Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Violet Grooming for the Non-Violet Grower

 At first glance most people would be pretty happy to have this violet on the coffee table. It's got nice shiny leaves and plenty of flowers. But, after a closer inspection, you'll see that there are a few grooming needs that will make this violet much more attractive and improve it's growth and overall health in time.

I'm going to say right now that for a serious violet grower/shower this plant would never have made it onto their shelves for starters and if such a plant was in their collection they would strip it down to about three leaves and start it all over again. This tutorial is for the person who doesn't want to start their plant all over again but just wants to spruce it up and see that it's healthy and will continue to provide pretty bloom and enjoyment at home for a long time to come.
 When you peak under the leaves you see all sorts of tiny (baby) leaves. Ideally, a violet should have the largest of its leaves in the outer most row and then have them decrease proportionally with the smallest leaves in the center.

In the very center of this picture besides the small leaves you will note the two leaves that are close together but not in the center. This is called a sucker and needs to be removed so that the parent plant will not create a twin plant side by side and ruin the round "rosette" shape that violets are grown for. This is the very start of another new plant.
 Here you see some spent blossoms that are dead. It's a must to remove these and keep your violet clean so that bugs and pests don't have a place to hide and make your plant sick over time.

Besides, fresh flowers are lovely to look at, dead ones just look like the plant is neglected.
You can see some of the larger leaves twisting and bending instead of being straight. This problem is a little harder to fix but there are things to try besides taking off that outer leaf.

Ideally, these twisted leaves probably be removed but sometimes you really don't want to make your plant into a tiny "starter plant" because it's looking good otherwise. So... you can try gently moving the leaf into the position you want it to be in and inserting a straw, coffee stir stick or toothpick next to the leaf stem and holding it in the place that you wish it to grow.
 If you look closely you will see that the main stem of this violet is not in the center of it's pot. This won't hurt the plant persay, but it looks so much better if you have it centered.

Take the plant gently out of it's pot, loosen a little of the dirt in the root ball and place the violet back in the center, filling in any extra soil you might need to fill the pot again properly.
 Here's the plant with some of the extra leaves removed and the dead flowers taken off. There are gaps and holes where leaves should go but with time and placing the plant in even lighting these issues will right themselves for the most part.
You can see the stake moving one of the rouge leaves into a more desirable position. A couple more well placed sticks and soon the violet will be much more symmetrical. Remember to occasionally turn the violet so that it gets the same light on all sides and doesn't tend to grow to one side like this one did.

This violet also shows that it perhaps had a little less light than is optimal, the petioles (stems) of the leaves are longer than they could be. More light will make them grow shorter and make the plant appear rounder.

By taking the time to tend to your violet now and then, you get a plant that uses it's energy to grow proportionally, bloom more regularly and make a more pleasing display. It' well worth the effort!

We'll see if our grooming helps this plant make some pleasant improvements in a few weeks. Stay tuned for future photos.....
Comments??? Questions??? Disagree???? Tap the comment button and let's hear what you wish to tell us!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What's Bloomin' Today

 Isn't this a pretty bloom? This is Saintpaulia 'Amy Lackner'. Amy is a member of the AVSM and long time grower and this plant was named after her.
This is 'Emerald City'. It's a nice chimera with a delicate blue streek with the green highlights.
 This is a Chirita tamiana. It's a really pretty little plant that is about the size of a semi miniature with the blooms that stand up above the foliage. It's an easy plant to grow.
How about this one? A Streptocarpus that was unnamed but looks a whole lot like 'Purple Panda'. Really eye catching with the clear white upper petals with just a hint of webbing on the tips.

A Domed Terrarium

 I found the big bubble-bowl terrarium up on the shelf and thought that it was a great day to think about making a terrarium.

It's cold outside, gray and cloudy... what better activity than putting together a little something for the show.

 It turns out that finding just the right materials that fit into the bowl purr-fectly, getting something that doesn't mind the humidity is all part of the art of design.

This display won a best container garden ribbon!!!!
The trouble with this terrarium though is it seems cranky. When I tried to move it to the shelf, it protests. I tied to slide it to the end of the work table so I could continue to work on other projects and it makes funny noises. Apparently, it demands to take up the exact center of the work space so that it's visible from all angles. *Sigh.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

39,700 LED Lights

That's right! Thirty nine thousand, seven hundred LED lights on an immense oak tree.

If you can see the house in the back ground you will get an idea of just how huge this tree is.... it's a monster.

Located right by Cedar Avenue and Old Shakopee it's been a holiday tradition for years now. The owner just upgraded to LED lights instead of the traditional style this year. It took a boom truck and three and a half weeks of labor (8 hours a day) to get the tree ready for the season.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fall Bloom Highlights!

Here are a few photos of some of the flowers seen at the show at Bachman's this weekend.

If a picture says 1000 words, these should be saying a lot!

Everything was bright and colorful!

If you missed this show be sure to mark off the last week of March on your calendar for coming to see the Spring Show at Har Mar Mall.

Monday, October 17, 2011


It's time again for the African violet societies to have their fall Show and Sale at both Northtown Mall on October 21-22, 2011 and Bachman's Heritage Room October 22-23, 2011 on Lyndale in Minneapolis!

Come and see African violets and other Gesneriads in bloom and looking stunning!

Bachman's Heritage Room is at the main Bachman's store location at 6010 Lyndale Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota!

We always have knowledgeable folks with growing advice and answers to all those violet questions you might have!
Semi-minniature violets for sale - for those of you will limited space! Come by and say "hi"!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Making a Natural Garden for a Show, Part 1

 Before beginning a natural garden, you have to select the proper plant material. Although it's not recommended, sometimes tasting it helps the "artist" get the feel for his masterpiece.

 Inspecting the plants sometimes includes checking if there are other interesting features about the plant, such as rhizomes.
Selecting the natural item for the base is important. Does it have pockets and spaces to plant in? Is it good looking? Is it something that you can "really get into"???
 Are there any mice in the crevices?
 When in doubt, check all the holes thoroughly, with both hands.
 Chew the extra bits off the back so that it will look good from all angles.
And finally, if you can really get into your work, it's probably going to look "smashing" at the show.

Stay tuned for planting the natural garden in part 2 of our series, and transporting it to show in part 3.

Special thanks to Walter for modeling and technical support.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Spilled Pollen

 Here's a very pretty African violet flower. This is actually a "grocery store" plant but it shows some pretty nice characteristics such as strong peduncles (the stalk holding up the flower cluster) and large, long lasting flowers.
In this picture you can see the center of the flower. It looks like there are some little "dusty" bits of something on the right hand side of the stamen. Most people won't  be looking closely at this feature, but if you are adding plants to your collection you might want to know about this. This "pollen spill" might be caused by thrips.
Thrips are small insects that hide and breed and feed in the center of the flower. They eat pollen and to get at it they will rip open the pollen sac and some of the pollen grains will spill onto the petals near the center of the flower. This might be caused by the owner bumping the flower, or it might be caused by other pollinators like bees coming to flowers on a plant that's grown outdoors, but for the indoor grower, this should be a warning sign to check your plant a bit closer.

If you are checking your own plants at home, look for little torpedo shaped insects quickly moving about on the petals. Using a hand lens is also helpful to see the bugs (they are quite small). As you might have guessed, a dark flower shows up the pollen spill and the insects much more easily than a white or light colored flower. Insecticides aren't usually very effective for a thrip infestation. Disbudding the plant and then keeping the plant disbudded (which means pulling off all flower stalks and blooms) for a period of 6 months usually takes care of the problem! Questions???? Leave a comment please.