Friday, January 05, 2007

Growing Disasters

Growing African violets is a lot different than playing an instrument. If you play an instrument and hit a wrong note you will instantly know you did something wrong. If you change something when growing African Violets it takes about 3 months until you'll see a change in the plant.

I have grown plants for many, many years and I have had a few experiences that I wish I had not had. When I hear of doing something different and it sounds like a good idea, I'll try it!

So, what are some things I've done? As a new grower many years ago, I heard about a product I thought sounded good. I ordered it and tried it on a tray of 30 leaves that I had just purchased. The leaves withered and died 3 days later. Yessiree, all 30 of them!

Then I heard about the fine attributes of using cow manure in a growing mixture. My plants grew to a nice size and I was pleased with the results. One very cold day, rather than go into the garage to get a mix for the minis, I used the cow manure mixture. It took about 3 months until they started to grow into huge plants. None of them could be put in a show because they were too large.

Superthrive was supposed to be a nice additive and I used it on all my plants. I was happy with the shiny leaves. However, all the variegated plants turned much greener and once again I could not enter them in a show. I've continued using Superthrive and it is o.k. as long as I continue using it. The variegation stays nice but if I were to discontinue using it the variegation would then be lighter in color.

I also heard of a product to control or stop powdery mildew. It seemed to work until I noticed that 3 months later all the plants had markings on their leaves. I have since heard that the product must be mixed and used immediately. It cannot stand for a few days and then be used without bad results. Once again many plants could not be entered in a show.

A few years ago, foliar feeding seemed to be a good thing to do. Of course, I did it but no matter how careful I was wiping the edge of the leaf of any excess moisture, I still got burned edges. More plants not entered in a show! Since the idea came about, experiments have been done to show that the plants do not benefit from fertilizer placed on the leaves.

Many books and articles talk about alternating fertilizers. Yup, did that too. More plants not entered in a show. It probably is a good idea since different fertilizers contain different elements but it should be done all the time. Rather than alternating, I stay with one fertilizer. It saves me wondering what I used last week and what I should use this week.

So what is my advice to prevent such disasters? Try new ideas or products but do it on only three plants for 3 months. I try to select a plant with a light green leaves, a plant with a dark green leaves, and a variegated plant for the experiment and then I wait…………..

Thank you to our author - judge, teacher, grower and willing mentor for those of us still learning - Sharon Johnson!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Ges Jests

Ever notice that it's sort of hard to find cartoons about gesneriads? I have the pleasure of introducing a new periodic feature to our blog, the Ges Jests! Creator, Clay Anderson, has graciously let us post some of his work from the publication made for the Twin Cities Chapter of the American Gloxinia and Gesneriad Society (or the AGGSTC as they're sometimes called.) I hope everyone enjoys them!

Thinking of this particular cartoon, it only seemed fitting to share it after our recent posts about hybridizing and the different traits that people are breeding for. Did you know that at the time this cartoon was drawn (in 1976) there were absolutely NO yellow African Violets? The yellow flowering plants have been a recent addition to the colors and patterns that are available. Currently there are still very few that show a bold, distinct yellow color. Most of the hybrids are a softer tone but breeders are improving the trait all the time. Thanks again to Clay for sharing his cartoons!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year!

Our frozen flamingos are back and even colder than before! They're going to play in the snow for a while longer till they're ready to come inside and tend to their violets. They made some good resolutions to take better care of their plants in the new year though. They are going to remember to water them regularly, feed them a balanced source of nutrients, keep them clean and groomed and they promise not to snack on the tender middle rows of leaves. Even though the flamingos find them extra tasty, they're going to save them for the spring show so that everyone will get to enjoy their pretty violets! They (Ferdinand, Felicia, Florance, Fabian and Floyd) are hoping that you'll have some entries for the show too! Start planning which ones you'll be bringing now!