Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!!!

Happy New Year to everyone!

Note the lovely "crown" these rare birds have? They are perhaps related to the Crowned Cranes of Africa. These would be Crowned Flamingos though.

This year promises to be a very good "plant" year. I would ask members of the club, and anyone else who likes to participate in plant related chat, discussion and information gathering to really make the effort to help with the blog.

As the blog "care taker" I haven't made many entries for a while, considering if this was a good media to exchange ideas and get participation from folks. I think that it's probably better and more cost effective than paper news letters, and it's got the potential to be much more fun and interactive. What I would like to know is what form this should take to be of service to our club and other violet/gesneriad liking people. I can make entries about most plant topics, but it is the participation that is important. Ideas???? Let us know.

Have a most delightful New Year. Let the plants grow!!!!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Guttation is a secretion of fluid from a plant's leaf that comes onto the surface of the leaf out of specialized pores called hydrathodes.

This process happens when the surrounding humidity in the air is high, the soil moisture is high and the rate of transpiration (evaporation) is low. Plants enclosed in a terrarium will sometimes exhibit this phenomenon.

When the water being secreted contains minerals in the solution, like calcium, it will leave a whitish crust on the surface of the leaf when it dries.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Something Different

Look what's blooming! Right after the first big snow of the season there is a bit of exciting and exotic color right among the usual greenery. This is an Impatiens niamniamensis, commonly known as a Congo Cockatoo. It's a very young plant but it looks like it will be easy to keep in bloom.

Remember to try out some new and different plants to keep things interesting! If there is always a surprise waiting in the plant room, more time will be spent tending and enjoying the plants. Many plant families do as well under fluorescents as the violets do.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Peloric Flowers

Here are some photos of a peloric flower and the attempt to see if the trait will carry over in its offspring from seed.

The first two photos are of a normal strep blossom. It has a "pansy" shape and the throat decorations are on the bottom three petals. This is a nice size flower.

The next photo is of the peloric flower. A radially symmetric flower with all petals even and the throat decoration on all petals. The next photo shows the flower being self pollinated.

The seed pods are formed .... and the last photo shows that this is a generously sized pod. I can't wait for the seeds to ripen.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

More Fall Show Spectacular

More photos of the Fall Show at Bachman's.

Look at the blooms on this Columnea!

A natural oak burl garden.

One of my favorite violets. Rainbow's Quiet Riot by GP.

Happy Halloween.

A lot of lovely violets on display!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Fall Show Spectacular

Here are some of the beautiful flowers that were displayed at the Fall Show at Bachman's last weekend. Enjoy!

Happy Face displayed by MKF!

Ness' Blueberry Puff displayed by MKF!

Peppermint Girl shown by PH!

Ness' Antique Rose by PH!

Bold Party Girl displayed by CS!

Ness' Satin Rose shown by CS!

Positively Pink shown by SJ!

B-Man's Corleone displayed by SJ!

Warm Sunshine shown by GP!

Strawberry Daiquiri shown by GP!

Click on the photos for a larger, close-up view.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Show Show Show!!!

The Fall Display at Bachman's on Lyndale is coming right up. Saturday the 27th and Sunday the 28th of October 2007!!!

Bring plants to display, arrangements and dish gardens, terrariums and natural gardens.... bring them all so that we have a great show for the public!!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Premier Event!!!

Check out the newest, the latest and most lovely! A new Sora hybrid that's so new it doesn't have an officially registered name yet. Do you have any ideas for its name? Use your imagination! ..... email and let us know!!!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Update! Read All About It.

You may recall that on July 29 pictures were posted with a request for your opinion as to what might be the cause of the lost centers. Comments ranged from fertilizer burn to heat or potting stress to mites. I knew it was not mites, but was pretty open to potting or heat stress since it was very hot this summer and all the plants had recently been repotted.

So here’s what I did. The center of each plant was sprayed with fungicide and gently dabbed dry with a cotton swab. As the new center leaves either completely or partially turned soft and brown, they were totally or partially removed, being very careful not to do any excessive damage to the tiniest new leaves. I removed some of the potting medium from the top so it was slightly below the bottom leaf stems. I did not change my lighting or fertilizer schedule nor did I repot the plants.

