Gesneriads forum: All About African Violets!

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Name: Kara
Georgia (Zone 8a)
Engineer, artist, student
Cactus and Succulents Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1
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kararenee
Dec 17, 2014 7:51 PM CST
Happy Holidays ATP!

I was wondering if you guys had any tips and tricks for growing African Violets indoors. Are there any particular varieties you like? And which watering scheme do you prefer? One of the ceramic pot-in-pot self watering pots, or a wicking method?

Thank you so much!
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Dec 19, 2014 8:31 AM CST
Hi Kara,

I think since it's the holidays and everyone is so busy this time of year it may be a few days before you get any response or tips regarding growing African Violets but hopefully someone will pop in soon.

I used to grow AV's and other Gesneriads and I grew a few in the self watering pots and others in small plastic pots; with some I used wicks and others I didn't. It's been awhile so I can't really say if one method worked better for my conditions than another. While the more professional folks who grow African Violets for show invest in the large plant stands with lights, some folks just will just grow in bright windowsills or perhaps only have one grow light for a couple of plants. I didn't want to invest a lot of money in lights/equipment since my attention span is that of a gnat anymore so I purchased two of those metal shelves from Wal-Mart and also bought lights at the same time and just rigged them to the stands which worked well for me. These aren't the greatest photos and they are from about 7 or 8 years ago when I grew Gesneriads but you can see one of the plant stands I rigged with lights. Some plants I'd have in plastic pots with wicks out the drainage hole and then I'd sit the pot into another container with a little water.
Thumb of 2014-12-19/plantladylin/57e40b Thumb of 2014-12-19/plantladylin/fc5bb2 Thumb of 2014-12-19/plantladylin/1db647

~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
Name: Fiat
Modesto -The Central Valley of (Zone 9b)
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fiat
Jan 21, 2015 6:16 PM CST
Hi, I am surprised that only few posts (actually the starting post and one reply) showed up in this thread. I am a beginner of houseplant grower. Just the other day, I bought this beautiful AV from a local grocery store. The store worker told me the pot the plant grows in is actually a double-pot. Her tip on water is every 4, 5 days. I thought it sort of easy care plant until I ran into this thread. Unfortunately, so little info here. Hope all you AV growers come to help and share your good experience. Thanks
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If a plant looks good, smells good, don't eat it, grow it!
Fiat

Plantomaniac08
Jan 21, 2015 6:25 PM CST
I don't believe it should be watered on a schedule. Lighting and temperatures can vary based on the time of year, so your plant will dry out at different intervals.

I believe an East window is best for these, but I've read people successfully growing them in North windows. Avoid West and South, as they both have afternoon sun and will burn it.

I'll leave when to water to someone else, I still haven't mastered it myself.

I don't know the opinion of folks on ATP with regards to what kind of water to use. Some believe that chloramine is detrimental to the health of an AV and so is chlorine, either of which may be found in your tap water (more likely chlorine, but some cities have started using chloramine). My Mother uses bottled water to avoid adding anything fround from tap water. No hard or soft water either.

Fertilizing weakly, weekly is best. 1/4 strength a week is best. Avoid AV fertilizers with chlorine added to them.

I hope this gets you started.

Planto
Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
Grandchildren are my greatest joy.
Charter ATP Member Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Annuals Echinacea Vegetable Grower Hybridizer
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Paul2032
Jan 21, 2015 6:32 PM CST
I grow AV's in an east facing window. I water every 4-5 days. I pick up the plants and if the pot feels heavy I wait another day. If it feels light I water.
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Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: Fiat
Modesto -The Central Valley of (Zone 9b)
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fiat
Jan 22, 2015 1:10 PM CST
Pardon me if sound naive. So, AV sounds like a rather delicate plant? Needing lot attention and care? Do they bloom all year round? or just in winter? The water thing doesn't change as season changes? I don't understand the double-pot thing that the store lady told me; maybe its all about watering? The outside one looks and feels like metal with no drain hole at bottom and soil top is covered by dry moss; can't see the inside pot. I placed mine a bit away from east window and under north skylight. Do water every 4-5 days (this is the only one I water so frequently in winter!)

