Thursday, February 22, 2007

Share Your Favorite Tips

How do you control your "wilder" growing plants? What do you do to keep everything growing evenly and your violets symmetric? Let's hear from folks about what you do to make the plants you grow look their best!

My favorite recycle-tip is using chopsticks to stake up stems. They come in just about the perfect size for those things that grow under lights, things like kohleria and sinningias. The wood's been made smooth and you don't get splinters or the artificial color rubbing off on your hands like you can have happen with the colored green bamboo pieces. The sticks are tapered for easy insertion in the soil with little root disruption and they are fairly strong and won't bend over like a soda straw.

(There is an entry about how to enter comments just below the Imidacloprid post if you need some advice about how to make a comment.) Send us some of your helpful tips regarding how to control those unruly stems and wild stalks, how you get the leaves of your violet to lay flat and overlap.... and how you make your plants show worthy!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


There's been an interesting discussion on the gesneriphile list talking about the use of Marathon systemic granules for insect eradication with regards to people's collections of gesneriads and African violets. Certain insects are very hard to control and this particular chemical has sparked some interest because it seems quite effective. Here's a little information about this chemical, Imidacloprid.

Imidacloprid is a systemic, chloro-nicotinyl insecticide with soil, seed and foliar uses for the control of sucking insects including rice hoppers, aphids, thrips, whiteflies, termites, turf insects, soil insects and some beetles. Imidacloprid is found in a variety of commercial insecticides. The products Admire, Condifor, Gaucho, Premier, Premise, Provado, and Marathon all contain imidacloprid as the active ingredient (223). (Material from EXTOXNET from Oregon State University). Please look at this link to see more information.

Posts from the gesneriphile list have been discussing ways to control mealy and soil mealy bugs. One person, Irina Nicholson was saying, "I join the Marathon afficionadoes. I got a half gallon of it - seems it is a smallest container you can get, paid about $100 for it - but it will last for a long time. I add a half tablespoon per a gallon of soil when repot - and it works for 3-4 months. I had a root mealy bugs infestation in 2004 - and it was the only thing to get rid of them. It keeps off any kind of mealy bugs, fungus gnats and thrips - in their soil and leaf eating stage, it doesn't help against thrips in the buds, though, so if they fly in in summer - I need to disbud everything."

Mel Grice on the said "Bayer Advanced Tree & Shrub insect control comes in a 32 oz. blue plastic bottle and contains the same concentration of Imidacloprid as found in Marathon granules. It is a milky white liquid that I mix with water in a watering can and use as a soil drench. A couple of applications a few days apart seemed to solve my mealy bug problems. It doesn't seem to smell and is a lot easier than spraying everything. You can purchase it at Lowe's, Home Depot and places like that. The 32 oz. bottle costs about $20.00 the last time I looked.

Another reader from the list asked about the dilution and application rates. Mel answered
, I use ¼ tsp. of the Bayer Tree & Shrub / Imidacloprid in a 1 gallon watering can. It is a systemic insecticide so you want to water the plant when it is slightly on the dry side so that the plant absorbs as much of the solution as possible. I don't like to get out the measuring spoon all the time because I usually spill some of the Bayer. I use a funnel to fill plastic squeeze bottles like you see below with the Bayer T&S. The empty bottles can be purchased at craft, hobby, art stores, etc. in various sizes. They usually have a separate cap and you have to cut off the tip. You get a small hole if you cut it off at the top and a progressively larger hole the farther down you go. I get 20 drops in a ¼ tsp. measuring spoon. You should measure how many drops fit in your spoon the first time you try it."

Usually people have been getting the granular form of imidacloprid under the trade name of Marathon. Many times it seems hard to purchase and expensive for the amount you get. This is perhaps an alternative. I am not endorsing this product or telling you that it's safe for either you or your plants. I'm more of an organic gardener with over 15 years of completely NO chemicals in my vegetable beds and only rare use of systemic fungicides on my heritage peonies that came from my grandmother. (I couldn't bear to lose them.) But, for those interested in a chemical that others have found useful, this might be of some interest. The link and many more like it will provide lots of useable information so that you can make an educated choice of what sorts of chemicals you're exposing yourself to. The comments and picture came from the gesneriphile discussion list.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Here Come the Russians!!!

I became interested in the violets from Russia when I heard Vladimir Kalgin gave a presentation at the AVSA National convention in Tucson AZ. He showed pictures of people selling violets outside on benches by a street. It looked like there was snow on the ground. Everyone was wearing heavy coats and hats. He also showed pictures of meetings inside houses and some were wearing jackets and everyone was wearing heavy sweaters! The rooms were obviously cold. Vladimir brought a whole bunch of leaves to the convention, which were sold at the auction. It was real exciting that he was so generous to bring us their hybridized leaves and give us an opportunity to grow their plants.

The plants looked lovely in the pictures but they must be very hardy to survive in such an environment. How can those plants survive in cool temperatures since we have been told the ideal temperatures are 65 to 75 degrees? Can we grow them in our warm houses? Would they be better, or would they be so acclimated to a cooler environment that they would not grow well in our warmth? I do not know any of the answers, but I went ahead and bought some of the plants when they became available just to see how they grew. I have a beautiful one right now that is 21” in diameter with beautiful symmetry, and beautiful flowers. I am impressed!

At the MN convention I encountered a lady that was originally from Russia, now living in Florida, and she kindly sent me some leaves. I am now starting to grow them and I am quite pleased with the foliage and the flowers. I will be selling some of the babies at our show at Northtown, March 30, 31st. Collection to receive $ 300 at National conventions. Hmm…sorta makes me want to grow them! If you would like to see some of the photos of the plants, go to the AVSA home page, then go to Photographs, then go to Explore the Russian Varieties. You will see there are 4 different hybridizers. All the plants listed have photos.

Time will really tell how they do in our warm houses but right now I have well over 100 babies and I cannot see any difference from the Russian violets from any others that I have and I am truly excited watching them grow, hopefully, into a REAL WINNER!

Thanks to Sharon Johnson for the article and picture!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

How to Post a Comment


Many of us would like to post comments but are not sure what to do. Here are hopefully some easy to follow instructions.

At the bottom of each article you will see wording to that indicated here. Click on the “2 comments” and it will take you to a “Leave your comment” box.

2 comments . Links to this post

  • Type you comment. It can be as long as you want.

  • Choose “other” or “anonymous” . If other - type your name (i.e. Barb W). Do not type anything in the “your web page” box. Leave it blank.

  • Read over your comment or preview.

  • Click on “Publish Your Comment” and your done.
Thanks to Barb W. for making this clear!!!