Monday, November 02, 2009

African violets - propigation and care

I'm crazy for propigating plants.  When the works done in my outdoor garden, I turn to my indoor plants to get me through the gloomy days of winter.  Today I'm going to show you how I turned a handful of african violets into a growing collection!  This is a very easy way to increase your houseplants with little effort or cost.

For this project you will need:
     * a few fully mature african violet plants
     * 3-6 weeks time in sunny window
     * short jars or glasses
     * some small pots with saucers
     * good quality organic potting soil
     * pencil

This organic mix with worm casting and bat guano costs a little extra
but it's worth it when you see the blooms on these violets in winter

Remove a few of the healthy outer leaves from your mature plant.  You'll want to break them off cleanly and close to the main stem.  This is also a  good time to remove and compost any of the old faded flowers or leaves.

Here's one of my mature plants.  I'll remove the bottom leaves at the stem

Place the healthy leaves in a short jar or glass and add water to cover the bottom 1/3 or less of the stems.

A recycled artichoke jar is just the right size for this project!

Place your jar of leaves in a sunny window sill for 3 to 6 weeks.  Keep a close eye on the jar for newly forming roots.  Be sure to add water as needed, but don't overfill or you risk rotting your stems.  When adding water be careful not to get water on the furry leaves.  Remove and compost any of your leaves that begin to turn mushy at the stem.

When you begin to see small leaves or plantlets growing out of the base of your stems, it's time to pot up your new starts!

Fill your small pots with potting mix and pack down gently. Using a pencil, create a depression in the soil. Carefully seperate the leaves with attached roots and place your leaf in the depression.  Gently pack soil around the stem of the leaf. Be very careful that you don't break off the new plantlet from the leaf.

Here I've places several new starts in a single pot.  Once the new
growth reaches at least 1" I will seperate these into their own pots

Water your new start and place in a sunny window.  When the plantlet has grown to about 8 leaves of at least 1 inch high, you may cut back the original starter leaf.

This is a start I planted about 1 month ago. 

General care for your african violets:  

African violets require a medium to full light of a south facing window to bloom well.  They like to be kept humid, but not wet.  To keep up the humidity you can place a few saucers of water amongst your plants.

I can hardly wait for all these little beauties to bloom!

The biggest mistake when growing these plants is over watering.  It's best to water them from the bottom and allow the plant to draw up the moisture from the roots.

Another common mistake is water on the folliage, this will cause rot or brown spots on your plants.  You may however, spray a fine mist on them a few times per week. 

To get big beautiful blooms, you'll want to fertilize these plants about 1 x per month in the winter and 2 x per month in the summer. I was using worm tea from my worm bins, but found it's too smelly to use indoors.  You can purchase a specialized fertilizer for african violets at the nursery.

Mine usually bloom starting around Thanksgiving and continue all the way through early summer, then they rest and begin again in late fall. 

These delicate blooms last for several weeks

The best part about propigating your own houseplants is sharing!  I love to give gifts that are handmade or in this case homegrown.  These make really great hostess gifts and violets are especially appreciated when they are in the full glory of bloom!

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