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.....
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