Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sorry haven't posted in a while

Hey All,

Been busy with work, etc but I have still been caring for my plants. Last night and today I cleaned my trays and refilled reservoirs. The plants are always a lot happier when we maintain a clean growing environment. Until later enjoy the pics!

Friday, November 5, 2010

November Meeting of AVSP

Last night I attended my club's monthly meeting. I haven't been since April of 2010 because I live in center city Philadelphia and do not have a car to drive to the meetings. Yesterday I found out that the bus takes you right to the meeting spot and picks you back up right outside of it. DAMN! I wish I had known about the bus all this time. It was super easy, cheap, and convenient. It does make it hard to carry plants to the meeting for our "Little Show" but I'll figure that out in time. I wanted to share a few pictures of plants that two members brought in to show off for us. The first plant is Buckeye Seductress and that it is. There must be 150 blooms on this plant and unfortunately it bloomed too late for our October show. The second photo is of Teen Chatter, an unregistered Pittman plant. Very nice bloom but can anyone tell me why the plant could not be exhibited? Happy growing!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I didn't get to exhibit again :(

Sadly I did not get to partake in our club's judged show yesterday. As you saw in my last post I was in Maryland from Thursday thru Saturday for a wedding. It was a disappointment because I had a beautiful plant of Looking Glass which I grew for the show and had to leave it home. In previous posts I have pictures of it but now it is gorgeous and full of bloom. I think I might have won with it but I'll bring it next year. Here are a few photos of the plants I didn't get to show. Feel free to leave any comments, suggestions, etc for me. Happy Growing

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Went to a wedding outside Baltimore so stopped to see the Baltimore AVS Plant Sale Today

I know I haven't posted in a while and I have no excuse for it. Our local show was today but unfortunately I was at a wedding until this afternoon so was unable to exhibit my few plants. I had a nice plant of Looking Glass which I think might have won an award but there is always next year. I did manage to fit some violets into my trip to Maryland. It so happened that the Baltimore AVS was doing their annual plant sale so I stopped by and of course came home with some goodies. The sale was very nice and the member grown and commercial plants were very beautiful. I happened to buy all plants grown by none other than Marie Burns. Her plants were fabulous and inexpensive. The most I paid was $8 for a plant. She brought about 50 plants to sell and made her club some money. I picked up 7 plants because I have too many and normally grow from leaves. I got Bob Serbin, Frozen in Time, Ian Minuet, Arctic Frost, Lucien Croteau, Harbor Blue, and Jolly Coral. The pictures are below for your reference. I had a chance to chat with Marie for a few minutes and we spoke of her earlier hybrids. She said that she has been trying to get her hands on them and it has been a challenge. Many people do not grow them in her nor my area. I told here that I had also been interested in plants especially Party Print and it has been near impossible for me to find it. She said some people in Texas still grow it and that whoever gets a leaf first has to give the other a starter plant of it. So this is my plea for you to put out your feelers and help me find a leaf or plantlet of Part Print. Here are a few pics of the sale as well as the plants I took home with me. Enjoy

Monday, August 30, 2010

Back from Vacation....I think the plants liked being neglected

Ever feel like you hawk over your AVs? Sometimes too much attention is a bad thing. I went away last week to Florida (Disneyworld with the family) and left my plants all to themselves. I'll say that when I returned my plants looked okay. First, some were starting to lean towards the light (those at the end of the stand) because I was not there to turn them. However, once I got them turned the problem was easily fixed. Another not so good outcome was that my plant of Leading Lady is starting to bleach and yellow in the new growth. It has been growing on the bottom shelf of my light cart and since I wick the plant has been growing at about 5-6" away from the lights. This distance would be fine for semiminis or minis but not standards. The typical distance from the top of the pot and the light should be 10-12" for standards. I have moved the plant to the top shelf and it is now about 10" away from the tubes and I also moved it to the end of the stand so that the light intensity is not so strong. Some positive things that happened while I was away include my plant of S. Tongwensis, which is starting to come into bloom as well as the plantlets that I potted up before I left have started to root and seem to be growing well. I'll have more posts this week and hopefully pictures as well as an update on my showplants. Right now my eyes are burning so I need to get some sleep. Goodnight all!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Potting up those Babies

Back in April I ordered some beautiful semi and mini leaves from Andrea Worrell of The Franklinhouse. Well, babies came and came and they were finally ready to pot up this month. Last week I set everything up and went to town potting up the babies. I'm excited because I really like semis and minis and haven't grown any in about a year. Now I have about 5o plantlets wicked and ready to grow for show in the coming months.

