Author Topic: Starting African violets 101  (Read 5580 times)

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Offline barleychown

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Starting African violets 101
« on: Dec 06, 2007, 11:03:04 PM »
Getting started...

First, you need to decide how many leaves you have room to start. You can do as little as one, (though I seriously advise more) or as many as you dare.

Keep the following in mind when decideing on numbers:

#1. This is addictive. There is nothing quite like seeing a tiny baby AV and knowing that YOU did it.

#2. I feel I have a pretty good handle on starting leaves. For every 3 that I start, 2 will make it.

#3. For every leaf that makes it, you will have at least one baby, and more likely 3 to 5. It's hard for me to throw away a live plant, no matter how small. How about you? :BigGrin:

My advice would be to start around 10 leaves. I can fit around 12 in a mini greenhouse (which we will discuss later).
« Last Edit: Apr 23, 2008, 10:09:50 PM by barleychown »
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Offline barleychown

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Re: Starting African violets 101
« Reply #1 on: Dec 06, 2007, 11:11:28 PM »
Light requirements...

Alright, now that we have talked about how many, let's talk about light requirements.

When starting leaves, light is important, though not nearly as important as it will be for growing the plants. Basically, you can start a leaf anywhere there is a moderate amount of light.

My first set of leaves did fine on my kitchen counter. Now I start most of mine on a rack in a North facing window.

There is much debate over how much light is needed, but the general consensus seems to be they will root and make babies as long as there is some light. Opinions vary on wether they produce faster with more light. Each leaf is different, and as long as you find a spot that works for you, that is all that really matters.

I do know that warmth plays a part, as the ones rooted in the main living areas do show babies faster than ones started in an unheated bedroom. If you are impatient like me, keep that in mind when selecting a spot.
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Offline barleychown

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Re: Starting African violets 101
« Reply #2 on: Dec 06, 2007, 11:29:40 PM »
The pots...

I start each leaf in it's own pot, that way if it's going to die, it can only take itself out, and not others with it. Also, because each leaf is different, they will each make babies at a different time. It's hard enough to separate them if they are alone.

These are pictures of pots I have used with great success in the past, with a pen for size comparison:



And this is them on their sides, so you can see how deep they are (or, in this case, are NOT)



The thing to think about with pots is how a leaf makes babies. First, it must root, then most leaves fill the pot with roots before it gets around to making any babies. So, if you limit the size of the pot, you can limit the time it takes to make babies!

When I started, it was far easier to buy the condiment cups in the top of the picture, found at wal-mart for 50 cents or so a cup. Now, however, It makes more sense for me to buy portion cups from a supply store in sleeves of 100 for 4 to 8 dollars, depending on size.

The main thing to look for in a pot is small and shallow. There are lots of different things that people use as pots. Most popular, besides condiment cups, are the plastic dixie cups for the bathroom. I've also heard of people using the individual serving cups for coffee creamer. Use your imagination!
« Last Edit: Dec 06, 2007, 11:58:44 PM by barleychown »
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Offline barleychown

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Re: Starting African violets 101
« Reply #3 on: Dec 07, 2007, 12:13:52 AM »
Down and dirty about dirt....

First off, you are going to need some PLAIN potting soil. None of the ones with the fertilizers mixed in (like the miracle grow one!) Usually the cheaper store brand ones are the ones without added stuff. Read those labels carefully!

Also, due to the tendancy of leaves to rot, (and when you are impatient like me and water too often) it REALLY helps to mix in some perlite.

I know, I know...what the heck it that???

Here's a pic:



Perlite is the white stuff in most potting soils. It's super light, and very porous, so you don't drowned the poor leaves (and later, the plants!)

I mix my "dirt" half-and-half...that's half potting soil, half perlite.

Lots of growers have lots of recipes for their soil mix. This one works for me.

When you go to the store hunting perlite and plain potting soil, you will more than likely see a potting soil mix labeled "african violet mix"...these mixes are fine, but still to "heavy" for my taste. I still mix them half and half with perlite. However, plain potting soil is cheaper...hence the reason I use it.


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Offline barleychown

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Re: Starting African violets 101
« Reply #4 on: Dec 07, 2007, 12:17:34 AM »
Good donor plants....

Now, let's talk about "donor" plants. I would suggest a trip to your local wal-mart, fred meyers, home depot, lowes, ect. to pick through thier plant deptartment.

You will be looking for a healthy, happy african violet that you can take home and use as a donor for leaves to practice on.(You could also beg or borrow some leaves off of friends with violets.)This will also give you a chance to practice your growing skills with mature plants.

These are good examples of healthy mature plants:





See how full and healthy-looking they are? Nice and green. These are good.

