Saturday, November 28, 2009

marking time

Five or six (we're not sure) years ago, Solon and I went to the local garden center to buy him a plant. He was five (or four, we're not sure) and he chose an African violet. The African violet thrived. It thrived a lot. We moved it into a bigger pot, and maybe we even divided it once (we can't remember that, either). This year, home for Thanksgiving, I was asked to please help divide it again. Which, of course, I was happy to do. And since African violets are such obliging, gratifying house plants, it occured to me that some of you might have one, in desperate need of division. If you do, then here's how Solon did it. I suggest you follow his instructions.

First, find two (or more) pots in which to plant your divisions. Solon wasn't sure that this pot would work because there was no hole in it, and he reminded me that he waters his African violet from the bottom.

Without a hole in the bottom, the plant couldn't absorb water, could it? No, it couldn't! So we went down cellar and chose two, terra cotta 4" pots for the two divisions we anticipated.

I knocked the violet out of its pot (onto the newspapers, of course) and told Solon not to be shy. He easily pulled apart the two main clumps of the plant.

Next Solon coverd each drainage hole with a stone,

then poured a little fresh potting soil into the pot. I held the plant in place while he added soil around the plant, pushing it in deep.

We thought we'd have two African violets after the division, but while we were pulling things apart, we found two mini-plants, trying their best to push up from underneath the leaves of the larger plants. These clumps didn't have many (any?) roots, but we thought we'd try an experiment. We potted them up in 2" pots, then placed each one inside a zip lock bag.

Solon inflated each bag (after reminding me I should say inflate instead of blow up. Apparently blow up means something different to little boys...), creating a mini-greenhouse for each mini-violet.

In the end we had two, freshly potted, blooming African violets, and two mini violets, which Solon has promised to send me regular reports on. He's going to open the bags once a week, check the soil moisture, water if necessary, and re-inflate the bags. Solon asked what he should do if the plants start growing and outgrow the bags? I explained that if they start growing, they've established roots and they can come out of their mini-greenhouses. Fingers crossed.

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At November 29, 2009 at 10:50 AM , Blogger Marie said...

Wonderful! He reminds me of me at his age, with my own craze for African violets. I had windowsillfull, and loved propagating them from single leaves.

I think I will buy one again. Thanks, Solon!

At November 29, 2009 at 1:32 PM , Blogger SaraGardens said...

Great job, Solon - great pictures, Aunt Ellen... I don't think I've ever seen such a stunning African violet. (I think maybe because I didn't follow instructions as well as Solon did.)

It will be a while before my Petrocosmea (very like the Afr. violet) is ready for division, but I'll be following these instructions when the time comes!

At November 29, 2009 at 8:40 PM , Blogger joey said...

An adorable post! Delighted to visit via Shady ... and thanks for the Fricasse of Oyster Mushroom recipe that I'm anxious to try :)

At November 30, 2009 at 1:50 PM , Anonymous Leda Meredith said...

Well done, Solon! But then, he had an excellent teacher!

At December 11, 2009 at 3:07 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

oh, it's beautiful!
we just recently snipped a plant and are waiting for new growth... fingers crossed.

At December 16, 2009 at 7:13 PM , Blogger Robert's Tropical Paradise Garden said...

Ha, my son hates to do anything in the garden, lucky you! I like your blog and website. I am a horticulture therapist and would like to connect on linkedin with you!


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