Like any plantlets I pot up I start them in solo cups and write the name and date on the pot. I insert a wick through the bottom of the pot and fill the bottom of the pot with about 1" of perlite and then my regular potting mix on top. I wrap the wick around the pot so that there is even distribution of water through the soil and make a hole in the top of the soil and insert the baby in the mix. I water with a gallon of water with 10 drops of Superthrive and 1 tsp of Physan 20. It is best to not fertilize right away because the roots are so tender and you dont want to burn them. The plants are then put into their own greenhouses (ziploc sandwich bags--blown up) and set aside for about a month to root. They are then ready to be placed on their own reservoirs but a dilute fertilizer solution. As some of you know Andrea is an amazing grower and I hope to grow these semis and minis just as beautifully as hers. Here are a few pics showing me repotting the plantlets and then in their greenhouses under lights. ENJOY!!!

6 Weeks Til SHOWTIME!!!!

Ahhhh, the show is approaching very fast. My local club, the African Violet Society of Philadelphia, is scheduled to have their show on Saturday, October 2, 2010 from 11:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. Unfortunately, our show is only one day this year as opposed to two but if you are in the area we would love for you to stop by and see our plants. The show will be held at Cathedral Hall, Cathedral Village Retirement Community, 600 East Cathedral Rd, Philadelphia, PA 19128. This will be the first year in about 5 years that I plant to exhibit plants. As I mentioned before while in college I grew plants in my dorm but was in another part of the state and could not enter in shows the from 2004-2008. Also, the last 2 years I haven't devoted as much time to my plants so they were never ready for show. Now I am getting my act together and plan on taking at least 2 decent plants to the show. One is Looking Glass, which I am hoping will bring me home a big award. I have been babying it for a while now and if I can get a good head of blooms on it I think it will be an impressive plant.

I have been following our show schedule and my plant timers are now on 14 hours a day. At si weeks before the show it tells me to disbud single blossoms for the last time, check for suckers, and wash the foliage. Yesterday I washed the foliage on a few plants. I use distilled water because there are no minerals in the water that will leave marks on the foliage when it dries. It works well and you can dab the water drops that form at the base of the leaf and then put the plants right back under the lights. I know I love getting a shower and feeling fresh and clean so I can imagine the plants are happy and can "breath" easier now that their pores are clean. Here are a few pics of my show plant progress. Please let me know what you think.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Few Plants that I love

Here are a few photos of plants that I used to grow. I need to get these back in my collection.

The first plant is Rob's Bed Bug. I used to love this semimini when I got it. It always shaped up nicely and the little purple rosebud blooms were a nice contrast to the variegated foliage. The next photo is of a semimini from Lyons. It is Cupid's Jewel. Another plant that was no fuss and shaped up nicely. The 3rd photo is Carousel Waltz. It is a trailer and while I don't grow many trailers this plant was quite prolific and easy to take care of. The 4th photo is of a non-blooming 'Deano' from Hortense Pittman. This is an older variety that I sadly lost. It was given to me by one of my mentors and I would love to get my hands on leaves of it again. Just for fun the last picture is of Rob's Bed Bug again but this plant was grown in a different location than the other. Can you see how different the foliage can be depending on the climate it was grown in?

Sticky Traps- A Violet Growers Best Friend

Ever go into your plant room and see fruit flies or fungus gnats flying around your plants? While they are not harmful they are a nuisance. The trick to getting rid of them is to hang sticky traps from your stands. Either blue or yellow work well because the flies are attracted to those colors. You can change the traps out every few months and those annoying buggers will no longer be a problem.

Chimeras----Pinwheels of Fun

Chimeras are a unique type of African Violet. They are a mutation and will not bloom true from leaf cuttings. They must be propagated by blossom stems, de-crowing a plant or using products such as Keki-gro. The easiest way to propagate them is by removing the crown, repotting it, and letting the plant sucker and harvesting the new plants. The second photo shows a plant that has had its crown removed for propagation. Since this requires more effort and time chimeras are more expensive than normal african violets. A great source for chimeras is African Violet Chimera They have an ever-changing collection of chimeras for sale. Be sure and check back on their page often because they change it frequently.

Just for fun here is a picture of a chimera I have called 'New Dawn.' It is a Lyon's hybrid and has pretty blossoms. I just potted this one up a few weeks ago and am waiting for it to form more roots.

Spending too much time on the violet sites!