Hope I can catch everything for it. Please advise if I miss anything. Thanks
If a plant looks good, smells good, don't eat it, grow it!
Fiat
Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
Grandchildren are my greatest joy.
Charter ATP Member Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Annuals Echinacea Vegetable Grower Hybridizer
Tomato Heads Garden Photography Birds Cut Flowers Foliage Fan Plays in the sandbox
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Paul2032
Jan 22, 2015 1:34 PM CST
Fiat.....you are NOT naive. We all learn by asking questions. I find AV's to be easy. They will bloom several times a year if you keep them growing well. I would remove the moss. To me the second pot is just decorative. I water sometimes from the top and other times from the bottom. To water from the bottom I sit them in a bowl of water for about 20 minutes and then set the pot on a couple of thickness of paper towel to wick out excess moisture. When I water from the top I add water until it runs out of the drainage holes. Do not let them sit for long periods of time in the water. Every 4-5 days for water sounds fine.
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah

Plantomaniac08
Jan 22, 2015 2:52 PM CST
AVs are easy to some, hard for others. But I personally wouldn't call them fussy. Some cultivars are more fussy than others, variegated species require cooler temperatures for example But overall as a plant, not fussy. And you're not naive.

The thing about the chlorine/chloramine, Dracaenas are known to develop fluoride burn from tap water. That doesn't make them fussy, they're just more sensitive to it. Same with AVs and chlorine.

Planto
Name: Fiat
Modesto -The Central Valley of (Zone 9b)
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fiat
Jan 22, 2015 3:21 PM CST
Ok, thanks everyone. But down to the bottom: what happen if over-water? what if under-water? I know eventually they'll die, but what are the immediate happenings (signs before getting worse)?
If a plant looks good, smells good, don't eat it, grow it!
Fiat
Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
Grandchildren are my greatest joy.
Charter ATP Member Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Annuals Echinacea Vegetable Grower Hybridizer
Tomato Heads Garden Photography Birds Cut Flowers Foliage Fan Plays in the sandbox
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Paul2032
Jan 22, 2015 3:28 PM CST
Over watering will cause root rot. The plants can not then take up water and they will wilt. If you under-water the plants they will also wilt. This can look similar and can be a little confusing. Better to under water slightly. If I forget to water I sometimes see that the leaves are a little limp and then water and they perk right up. Error with a little under watering. I have read many many times that over watering is the most common cause of failure in growing a plant.
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Jan 22, 2015 4:06 PM CST
fiat: Usually with the double pot method, the bottom pot has no drainage and acts as a reservoir to hold the water. The second smaller pot (with the plant) sits inside the "reservoir pot" with a wick trailing down through the soil and out the drain hole. The wick draws up water to the plant as needed. I've known people who've used nylon twine for plant wicks as well as yarn and nylon stockings cut into strips. When I grew AV's I tried the nylon stocking strips but they drew up way too much water and I found the soil staying too soggy, causing rot.

Some folks like to use just regular shallow plastic pots for their AV's and they place a piece of felt in the bottom of a rectangular tray and sit the pots on top of the felt. Water is added to the tray to keep the felt moist and the capillary action draws water up into the soil.

You can read more about self-watering pots here at the Optimara site: http://www.optimara.com/selfwateringtechnology.html
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
Name: Fiat
Modesto -The Central Valley of (Zone 9b)
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fiat
Jan 22, 2015 7:52 PM CST
Thanks, Planto & Paul & Lin for all the useful/helpful info. For now, I am not to venture into the double-pot stuff with my AV. But since it's kind of cool having moss covering, I just water on top through moss and presumably down to the 'reservoir' outside pot. Hope I am doing it right. Please stop & correct me if wrong. Thanks
If a plant looks good, smells good, don't eat it, grow it!
Fiat
Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
Grandchildren are my greatest joy.
Charter ATP Member Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Annuals Echinacea Vegetable Grower Hybridizer
Tomato Heads Garden Photography Birds Cut Flowers Foliage Fan Plays in the sandbox
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Paul2032
Jan 22, 2015 7:55 PM CST
There is a very overused and trite saying "there is more than one way to skin a cat". Experiment and decide what works for you. If something doesn't work try something else......
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: Linda
Omaha, N.E (Zone 5b)
Always room to plant one more!
Cat Lover Birds Region: Nebraska Butterflies Hummingbirder Garden Ideas: Level 1
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freedombel
Jan 31, 2015 3:33 PM CST
My AV use to bloom numerous times. Then it has been droopy and not bloomed again, so I re potted it today in a new same size pot and new soil.
I also feed it as recommended. Thinking back the only thing I did was relocate it and now I put it right back where it use to do the blooming.
I am also trying a experiment as I hear they propagate from a leaf and I am doing that as a you tub, video instructed...has anyone had luck
with propagation?, I guess unless I try I will never know, and if it does not work I always give it another go or two before I give up.
You can complain because roses have thorns, or you can rejoice because they have roses!
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
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plantladylin
Jan 31, 2015 3:55 PM CST
Years ago I propagated AV's by leaf cuttings all the time. Some folks have great luck rooting leaves in water and although that worked for me really well, I always had difficulty getting those watery roots to take to soil once I planted them ... so, I just went with rooting the leaves in soil. It sometimes took what seemed like forever to see those tiny little new plantlets pop out but well worth it when they finally did.

