Saturday, February 28, 2009

African Violets love wet leaves, but...

This one is not like the others. Look at the tray and you wouldn't need to see the flowers of this African Violet to clearly see it is unlike all the others in my classroom. All the others are the descendants of a single plant that found its way to my room. This one has been propagated also but apparently all but one has sold.

I love propagating them. Not just because it is easy, but for the emergence. Take a leaf cutting, place it into a soil mix (1 to 2 parts sphagnum peat moss, 1 part vermiculite, 1 part sterilized loam, and 1 part clean coarse sand or Perlite).

Keep a bit moist and wait. What you won't see is the new roots, what you will see eventually is a new rosette (a circular arrangement of leaves) that will emerge at the base of the the leaf. I then have the students cut off that original leaf which gave its life for a new plant.

These plants love florescent lights at the school as much as my aloes shrink away from them.

They are classified in the genus Saintpaulia. But not the Saint Paul, but Baron Walter von Saint Paul-Illaire, 19th century German soldier, who was in on the "discovery" of the plants somewhere around Tanzania.

And that brings up something that mystified me. I have always heard that African violets do not like getting their leaves wet. Does that make sense? For years I didn't question it, then I wondered why it would be adapted to have dry leaves. It is not a desert plant.

Truth be told.... it's a myth. I do trust the word on the street that says the leaves don't like cold water. Maybe an experiment is in order. However, I can't guarantee no leaves with be harmed during the...

7 comments:

Sheila said...

I used to love to propagate African Violets too! I have long since moved on to bigger projects but none more satisfying than those little rosettes that would form at the base of the leaves.

tina said...

That's funny, on Gardening by the Yard; which I am watching right now they state African violets LOVE florescent lights. It would be great learning for your students to design and perform an experiment on cold versus warm water.

Wayne Stratz said...

sheila--- I have not done it this year. Maybe I am bored with the "same old". But it is cool for the students to witness so maybe I can then all take a cutting or two home.

tina--- I have read that they are one of the best plants for a light stand and I believe it. Thanks for the encouragement to do the experiment... results will be posted here.

Chandramouli S said...

Interesting info, Wayne.Does it survive hot tropical climates? I'd love to have 'em in my garden.

Wayne Stratz said...

Chandramouli--- That I don't know. If I had to guess I would say that they would not do well in full sun or high heat. I just did a quick search and most folk had little luck with them outside. If you try it, let me know how it goes. watch that hot sun though. I did see someone had them on a covered porch so they were in the shade all day.

Jan (Thanks For 2 Day) said...

When I had African Violets, (which I really enjoy having), they did very well until one day when I set them out on my deck to 'get some fresh air' in the summer. Oops. Big Mistake. I left them there too long, and the sun turned their leaves white/gray, wilted, and scorched the flowers...Basically, I had to remove just about everything but the main stem!! What's cool about many plants is that they will, of course, continue to grow and produce leaves...BUT my point is, I don't think they are meant to be outdoors where there is much heat and sun:-)

Wayne Stratz said...

Jan--- yes, gray is a color we rarely want to see on our leaves