I have to admit I have a little bit of a problem (obsession) with african violets. I am constantly checking my favorite sites (several times a day) to see if anything new appears. I must check ebay 5 times a day just to see what is up for auction. I belong to the African Violet Brat Pack and am constantly checking out the new postings from members. Two of my favorite sites are Darryl Hoover's Blog about growing african violets and the Barrington Bloomers Blog. Both are full of information and frequently updated. I love reading about individuals' experiences growing and seeing their photos always renews my interest in growing. Like I said it has become quite a "problem" and I should limit myself to checking these sites once a day but I can't help myself. Please check out their pages, you will learn a lot!

There are many ways to propagate leaves...Experiment and find the right one for you

When I first started growing african violets I put down every leaf that was given to me. I couldn't throw a single one out. I was taught to cut the petiole of the leaf to 1" and do it on an angle facing me so that when planted the tiny leaves would grow up in front of the mother leaf as opposed to growing behind it. First, I wash the leaf in a solution of mild dish soap (Ivory) and luke warm water. Then, cut the leaf on an angle and insert it into a solo cup filled 3/4 full of regular african violet soil. Next, I water the leaf with a plain water with 10 drops of superthrive per gallon. Finally, the leaf is placed in an individual plastic sandwich bag and placed under lights. Within 8 weeks tiny mouse ears will appear and when the leaves are about the size of a dime the plantlets are ready to be potted into their own pots (Topic for another post). I must mention that when putting down a leaf you must write down the name of the variety and the date it was put down on the plastic pot. Usually, I write down the variety's name, classification (semi, standard, etc) and the date planted. Now, just sit back and wait.

Like any grower I have experimented with different methods of propagation. As opposed to rooting the leaves in their own solo cups, sometimes I root the leaves right in plastic sandwich bags with a few scoops of soil. It requires one less step and proves to be fruitful. You can use a clothespin and hang the bags from your lip stand or simply lay the bags in the tray. I have also the small black portion cups that you get carry out sauces from restaurants in. They are very shallow and work well for semi, mini, and trailer leaves.

Let me also mention that people prefer to root their leaves in water and once the roots form, transplant them into soil. Personally, I feel that this method adds an unnecessary step to the process but for those like Andrea Worrell it has proven to be the best method for them. It must work because her plants are all perfection!

I have attached a few phots below showing leaves rooting in solo cups, plastic bags, and the portion cups. Make sure and experiment and see which method yields babies the fastest!!!

Blast from the Past

Well as I said before I have grown plants for a while and in some very interesting places. One of those happened to be my old dorm room at school. The setup was simple and I only had a few plants but it was still a fun time. Believe it or not the plants were pretty healthy and happy at school. While they were a distraction at times they helped keep me same. If I am proof of anything it is that you can grow plants in pretty much any location. All they need is love and care. Enjoy

Growing Show Plants

As I stated in my initial post, I grow for pleasure but I truly love growing my plants for show. It is challenging, fun, and can be very rewarding. I only have a few plants right now but "less is more" in this case. I am able to focus my attention of these plants and hope to be well rewarded come show time. The two plants that I am focusing on are "Looking Glass" and "Leading Lady." Both are large growers. My plants are a decent size. Since the show is in October I have a few months to get them in gear. I will post more about their progress in the weeks and months to come. Here are a few photos of the plants.

Everything you need to repot

Repotting African Violets is essential to achieve vigorous growth of your plants. For the casual grower it is recommended that you replant your violets every 6 months or twice a year. For those of us that grow for show it is more frequent. If growing for show, Pauline Bartholomew recommends " repot about every 2 months: 2 months in a 2.5" pot, 2 months in a 4" pot, and 2 months in a 5" pot..." Whether or not your grow casually or for show there a certain things you need in order to repot your african violets. I always gather everything I need before repotting because it makes the process much faster. You'll need newspaper (lay it down on your potting table and after each plant is repotted you can pick up the piece with all the old soil, etc and throw it away leaving you with a clean piece underneath. You will also need wicking material, pots, soil, perlite (if you put it in the bottom half inch of your pot), some sort of marker and label for the date and name of the plant on its pot, reservoir for the water, sucker plucker, knife for scraping the neck, and finally plain water with 10 drops of superthrive per gallon. It is not recommended to fertilize immediately after repotting because the roots are sensitive and you do not want to burn the roots or crown by fertilizing immediately. Regular fertilizing can resume 2 weeks after repotting. Enjoy the photo I have taken of "Everything you need to repot."