Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Temperature and blooming time

Most of my plants are growing in my basement, where it remains cool even in the summer.  This makes it easy to grow violets in the summer as I don't have to worry about them roasting.  In the fall, it takes a while before it gets cold down there and in the winter, I have a heat vent blowing right on them.

The spring presents the problem.  The heater is no longer running, but on days like today, the AC is on because the house got to about 85F.

What to do?  Well, for starters, duct tape the vent so the AC does not chill the violets down.  Move slow bloomers to higher shelves (5F difference in temperature between the very top and bottom shelves).  I also got a couple of seed-started heat mats to warm up the slow bloomers.  They are up at the very top level--almost at the ceiling.  Will they bloom in time?  One can only hope.

A couple of the natural light plants are blooming too fast, so I had to move them down a floor or out of the window entirely.

All this juggling is driving me crazy.  Will be happy in three weeks for entries to begin.

Monday, April 25, 2011

I love trailers

Trailers are my favorite violets.  I currently grow about 4 dozen varieties.  Here are some of my favorite show plants from the past.
Foxwood Trail

Tiny Wood Trail

Rob's Boolaroo

Rob's Galiwinku

Rob's Lilli Pilli
Rob's Toorooka (in a 14 inch bowl)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Training African violet trailers - Part 1: Grooming to Grow a Fuller Plant

Think trailers are difficult or so-so performers?  They can be easy and can end up being spectacular plants. 
Trailers need at least 3 crowns to receive a Blue ribbon in a judged show.  Most will have many more than three crowns.  The first step in growing a good trailer is getting the plant to grow many crowns.  Some varieties will sucker easily and do this on their own.  Most will need a little help.  The 'help' can be in the form of grooming or pinching, or a bit of both.

How can grooming help to grow a fuller plant?  Many young trailers will have several smaller crown growing underneath larger leaves.  These crowns won't get much light due to the larger leaves over them.  Pruning out these leaves will help these smaller crowns to go.

This Rob's Boolaroo needs some grooming to help it grow fuller and better shaped.
Many leaves need to be removed to allow the smaller crowns underneath to grow.

Now those small crowns can grow and make a fuller plant.  The more crowns, the more blooms.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

While I wait for the current crop to bloom: Favorite Plants - The Little Ones

Rob's Love Bite

Cupid's Kiss

Rob's Twinkle Blue
Gleeful Elf
Rob's Fiddle Faddle

Watermelon Bay
Ness' Crinkle Blue

Rob's Twinkle Pink
Ness' Crinkle Blue and Boo Man
Orchard's Bumble Magnet

My shelves at 7 weeks until the show.

The plants have filled in and have shaped up nicely.  Morticia has left the building - no more disbudding!  I am happy with most of my plants.  A few plants don't seem to be good bloomers (Baby Brian and Pink Mint trailers).  If they don't perform, out they go to make room for better plants.

There are several larger trailers I am growing in natural light.  Cirelda, Foxwood Trail, Fancy Trail and some Saintpaulia species.

So what is left to do?  Adjusting the light and temperature conditions to control blooming, grooming (especially the trailers) and keeping the plants watered and pest free.  I am getting excited for show!

Starting Over....

I lost almost all of my violet collection in early 2010, but I didn't lose my love for African violets.  Here are some photos of my plant stands on the way from empty to full.  Instead of flowers for Mother's Day, I got big boxes of violets (thanks, Bber and hubby).  Generous friends gave me leaves and plants, and I was a good customer to many commercial growers.  I still miss my old collection and some of the great plants I can never really replace.  I have replaced most of the 'must have' varieties, but some of those don't seem to be quite as good as the ones I lost--but some of them are better!  All of my new plants were isolated in individual groups, in Sterlite or Rubbermaid containers or those clear spinach boxes.  I also used clear domes over the permanest trays.  So here is the path of violet return...

My plant stands in January

Everything was potted up and repotted in December and January.  With fresh soil and new pots, we are ready to grow for show.  There are 15 weeks until show.  Keep growing, violets!

Potting up a large trailer

Cirelda is one of my favorites trailers. I have been growing this plant for years, and it is a favorite for show. This particular plant was saved from the virus scourge because it was growing in natural light in 2009, and did not go to show. It was growing in an 8 inch pot at the time. It needed to be rejuvenated after the 2008 show, as it had opened up in the center. I removed most of the crowns and leaves until just the ends of the trails had growing crowns. In a few mondths, new crowns sprouted from the base stems and the plant began to fill in, bit not in time for the 2009 show. So, in 2010, I carefully potted the plant from the 8 inch pot into a 10 inch pot, and kept the plant isolated.

Now it is 2011 and the plant has really grown. Time to pot up from the 10 inch pot into a 12 inch pan pot.

First, prepare the new pan. Use a heavy layer of perlite, because these plants like to be planted in shallow pots. Next, make a mould of the old pot in the new pot, and lay on new wicks. A pot this size needs 4 wicks.

Carefully wiggle the plant out of the pot. Hold the pot on its side and shake it gently until the plant slides out into your other hand. gently place the pot into the space in the new pot.

Here is Cirelda, all potted up and ready to be groomed for show.

Getting ready for the AVSA 2011 national Convention in Cherry Hill, NJ

Getting plants ready for show can be a lot of work, but it is also fun. Sometimes you do not notice how much plants grow and mature when you look at them every day. So I am going to post photos of my plant shelves as they grow and bloom.