Two years with African Violets

I have to have several plants of  African Violets (AV) – students use leaves to look at different types of cells. Two years ago I inherited 4 plants with flowers ranging from pink to blue.

I replanted one of them in a bigger pot before reading that they don’t like being moved. The plant became bigger than non-transplanted ones, but eventually, its growing point died. A little shoot developed on top, but also dried out. I cut off the crown, put it in a pot and waiting for the bottom half to sprout new leaves as a YouTube video on propagating AV advised. It’s not going great, the top half seems to be rotten and the bottom keeps growing fungus on top.

March 2017 028

African violets: home grow from the leaf cuttings (in the orange pot, a year old) vs. bought from a nursery.

I saw an advice that scraping the top layer from the bare stem created when the leaves fall off and putting it in soil creates more roots. I did that and the plant died. Despairing, I bought 5 little plants from Dibley nursery. One of them, “Favorite child”, is flowering already.

March 2017 038

African Violet “Favorite child”. Lovelier than on the label picture – there’s light green tinge on the top leaf.

They can be propagated by leaf cuttings, at least in theory. In practice,  after using about 20 leaves I have one scrawny looking plant (in the orange pot). The other two strugglers look dead as of today. I think the soil for them was too heavy, too rich with coffee grounds. I transplanted them into the pot with the best of the crop, but too late.
Conclusion: Don’t mess with African Violets unless absolutely required. Plant them in special light soil, don’t change the pot. When they look leggy, just put some more soil around the bare stem.





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