Friday, March 23, 2007

"It's Raining Vi-o-lets"

It's Raining Vi-0-lets at Linder's!!! Show and sale today and tomorrow only! See you there!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Check Out Chiritas

Chiritas are becoming very popular here among violet growers. Here’s a little information on them.

Chiritas are mostly herbs which grow from 6 inches to 3 feet. They are found in the Himalayas from Malaysia to Indonesia, in southern China, and in Sri Lanka. There are upwards of 100 species and more of them are coming into cultivation in this country all the time. New hybrids are appearing in our shows each year.

The perennial species and hybrids can be propagated from leaves and suckers the same as Saintpaulia. When using a leaf, choose one that is not old or very large. A large leaf can be cut into sections and then potted. The annual species grow quickly from seed.

All of the species seem to prefer cool growing conditions. Temperatures down to 55 degrees are tolerated while temps. Over 80 degrees may be harmful. Keep them in your coolest locations. All require high humidity but cannot tolerate over watering. Too much water will cause the leaf tips to brown. They need a very light soil mix that drains well. A mix of equal parts peat moss, vermiculite and perlite works well. Chiritas grow well under fluorescent lights, needing about 500 foot-candles, or about the same as recommended for Saintpaulia. Growing them near the ends of 40 watt fluorescent lights up to 14 hours a day works well. They will also grow well in bright reflected window light. In a greenhouse, some shade must be provided, especially in hot weather. Purplish brown edges on leaves may be caused by the potting medium becoming to acidic, over fertilization (repot), or too much light. When leaves yellow, repot. Remove some, but not all, of the old growing medium and add fresh. Do not set much deeper than it was to prevent suckering. Most take large amounts of water but prefer to dry out slightly between watering. If wick watering, use only one strand of wicking and coil it at the bottom of the pot rather than bringing it up through the soil. Disbudding is generally not recommended because the buds take upwards of two months to open after taking a long time to form. However, they will bloom at least twice a year.

Up until now, the most popular plants have been the sinensis species and their hybrids. These come in an all green form and with varying amounts of silver veining on the leaves. The all green varieties are believed to be easier to bring into bloom but the silver veined plants are preferred for their beautiful foliage. Varieties such as C. sinensis and C. sinensis ‘Hisaka’ grow in a rosette form with lavender flowers. C. lutea and ‘Aiko’ have yellow

flowers and seem to need more water. C. micromosa and lavendulacea are annual species which grow easily from seed which the plants form readily. C. micromosa is also known as “little banana” because of its seed pods. C. lavendulacea grows very quickly and is noted for its heavy blooming.

Some of the foliage is very striking when used in design. It can be conditioned by cutting the leaf with as much petiole as possible and setting it in warm fertilized water. (1/8 tsp. of fertilizer to 1 gallon of water to which 10 drops of Superthrive have been added.) Allow the leaf to absorb moisture for a couple of hours before using.

Chiritas grow very well along side of our Saintpaulia, so give them a try! Another special thanks to Jude N. for giving us this post!!!! Be sure to go and enjoy the show at Linder's!!!