Here's a great tutorial at The Violet Barn website showing step by step instructions for propagating leaf cuttings: http://www.violetbarn.com/lessons/violets_by_leaf.htm
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
Name: Linda
Omaha, N.E (Zone 5b)
Always room to plant one more!
Cat Lover Birds Region: Nebraska Butterflies Hummingbirder Garden Ideas: Level 1
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freedombel
Jan 31, 2015 4:24 PM CST
[quote="plantladylin"]Years ago I propagated AV's by leaf cuttings all the time. Some folks have great luck rooting leaves in water and although that worked for me really well, I always had difficulty getting those watery roots to take to soil once I planted them ... so, I just went with rooting the leaves in soil. It sometimes took what seemed like forever to see those tiny little new plantlets pop out but well worth it when they finally did.

Here's a great tutorial at The Violet Barn website showing step by step instructions for propagating leaf cuttings: ]http://www.violetbarn.com/lessons/violets_by_leaf.htm[/quote...

The part I do not get, is does it just stay in the bag for a very long time and I water it and return it to the bag?

You can complain because roses have thorns, or you can rejoice because they have roses!
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
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plantladylin
Jan 31, 2015 4:39 PM CST
The plastic bag is to provide extra humidity (like a makeshift greenhouse) to help speed the rooting process. I tried that method a couple of times but it's very humid where I live and everything turned to mush quickly so I discontinued using plastic. You can leave the little pots inside the bags until you see new little plantlets arising from the mother leaf. Just be very careful when watering, whether the pots are covered with plastic or out in the open. If using the plastic bag method be sure the plastic does not touch the leaf. I used to take a short glass and turn it upside down in the bag to hold the plastic above the top of the containers ... wooden skewers work well too and are inexpensive. I used to buy packs of them at the dollar store and I think there were a dozen or more in per pack.
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
Name: Linnea
Southern Maine, border 5b/6a (Zone 5b)
Irises Winter Sowing Plant and/or Seed Trader Permaculture Composter Organic Gardener
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Linneaj
Feb 7, 2015 9:18 PM CST
I have about 30 AV babies and leaves going. I never use bags or wicks. Most of them are in my housemates single serve pudding cups with some drainage holes gashed into them. I have lost a few leaves by not watering on time, but not many. I use south east and south west windows. I have one small LED grow lamp over many houseplants about 4 feet in from the south west window. Here are some of my violets:
Kilauea sport-crossed with the next one. Waiting to see if the seed pods are full.
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Lyon's Monique
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Rhapsodie Rita
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Rita, different season, different window.
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Optimara NoID
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Don't make fear based decisions.
[Last edited by Linneaj - Sep 12, 2016 6:06 PM (+)]
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Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

Tomato Heads
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texaskitty111
Feb 17, 2015 1:25 PM CST
I'm glad i found this thread because im considering buying some AV. I would like to know if this stacked pot is too large for AV?

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the individual pots are 4" wide by 6" deep. If 6" is too much, should I stuff moss or gravel, or what in there?
Also, who do you buy YOUR AV from?
Thank You!

Cauliflower is just a cabbage with a college education (mark twain)
Name: Fiat
Modesto -The Central Valley of (Zone 9b)
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fiat
Feb 17, 2015 1:29 PM CST
There seems no drainage hole in any of indi pots?
If a plant looks good, smells good, don't eat it, grow it!
Fiat

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