The Q&A Archives: Germinating Gesneriads

Question: I germinated some Gesnariad seeds ( a mix ) three weeks ago resulting in some very delicate seedlings. I have put the trays under growing lights and seem to be getting a good response from the plants. Some of the seedlings have developed a second set of leaves but they still look so tiny and frail that I hesitate to transplant them. How long does it usually take for them to mature into a flowering plant? They seem so tiny even for seedlings.

Answer: Gesneriads can be a number of different kinds of plants; most commonly grown are African Violets and Gloxinias. If you've been successful in germinating the seeds, and your seedlings are thriving, don't worry too much about transplanting them. The usual motive for transplanting is to give each plant enough room to develop roots without having to compete with its neighbors for moisture and nutrients. I'd wait until the leaves of the plants have developed to the point that they're recognizable. Once you've figured out what you're growing, you can transplant them into individual pots and give them the degree of light they each require. Once someone gave me a miniature Saintpaulia (African Violet), that grew for a year in a one-inch pot! It flowered when it was two years old. Good luck with your new plants!

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