Here are the original pictures and ones of the plants two months later.

Yukako looks great. The new leaves have filled in nicely and it has continued to bloom.

The leaves on Lyon’s Fortune Teller are filling in, but it has some major groom secessions coming up in the future.

Ma’s Winter Moon did not recover. However, it did produce some good suckers. Here is one recently potted up to a 2-1/2” pot.

Sora Munchie obviously did not recover either. But, as you can see, it has at least three good strong suckers which will be potted soon.

So now my question is - what would you have done with these plants? Would you have tossed them figuring they had some horrible disease or pest? Would you have worked with them? Since I had already paid once for the two chimeras and didn’t want to order just one plant to get Ma’s Winter Moon again, I opted to work with them. ...... Many thanks to Barb W. for the wonderful pictures and article!!!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Egads! There's a FUNGUS "amung-us"!

Fungi basics: Although most people think of fungi as plants, they actually more closely related to animals. The biggest difference between fungi and plants is how they obtain nutrients. All plants possess chloroplasts which allow them to produce sugars using carbon dioxide and water as the raw materials and sunlight as the energy source. Fungi are unable to create their own food using sunlight, and instead feed off of other organisms. Most fungi are detritivores that consume dead organic matter such as rotting wood or leaves. They excrete digestive enzymes onto their potential meal and absorb the dissolved nutrients.

The other main difference between plants and fungi is that all plants have a cell wall composed to cellulose. While fungi do have a cell wall, it is composed of a different substance called chitin. Chitin is the same molecule that makes up the exoskeletons of insects.

Although when we think of fungi we envision mushrooms, this is not the main part of the fungi. The mushroom is strictly a sexual organ, like a flower on a plant. It only appears when a fungus is ready to produce spores. The rest of the fungus, called the mycelium, generally looks like a mass of thread-like tendrils. The mycelium is rarely seen because it is normally underground or within what it’s decomposing.

Fungi are important because not only do they decompose dead organisms and release the nutrients trapped within, they are actually necessary for many plants to grow in the first place. For example, for a very long time cultivating orchids was nearly impossible, and nobody was quite sure why. The reason turned out to be that the orchids required a fungal symbiont to successfully germinate by providing it with food. An orchid seed is so small that without it’s fungus it doesn’t have enough food to survive, and the fungus continues to help it even after it has established by providing certain nutrients. It has recently been discovered that almost all plants have at least some fungal symbionts that help it survive. Although not all are as dependent on their fungi as orchids are, many plants would surely not exist if it were not for their fungal partners. Do the gesneriad depend on fungal partners???

Many, many thanks to Scientist Lynn for making this understandable!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Club Plant Experiments

Here it is September already. Everyone should have thought about getting an experiment ready for the club project. I'm going to see if there is any difference in the growth and overall vigor of a plant that is watered with plain tap water and one that is "fed" each time it gets watered with a solution of tap water and dissolved nutrients.

My two plants pictured here both came from a big box store and have just been on a light shelf for the past couple of months. They are acclimated to my house and conditions.

Both are starting out fairly equal. Both have approximately the same number of leaves and are the same variety, the same size and have the same number of flowers. Each plant is roughly 8 inches across.

One bottle will hold tap water for plant number one.
The second bottle will hold fertilized water for plant number two.

Plant number one is roughly round with a diameter of about 8 inches.

(You can click on any of the photos for a larger view!)

Plant number two is a bit more oval with a nine inch "long side" and a 7 inch "short side". That averages out to both plants being about 8 inches across.

The plants will sit on a light stand evenly centered under the lights and they will periodically switch sides from left to right to keep things even. I will try to photograph them every couple of weeks to see if and when there is any noticeable difference in growth or size or appearance.

What are you going to do for YOUR club experiment???? Something simple.... or complex.... we will all learn something interesting from EVERY member participating! Please start your project now so that we will have some preliminary results to examine at the January meeting. The experiments may run longer!!!! If you have questions contact we'll be glad to assist with ideas, methods or other concerns!!!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

How They Do That....