« Last Edit: Dec 07, 2007, 12:40:29 AM by barleychown »
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Offline barleychown

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Re: Starting African violets 101
« Reply #5 on: Dec 07, 2007, 12:19:22 AM »
Bad donor plants....

Now these are NOT good donor plants:





These are bad because the top one have small not-happy leaves, and the bottom one - look closely at the crown ( the very middle). See the misformed and the brown? Not good signs. These can be caused by a number of things such as a simple "culture break", over fertilization, or buggies!  Buggies are bad.  AVOID plants that are not healthy!!!

As you get more advanced, you may consider "rescuing" some violets, but please avoid it for now. While you are mastering starting a leaf, you need the odds in your favor!
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Offline barleychown

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Re: Starting African violets 101
« Reply #6 on: Dec 07, 2007, 12:25:21 AM »
Okay...now, on to the fun stuff!

First, assemble the following:



Use the permenant pen to label the pot with the date you started the leaf, and the name of the variety, if you know it.

Poke holes in the bottom of your pots with the knife...BE CAREFUL!



Using the knife, cut off a leaf, close to the crown of the plant so there is a lot of stem left with the leaf, like so:



Now, using the razor blade, cut the stem at about a 45* angle, leaving around a half and inch of stem:




So it looks like this when done:



Now...let it sit for around twenty minutes so it can sort of scab over the end a little, then stick it into the pot:

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Offline barleychown

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Re: Starting African violets 101
« Reply #7 on: Dec 07, 2007, 12:27:55 AM »
Keep 'em happy...

Now, to keep the leaves happy and firm while they are "laboring", I like to "dome" them...in essence, create a mini greenhouse for them to hang out in...

Either "dome" each pot seperately:



Or as a group:



The covered pan in the second pic was found at wal-mart in the bakeware section. They come as a set of two for around $3.
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Offline barleychown

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Re: Starting African violets 101
« Reply #8 on: Dec 07, 2007, 12:31:26 AM »
Now what???

Okay...now that we've started our leaves...here is what we have to look forward to in 4 to 10 weeks!

The "mouse ears":



A little bit older baby:



And a tray full of babies:


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Offline barleychown

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Re: Starting African violets 101
« Reply #9 on: Dec 07, 2007, 12:33:28 AM »
Where to go from here?

Look for another thread, titled "African violets 102".

http://www.southernspirithunters.com/smf/index.php/topic,1404.new.html#new

Any questions I can help you with?
« Last Edit: Dec 07, 2007, 12:51:20 AM by barleychown »
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Offline Dianna

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Re: Starting African violets 101
« Reply #10 on: Dec 07, 2007, 11:48:57 AM »
Sarah, would mixing sand with the potting soil serve the same purpose as perlite? I mix sand with all of my potting soil to help with drainage... :)
"Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success." - Lao Tzu

Offline barleychown

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Re: Starting African violets 101
« Reply #11 on: Dec 07, 2007, 11:53:29 AM »
There is sand in the commercial potting mixes made for african violets, but that is part of what makes them "heavy" to me.

Perlite is so airy, and at the same time it holds moisture well. That is what makes it so helpful to african violets.

In nature, african violets grow in the forks of trees, where leaf litter and extra bark and other compost materials gather. They root in, and make more. With this knowlege in mind, set out to duplicate those conditions.
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Offline Dianna

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Re: Starting African violets 101
« Reply #12 on: Dec 07, 2007, 12:46:16 PM »
Ok, Sarah. Thank you for explaining that to me. I will see if I can pick up some perlite the next time I go to the store... :)
"Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success." - Lao Tzu

Offline duh

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Re: Starting African violets 101
« Reply #13 on: Dec 09, 2007, 11:20:56 AM »
What size should the mother leaf be?  And should it be one of the dark leaves or one of the light leaves? 

And should I wait until it has stopped blooming to cut a mother leaf.  Or should I cut it while it is blooming?


Offline barleychown

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Re: Starting African violets 101
« Reply #14 on: Apr 25, 2008, 09:58:51 AM »
As long as it is a mature leaf, it will work fine. On a healthy plant, all the leaves should be the same color.

And, it shouldn't matter if the violet is blooming or not. Either way, the leaf will be happy to make babies!
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Offline Bonnie

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Re: Starting African violets 101
« Reply #15 on: Apr 25, 2008, 05:00:13 PM »
Does the dome that you put them under have air holes?
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Offline barleychown

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Re: Starting African violets 101
« Reply #16 on: Apr 25, 2008, 05:16:27 PM »
Nope. I'm guessing the cake pans are not air tight, and I know the individual cups as domes are not. Even with no air holes, my babies live in the cake pans for a month or more between times I open them to water.
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Offline Bonnie

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Re: Starting African violets 101
« Reply #17 on: Apr 25, 2008, 06:19:40 PM »
Sarah, you have explained this so well that even I might be able to do it. Thanks
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