African Violets – Saint Paulia

African Violets - Saint Paulia
by John Howard

Growing erect or prostrate, with multi-colored tubular flowers, and leaves ranging in color from light green to bronze, Achimenes are popular plants for hanging baskets and window boxes.

The early spring month through summer is the time for propagating leaves. Cut a few leaves from the center of plant for best results. Trim the leaves stalk about 1 1/2 inches in length and insert in glass of water or vermiculite.

Water the containers lightly and set them in the basement or under a greenhouse bench away from frost and where they will not get too wet, dry or hot. A temperature of 50F. (10C.) during storage is satisfactory. Don’t let them dry out.

When the plants are ready to be potted, have ready a mixture of half soil and half vermiculite. Place a piece of flowerpot over the drainage hole, add some of the soil mixture set one crown to a pot (11/2-inch size), a finish potting.

Insufficient humidity causes leaf curl and bud drop. To increase the humidity, fill plant saucers with moist gravel, place pans of water near radiators or use plant sprayer.Plants should not be watered on cloudy or rainy days, unless, of course, they are very dry. It is well to check them daily, since allowing the soil to get too dry affects the tiny root hairs that absorb the food for the plant. These tiny hairs become incapable of absorbing water when dried out, causing a setback to the plant until new root hairs are grown.

When plantlets have outgrown the small pot, repot to a slightly larger one using a rich potting mixture made for African violets, as the ones described earlier. Try to keep plants root-bound to force blooms.

Garage Storage Units

For repotting, the soil should be a loose, friable one consisting of one-third good garden soil, one-third sand and one-third peat or leaf mold. To this mixture add one teaspoonful of bone meal for each quart of mix. The soil should be slightly acid, about pH 6.5. For the beginner and the inexperienced gardener, it is advisable to use one of the well- prepared organic soil mixes on the market. These mixes are complete and especially prepared for African violets. When potting, remember that the roots are delicate and the fine root hairs absorb the nourishment, so care must be taken to pot loosely, gently firming the soil about the roots. The potting mixture should be moist, not wet. Place a piece of broken flowerpot over the drainage hole of a large pot, then a 1/4 inch layer of chicken grit (or crushed oyster shells or flowerpot chips), followed by a wad :if sphagnum moss and the potting soil. Place enough potting soil in the pot so that when the root ball is set on it, the crown of the plant: 1/4 to 1/2 inch below the rim of the pot. If pots are to be watered from below, omit the drainage material and just cover drainage hole with broken pot chips.

The newly potted plants are ready for bath to cleanse the leaves of dust. Place them in the bathtub and sprinkle with tepid water from a watering can equips with a fine nozzle, until leaves are clean soil settled in the pot. Leave the pots in tub and keep them shaded and out of drainage until the leaves are dry. If leaves become weak and the room temperature is too cool, leaves will spot. Stem or petiole rot can occur where leaves touch the rims of clay pots. To prevent this condition, plant the plants only in plastic pots so that the leaves cannot touch the clay pot rims in paraffin.

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