Friday, February 01, 2008

Easy Growers!

Here's something to try when you want interesting plants with plenty of flowers. The gesneriad list frequently has members give knowledgeable replies to inquiries, one of which asked which Sinningias were good for growing in average home conditions. I copied the reply so that I can share it in the blog:

Sinningias are a good choice for a beginner with warm conditions. Mini
Sinningia hybrids are good for growing under lights, since they can
thrive and bloom with less intense light. Most will flower when they're young
plants. The micro mini species, such as Sinningia pusilla, S. pusilla
'White Sprite', and S. sp. "Rio das Pedras" should be grown in a terrarium
under lights to maintain the higher humidity levels they need.

Many of the larger species Sinningias will be happy growing on a warm
sunny windowsill or under fluorescent lights. I would recommend S. cardinalis,
S. iarae, S. eumorpha varieties, S. lineata, or S. leucotricha as easy long
lived plants for a beginner. These species may not flower as immature
seedlings, but will produce blooms easily after a couple of growth cycles or
when they have developed a good tuber.

Please consider being a member of the gesneriad society. Membership has many benefits, one of which is access to the seed fund where very wonderful and rare seed can be attained for next to nothing.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Some of the results are in! Club members experimented with a variety of components regarding violet growth and vigor.

The photos show a short and easy experiment resulting in some obvious change from the control plant to the experimental plant. Plant number one was watered with plain tap water for nearly two months with no additional supplements added. Plant number two was watered once a week with water and a water soluble fertilizer such as Miracle Grow. In only a short amount of time the fertilized plant was already showing improved growth and bloom. It was approximately 50% larger in only 8 weeks of growth.

Other more interesting experiments were done. One member watered with vitamin C added to the water. Although vitamin C is water soluble, and it would seem that it would not be able to "build up" in the soil, the plant with extra C did less well that a plant without.

Many people are somewhat confused about what size pot to use at what stage of a violet's life. It turns out that with two similar size and variety "babies", the plant started in the 2" pot grew much faster and was much larger than the plant started in a 4" pot filled with the same potting soil and grown in the same conditions.

The plants that were grown in natural window light and under fluorescent light showed some differences also. The plants that were of similar size and identical variety were placed in a bright window and under plant stand lights. The plants both looked good, were healthy and had a considerable flowers but the one in the natural light was a much more "open" plant. That is to say the leaves were spread out more and less compact. The blooms were somewhat shorter but spread out in a pleasing way across more of the plant. The violet grown under the lights was "tighter", more compact and the blooms stood a little taller and were grouped into the center of the plant in a more circular pattern. Both plants had a good healthy color and leaf size.

Someone tried growing plants and adding Epsom salts, which is magnesium sulfate, to the water. The plants, which were pale to start with and lacking some of the expected green pigment, greened up considerably. Magnesium is an essential element in the chlorophyll molecule. The advantage of magnesium sulfate over other magnesium soil supplements such as dolomitic lime is its very high solubility.

Other people tried manipulating plants by adding a natural "stress" to their lives to simulate wind moving the leaves. Although not conclusive, the plants that were wiggled and moved as if they were being gently blown in the wind seemed to grow more vigorously and had more sturdy leaf structures.

It would be interesting to take these rather unscientific test results and see if the same results would occur under laboratory conditions with control populations and more individual plants for comparison. What should we experiment on this year?