will tell – I’m thinking late fall or early winter.
I’ve been reading about violet care on two sites: Optimara www.optimara.com and the Violet Barn www.violetbarn.com. Both provide great information on growing african violets. I’ve been growing violets for years but after checking these sites, I realized that while I thought I was repotting my plants, the fact is that I’ve never repotted a plant in my life; I’ve alway up-potted. When you repot a plant you remove some of the soil and then return the plant to the same pot or one of the same size. In up-potting, you put the plant into a larger pot.
African violets don’t get that large and in most cases a 4″ pot it big enough. If you keep up-potting, the pot will be too large for the plant; violets need repotting. People who grow violets for shows and competition recommend that you repot at least twice a year. Now I can’t imagine being that obsessive but all of my violets have been in the same pot for at least a year.
So I did some repotting for the first time. After removing the plant from the original pot, I snapped off any old or dead leaves and removed a fair amount of the soil from the plant. I then used some fresh potting soil (a light, fluffy soiless mix to which I added some additional vermiculte and perlite for drainage) and repotted the plants. I planted all of them so that the lowest leaves are at the soil surface.
When plants are growing well, the ratio of leaves to roots is in perfect balance, allowing the plant to absorb water as quickly as it is lost from the leaves through transpiration. When repotting, I caused major root damage and threw off the leaf:root balance. So for the next few weeks I’ll keep an eye on the repotted violets. I think they’ll be OK but if they start to wilt – a sign that the roots aren’t absorbing enough water – I’ll put them into a plastic container to create a mini greenhouse. This will increase the humidity of the air, decrease the transpiration from the leaves and allow the roots to grow and bring the plant back into balance.
While repotting I found that a couple of plants had offsets. An offset is a small plant that grows from the base of the original plant. If you let them grow, the violet will lose its even shape and the plant can become crowded. So I cut the offsets off of the plant and placed them in a pot. I’m keeping them in an enclosed plastic container until they develop some roots.
My houseplants tend to be neglected during the spring and summer growing season because my focus is on the plants outside. So I’m thankful for a rainy day when I can tend to the neglected houseplants.