Saturday, March 13, 2010

I'm still alive! and answering questions about African violets

I've been around, checking other people's blogs, busy on Face book, and with real life, too :)
I've even had a few ideas to post about, but just didn't.
So, here I am today, inspired by Lynn/Lynnita's recent question about African violets.
A little back ground, I used to kill these babies with regularity. And I thought of them as 'old lady' flowers (and now I AM an old lady!). Then I received a great tutorial from an African violet master (plus some starts from her beauties), and mine have done great since then.

So, Lynn says:
Your violets are beautiful. How much and what kind of light will they grow under?
Recently, I bought one and would like to try to grow them.
I have a 10' porch that wraps around my house, therefore, there's no window sill with enough light for them.If I grow them under uv (ultraviolet) lights, how long do I leave them there?
In late spring and summer, I can put them on the porch.
What direction should I face them?

Here's my best answers, feel free to chime in on comments if you have some more ideas for Lynn.
African violets do need a fair amount of light. I agree that some supplemental light would probably be necessary for plants growing that far away from windows. I don't have UV lights for mine, so let's hope someone out in blog-land has some experience and advice to offer.

They don't do well with drafty areas, though, so I wouldn't put them on a porch unless it was enclosed with glass, not just window screens.

The violets that bloom best for me are in my south facing (traditionally the best light) window. (argh! why do I only have one south facing window??)
Over time, violets tend to bend and fall over the lip of their pots as they grow and extend along on their stem. I find that turning them a quarter turn every time I water them helps them grow more evenly. Pick a direction; I turn all my houseplants clockwise.

A few more tips:
African violets don't do well in water-logged soil. I water mine every ten days. They only look delicate, so even if they get dry enough to wilt, they will recover.
I let the water sit for at least a day in a pitcher, to let the chlorine evaporate from the tap water, before I water my violets. The water needs to be at room temperature, obviously. And as far as remembering when I watered last, after I water my houseplants, I go to my calendar, count ten days, and write 'water houseplants' on that day. simple.
I use Peter's African Violet plant food. It's fab. 12-36-14, with micronutrients.
It's worth it to buy the African Violet potting soil.

So, thanks, Lynn, for those questions, and for motivating me to get back to my blog.


Lynne's Somewhat Invented Life said...

Welcome back! Be glad you have one south facing window. ALL my windows face east and west. Sigh.

donna said...

I'm thrilled to see you back posting. I even checked in a few times over the past months and hoped that nothing was wrong.

This old lady doesn't have any African violets, but would like some. Not sure I have the right light and then there's the issue of our cat, Butterscotch.

The blogging world needs you, so please post again soon.