Thursday, August 4, 2011

Trailer Taming Part 2 - Potting and Grooming a Bushy Trailer

Bushy trailers generally do not form long trailing stems, but they sucker and make many crowns. They will usually form crowns on their own, but you can encourage the reluctant plants by pinching out the center of a crown where you need more fullness.

When grooming trailers, consider what you do to single crown plants.  You need to remove the older, outer row of leaves.  The same thing is true with trailers.  Left on the plant, these leaves will block the light from new crowns growing in the center and and make the plant look dull.  Yes, this can be a lot of work on a large plant, and you will find you need to remove a LOT of leaves.

This is Amadie Trail, a miniature trailer.  It was growing in a 4 inch pot here, but that was 2 months ago and the plant is past its prime in this pot and ready for a 5 inch pan pot.  I don't have any 'secrets' when it comes to trailers, but if I had to name one essential tool for success,  it would be the 5 inch pan pot.  Trailers love shallow pots.  I work hard at getting a good, full shape in a 5" pan pot.  After I have that, it is just a matter of consistent grooming and potting up into bigger pan pots.

Here is Amadie Trail right before repotting, still in a 4 inch pot.

The 4 inch pot is taller than the 5 inch pan pot, so I need to trim the roots.  I will just slice off the bottom inch or so with a sharp knife.

I will gently work away some of the soil from the root ball, especially the top layer.  My 5 " pan pots always get two wicks.  Fresh soil is added all around.
Finally, I need to remove leaves in the center of the plant.  This serves two functions -lets light into the crown, allowing smaller new crowns to grow, and gets rid of older, dull leaves

Now the plant is in fresh soil, and ready to put out new growth.  Because the plant needs to grow both new roots to fill the larger out and new leaves on all the newly exposed crowns, growth may be slow for the first month. We'll take a look at the plant in the fall to see how it is doing.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Trailer Taming - Part 1: Naturally Trailing Types

There are two main types of trailing African violets.  Bushy trailers form multiple crowns from a center point, but generally don't form long branches.  Naturally trailing types grow long stems or branches and can be trained to grow as large, full plants, with the potential for high bloom counts.  The secret to a full plant with a nice round shape is to get many crowns to grow along these trails.  Why do you see so many straggly trailers?  Many people hesitate to grooms plants and avoid taking leaves off of even single crown plants.  Grooming trailers to be nice full plants requires you to remove many leaves—most of which will be perfectly healthy and green.

Most plants will get nice and full if you remove the leaves that block smaller crowns.  Do this consistently, especially on young trailers and those you move up into bigger pots.  Sometimes drastic steps are needed. 
Here is a great example of a trailer that needs to be trained to grow more crowns.  It is a pretty nice plant here, but it has a significant flaw—it does not have enough crowns for the size of the plant.  The leaves are healthy and the shape is nice, but it grew very quickly for me, so I repotted it into larger pan pots without doing the needed training.  It is growing in a 7 inch pan pot.

I need to take off a lot of leaves, exposing bare stems underneath them.  I will do this in two steps so I don’t stress the plant too much.  Here is the plant after a good grooming.  I removed a lot of leaves.  Small crowns are visible on the bare stems and near the center of the plant.  These crowns can now grow since they have light now.

One month later, one side is showing a lot of smaller crowns on the bare stems.  I will pluck more leaves out and the plant will look pretty bare….but, in a few months it will fill in.  Keep the leaves on the ends of the crowns to be sure and provide enough energy for the plant.   If these crowns are still sticking out at odd angles when the rest of the crowns grow in, I will remove them.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My favorite show plants from the 2011 AVSA Convention

The blooms are long gone and the plant room is really boring...but I have lots of photos from the convention.  Just loved watching my favorite varieties grow and bloom this spring.  Here they are at their best in Cherry Hill.

Best Standard AVSA Collection
Buckeye Bellringer
                    Frozen in Time, Rebel's Splatter Cake, The Alps

Buckeye Cranberry Sparkler

Buckeye Collasal

Rob's Boolaroo

Rob's Gundaroo
Rob's Galiwinku

2nd Best Robinson collection.

Best Vintage Violet - Wood Trail

Amadie Trail

Ness' Satin Rose
Rob's Humpty Doo

Boo Man, Persian Lace, Cupid's Jewel
Petite Blarney - Best Mini, 2nd BIS

Cirelda - Best Trailer, Best in Show

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

2011 AVSA Convention Recap

AVSA Convention 2011 turned out much too busy to keep up, and the last couple of weeks have been even more hectic, but I want to share some highlights of my experience.

