Monday, August 14, 2006

Violets for remembering

I don't do well with house-
plants. I keep trying, though. I bring home a pretty little plant, like this African Violet, to replace the last one I killed and hope to learn from my mistakes.

I've always wanted to be able to grow African Violets. I was successful once with a plant given by my sister-in-law at Easter. I was very careful not to kill it and had it re-bloom for me. Then last summer I thought it might like a vacation on the patio and baked it with late afternoon sun. Silly me!

My mother grew African Violets. I remember the windowsill in our dining room lined with them in pretty pastel shades of purple and pink. I came across an old pic the other night of the first Thanksgiving after she passed away. My father, newly responsible for laying out the feast, stands at the head of the table with my mother's violets neglected and dying on the windowsill in the background.

I must have been thinking of that photo when I brought this happy little violet home from the market this weekend. With the right combination of light, moisture, and luck I'll line the windowsills here with violets to rival my memory.

11 comments:

Susan Gets Native said...

Grow, violets, grow!
My grandma had about 20 violets that she kept in her dining room with special lights and we were intructed to NEVER touch them. To this day, violets make me nervous! :-)

Lynne said...

I inherited my Mom's brown thumb for house plants. Violets are so petty- good luck with it!

Randa said...

I hope Lynne doesn't actually think your violets are mean and small-minded... ;)

Even with a Green Thumb, I had never had luck with African Violets until we moved to the house we're in now. Someone gave me one, and I placed it in a west-facing window, in a spot with indirect light. Imagine my surprise when it FLOURISHED LIKE MAD. It consistently looks gorgeous, but, like Susan's grandmother, I allow no one to touch them - particularly myself!

robin andrea said...

We've had the same African Violet plant for about ten years. We don't do anything special. Water it once a week, and no direct sun, but in a room with good light. It goes through some periods where I worry it's not going to make it, but then it comes back. I wish you luck. They are such lovely plants.

Susan said...

I've never had any success with African violets re-blooming. Coincidently, I just saw some African violets for sale at the grocery store yesterday. I thought about buying one and giving it yet another try, but then thought the better of it - I need easy houseplants like philodendron.

Sandy said...

I have had two grocery store violets for a year. They have been blooming, but now are high out of the pot, the bottom leaves keep falling off. Does anyone else have this problem? I think I am going to try to replant them deeper.

Laura, they are hard to grow!

Michelle said...

Susan! You made me laugh, my Grandma used to have her picture window in her living room lined with them and we were under strict instructions NOT to touch them. I always had this vision of them dying before my very eyes should I even dare, but for a child - their leaves are so inviting ;)

I can't grow them either. Though I continue to try. Good luck Laura!

bev said...

My next door neighbour has wonderful African Violets, but I can't seem to keep mine alive for more than a year. Whenever my friend goes away, I sometimes water her plants. I can actually tell that they don't like me or think much of my care as they start to look unhappy about a week after she goes away. Luckily, I've never had to care for them for more than about 2 weeks!

LauraHinNJ said...

Seems there's a theme here... violets are not everyone!

Robin Andrea - love how you say you don't do anything special - must have that magic touch.

I'm not good with any houseplants - though I've had an asparagus fern for a few years (not a true fern, of course).

Right now I'm really trying with jades - they're easy, right?

I managed to propagate a few this winter - pretty impressed with myself!

African Violets though... sigh. Maybe I should just keep replacing them!

Egret's Nest said...

I have grown them successfully (although that was before children who seem to need even more time and care). Pot them in a small terra cotta pot, sink that pot in a larger decorative pot filled with sand. Water the sand and keep it moist. They'll pull the moisture they need from the sand. They like bright, indirect light (east window or obscured west window). To get them to live, these instructions will work. To get them to thrive and bloom, get a good African Violet fertilizer and feed, feed, feed them! Best of luck -- oh, and their leaves are just not that delicate -- brush them off with a soft brush if they get stuff on them but they can be touched without the plant curling up and dying. :)

LauraHinNJ said...

Thanks, egret's nest. I like your idea of double potting them; is there no worry of root rot with all that moisture?