VIOLETS by ANN SHIVEL

Learning Lecture at the general meeting, 3rd Thursday monthly except July & August, was presented by Ann Shivel, Violet Grower Enthusiast in the month of April, 2017.  Ann has been a grower for over 20 years after moving to a home in Ceres with a bay window.  The window is perfect for growing the ever-blooming, lightly sweet fragranced African Violets.  Collecting violets of a rainbow of colors with unique ruffles and markings, Ann is delighted to share her passion for growing African Violets.

 

Blooming year round, growing African Violets indoors is quite easy.  Native to Tanzania, Kenya and other areas of East African, Violets thrive in the right soil medium with the correct nutrients and light exposure.

African Violets grow best in soil that is slightly acidic, loose and well draining for free root growth.  Commercial African Violet soil is great, or make your own using equal parts peat moss, vermiculite, and perlite.  African Violets like their rootball to be snug and secure. Choosing the right pot results in blooms, otherwise, in a pot too large the violet will not bloom.  A good rule is to put the plant in a pot that is 1/3 the size of the leafy plant.  Serious growers, like Ann, recommend using terra cotta over plastic to allow for good air flow.  Using a fertilizer formulated specifically for African Violets insures large healthy leaves and continuous lovely blooms.

African Violets thrive best when the soil feels dry to the touch.  Over watering or under watering will prevent the plant from blooming.  Use room temperature water rather than cold water, otherwise you could chill the roots.  You’ll know if the roots were chilled when the leaves and/or blooms start to curl.  Do not allow water to sit on the leaves, this will result in rings or spots.  If water does get on the leaves or flower, gently dry the area with an absorbent towel.

Providing lots of bright but indirect light will insure continuous bloom.  African Violets will not flower if they so not get enough sun.  However, they will scorch easily in direct sunlight, so their placement is very important.  In winter the plants do best near a window that faces south or west.  In summer, it is better for the plants to be near a window that faces north or east.  If only direct sunlight is available, use a lightweight curtain for filtered light, or move your plants further away from the window and the direct light.

Requiring lots of nutrients for continual flowers year round, it is best to use specific fertilizers that have the correct balance of nutrients. The best fertilizer is balanced 20-20-20; meaning equal ratio of nitrogen to phosphorous and potassium.

The best temperature range for African Violets is between 60-75 degrees, making for the perfect house plant. Keep them out of drafts, which will damage the plant.  They like humidity and without it, they may produce buds which do not open.

Easy to propagate, the African Violet has become an American favorite indoor plant.  A leaf cutting with stem dangling in water or split and inserted into damp soil will bring favorable results with new plants.  It is recommended to re-pot your African Violet yearly with fresh new soil in a fresh new pot.  HAPPY BLOOMING!

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