Working on staging with the Burlington County club on Tuesday.  Susan did all of the amazing design work for the staging.  She is so talented.

Boxing up plants for the trip to the show on Wednesday. 

photo by Neil Lipson
Entries - I was really disorganized.  Thanks to the helpful people who got my plants in the show.  And then we stayed until after 1 AM to get all the plants in the right spot and the staging set.  I had to laugh when told 'don't touch the plants!'  Touched every one of those plants several times as we moved them round and round until we got it right.  And then there was the issue of the plant stakes.......

 The race for the Sales room on Thursday.  I was so excited to get in the sales room.  I found quite a few plants from my 'want list'.

 The Awards dinner on Thursday night with the Jersey Girls from the AVC of Burlington County.  We had a great time.  Was so pleased that many of my club members won awards.

 And I am still shocked that I won first place :)

The Internet Buddies dinner on Friday evening.

The AV Club of Burlington County never misses a party.

 Closing banquet on Saturday night -- patriotic theme.

 What a great week it was.  Next post I will share some of the great plants and designs -- and new introductions.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Final Show Prep

Potted up two large plants and three smaller ones -- and managed not to mess any of them up.  This is a first for me.  I also put together my terrarium and dish garden.  I really like my dish garden.  The terrarium...not so much.  Will still need to touch up each of these before Wednesday.

Now the challenge is to find boxes for safe transport to Cherry Hill.  Over the years I have accumulated a wide variety of boxes and pieces of styrofoam with pot-holes cut out.  The only problem is, every year I seem to have a different collection of plants and I end up scrounging around for something else.  Can't wait until the plants are entered and I can relax and enjoy.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Week to Show!

There is just a week to show, and the stress is mounting.  A couple plants were way too quick to come into bloom and they will be staying home.  A couple are still kind of slow, but they will make it--just not at their peek.

And a couple plants are in pots too small and will need to be potted up a size (I hate doing this--so much risk of breaking leaves).

And then there are those that did not bloom true to type.  All of my thumprints disappointed me greatly:  Shirl's Hawaiian Lei, Princess K'Rei and Plumberry Glow.  They were blooming fine just this Fall.  I don't thinkt hey like the cooler temps in my basement.  sigh

Besides the actual bloom times that different varieties need in my conditions, I did learn a few things this growing session.

The little one do better when repotted 3 times a year rather than just twice a year.

Over-potting plants in the hopes they will grow into their pots - not a good plan.

Some plants will never like you and you should just give them away as soo as you know this so they don't take up space and your time.

Next year, I am growing way less show plants.  I will probably enjoy them more.

Here's a peek at some of the plants, almost ready to box and go.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Two weeks to show...and we are blooming

This is both my favorite time and my least favorite time to hover around my plant room.  It is wonderful to see the plants blooming, especially since many of them are not allowed to bloom during the better part of the year.  It is also frustrating because I critique them way too much and juggle them up and down shelves depending on what is blooming fast or slow.  But I will spend as much time down here as I can, because once the plants go to show, all the blossoms will come off before they go back on the shelves.  I won't make that mistake twice.  So I will enjoy them now, and quit complaining. As my husband often says, 'this is supposed to be fun, right?'

Sunday, May 1, 2011

This one grew like a weed.

In January of 2010, I had a starter plant of Fancy Trail in a solo cup.  Fancy Trail is a crown-variegated standard trailer.  I potted it into a 3 inch pot in February, a 4 inch pot in May, a 5 inch pan pot in September, and then a 6 inch pan  pot in November.  In January, it has already overgrown its pot, and needed an 8 inch pot.

Here is what the plant looked like before and after I repotted.  There are two types of trailers.  One type makes a bushy plants with a lot of crowns around the center of the plant.  They do not so much trail as sucker profusely.  The other type of trailer forms long stems.  Notice how this plant really trails.  This type of trailer would make a nice hanging basket.



Since the plant grew so fast, I should have guessed that it might come into full bloom quickly.  But I didn't, and it did.  It probably won't make show this year, but here it is.

There is one big flaw to this plant.  Since it grew so fast, I didn't get a chance to pinch it to encourage more crowns.  The more crows, the more bloom.  Some trailers do this all on their own.  Once the show is over and I have time, I will stripe this plant down and try to make it a fuller plant.