Thursday, February 07, 2013

Violets: my nemesis

I've been trying to grow them for years; this is my latest victim picked up at the local hardware store. We only have north and south facing windows, so it sits on my south-facing desk, soaking up the winter sunshine.

Growing up, my mother had her beloved collection of violets displayed on the dining room windowsill.

Anyone have tips to share to prevent its untimely demise?

5 comments:

Liza Lee Miller said...

Violets like to be watered from below. I've had great luck in using either dedicated african violet pots OR a clay pot (not plastic) that is inserted into a larger pot that is filled with sand. Water the sand and the clay pot absorbs it for the violet. Also, they NEED feeding. Use an african violet food that you add with the water and you may get blooms. Also, you can make new african violets with cuttings. They root prolifically! Enjoy!

Wren nests in... said...

Advice from a fellow violet murderer: I had my best luck when I didn't fuss over them!

I've used violet pots (porous clay set in a pot of water) and sometimes left them in the plastic grower pots with just a saucer under them... Didn't seem to make too great a difference beyond it was easier to ignore the self-watering pots. My fatal "green" thumb usually happened when I ignored them for too long. Or when I put the plants where they received too much dry air/heat; I think that's the key to the windowsill effect--it's a bit cooler. They seemed to have liked my S/SW exposure windows.

It's extremely fun too take healthy leaves that get accidentally broken off and root them--new little plants pop up all along the leaf! Amazing.

Hmm, I have a nice southerly window with a broad sill here at work... I haven't found any primroses yet (I do a bit better at keeping those alive), but I did see African violets...

Good Luck!

Dr. Know said...

Water with tepid water, from underneath lest the leaves spot or rot. Overwatering is the number one killer as African Violets are prone to crown rot. Clay pots are preferred for neophytes as they dry quicker in case of overwatering. Fertilize lightly (half-strength of commercial product recommendations) before bloom time and less otherwise. No full sun exposure; an hour or two in the morning or evening is OK but a south facing window in the summer will likely roast them. They like bright filtered light, not direct southern sun. They take time to adapt to new lighting conditions but are otherwise fairly easy. Ignore them rather than overtend; which is the tendency at first.

Used to propagate hundreds of them from leaf trimmings and give them away to people who murdered them posthaste. ;-)

They went well with the Orchids and Cyclamen I also propagated. Sadly, the homemade greenhouse window had to be removed for home repairs and most indoor plants are now gone.

Good luck!

BTW, what's up with the cat photo? I heard through the cat rumour mill that you didn't care for your feline overlords... ;-)

LauraHinNJ said...

Thanks for the hints everyone! I've been watering from the bottom and have the plant set in a saucer filled with seashells. We'll see... I'll try not to kill it with kindness.

Brother Brian said...

Hey Laura, Mom used to put dilluted milk on her violets. I do the same with the houseplants at Kev's. Whenever I have a glass of milk, I rinse out the glass and pour a little on the plants. Works great, and re-activates the soil, especially dry overworked houseplant soil.