A florist's gloxinia unfolds over the course of two days. This is a double unnamed hybrid.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Just Because....

Just because this is so pretty. Hibiscus 'The Path'.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

"Dis-buds" for You.

Guess what time of year it is again? Yep, it's BUD time. No, not time to grab a cold one and sit back with the ball game on, it is the time to disbud for the upcoming show which is now 8 weeks away!

If you are grooming many plants for a show it's sometimes hard to look up each and every plant to determine if it's a single or a double. So, to make things relatively simple, you disbud all standard plants at eight weeks. Doubles could be done at 8 weeks and single-bloom plants at 6 weeks, but that can get confusing not to mention time consuming.

It's also a good time to look at the leaf placement and the overall grooming of the plant. You could gently re-align leaves at this time so that they will be in the optimal position by Oct. Seeing that the plant is in good shape and clean now will prevent accidentally knocking off blooms or leaves closer to the show too.

Any questions about getting plants ready for a show???? Contact the blog at and experts will be happy to answer your questions and lend a guiding hand for anyone that would like some advice.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

It's The Great State Fair!

Time again for the 12 biggest days of summer!!!! Food, fun and FLOWERS!!!

The horticulture building is featuring the African violet show starting today, Thursday August 23, 2007. Lots of violets, gesneriads and design. The AVSM is hosting the show with additional affiliate club tables all featuring lots of beautiful plants!!!

Get on down to the Fair and grab something on a stick before you go and check it out. Bring your camera too!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Everyone Needs One of These!!!

You might be like me and you've definitely noticed that there aren't a lot of books, publications or decent printed materials about growing gesneriads. I might hazard a guess and say that one of the last inclusive books about a good variety of gesneriads was published about thirty years ago in the 1970's. This brand new book looks like it will be a wonderful guide to growing gesneriads and if you read about the offer, they are practically giving them away. What a great deal! Their publication chair has this to say:
The Gesneriad Society is proud to announce the pending publication of
its manual "How to Know and Grow Gesneriads". Publication date is
September 1, 2007. The cover price of "How to Know and Grow
Gesneriads" will be US$10. Quantity discounts will be available.

Thanks to a generous donation from the Frelinghuysen Arboretum
Gesneriad Society, all Gesneriad Society members will receive a copy
in the mail with their 4th Quarter 2007 issue of Gesneriads, to be
mailed in October.

We are offering a special pre-publication price of US$5 until
September 1. That means only the next 10 days. So of you aren't a
Society member, or if you are curious and can't wait until
October/November, or if you want to buy copies for friends, here's
your chance. Go to
for more information.

--Peter Shalit, Publications Chair, The Gesneriad Society

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Art to A-Maze

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is one of the BEST ways to enjoy a summer day for plant lovers - and also for those who haven't discovered that they are plant lovers yet. (After seeing the Arboretum they will be!)

This year's special feature is an art installation called Art to A-Maze! The Arboretum says, "Explore the relationship between people and the natural world on the Art to A-Maze Walk, featuring a juried collection of 15 installations of environmental art and sculpture. The art walk leads visitors from the Oswald Visitor Center to the new permanent Maze Garden."

This is the permanent knot garden viewed from above in the herb display.

The mazes were just one of the wonderful parts about spending the day there. Besides seeing all the brilliant flowers, there is something to learn in each display. The collections show you all the various choices if you are thinking about choosing some plant materials for your own yard.

The annual displays highlight the newest, the most vigorous and the unusual while the tram tour gives you a great chance to preview all the places that you'll want to visit on your own so that you can spend some time really seeing all that there is to see.

The hosta collection/glade has over 300 different hostas spread out under the canopy of mature maples, all labeled for the viewer.

The formal hybrid rose gardens have hundreds of roses... tree roses, miniatures, floribunda and more.

The gold fish must have had an excellent year so far if the number of tiny fish is an indication. It's Koi heaven.

And sometimes you just need a little whimsy to make the journey complete. It might be a warthog, but then again....