Monthly Archives: January 2016

Grandmother had an obsession for African violets, every window in the house was filled with them and they were always in bloom. I remember helping her water them and picking off the spent flowers and her comments about how many more buds were on the way. She tended to them like little children and knew many by name.

African Violet [ Saintpaulia ] are natives of eastern Africa and were collected in the late nineteenth century, many by the Baron von Saint-Paul. Thus it botanical name. There are around 20 species, all are low growing evergreen perennials with several thousands of varieties. Loved for their long flowering periods and compact growth habits and are today one of the most popular of house plants. African Violets are rather easy to grow, bright light but not direct light, moist but not wet soil, actually on the drier side is better and never allow water to stand on the foliage as it will burn or rot the tender fuzzy like foliage. They are picky about their soils so I recommend you purchase a commercial mix just for African Violets, fertilize with African violet food or standard house plant food diluted. They bloom best when allowed to become slightly pot pound, repot when they become to leafy or they stop blooming for a long period of time.

African Violets will hold up to a little neglect and often I was told thrive on negative energy, however grandmothers home was far from negative and I think that was an old wives tale, as grandmother would say. Grandmother had  lot of stories and places she liked to visit on a routine basis, if it where apples there was her favorite orchids, if it was berries her favorite farm, so for African Violets her favorite greenhouse and every September she would take me to see the new verities and colors at Buell’s African Violets. I remember her driving the old Buick down the dirt road and into the gravel parking lot with rows of greenhouses in front of us and she would always say ” there we made it” how she would smile and take my hand to lead me to the first house with a door. I still remember the smell of soil and the moist warm air that surrounded us. Grandma, knew the owner and would chat about the new plants. She would say stay close and don’t touch just look. From time to time she would reach over the bench and clean a dead leaf or flower, looking closer at the many new pink or lavender flowers, she really loved seeing the new variations of color in the foliage and would often say to her self, ” to many choices”. Well it was a long, but fun day with grandma, as we pulled into her driveway at home and she would tell me there was one more thing we had to do before she got dinner on the table. We would go to the basement where she had a potting bench area near two large windows and a door leading into her gardens, here she would start seeds and tend to cuttings. She placed her large hand bag on the bench and asked me to gather the empty water glasses from the shelve, she had me place them in a row and then fill them with warm tap water. She would then cut squares of wax paper and cover each glass holding them down with elastic bands. With a pencil she would poke three to four holes in each one. Then she opened her hand bag and safely took out at least twelve or more African Violet leaves with stems and inserted them into the holes.

Now this was many years ago and grandma is no longer with us, so telling this story is safe, grandma was a good woman with a good heart and at the time for me that was grandma, after all there was always extra apples and berries, why not African violets. I’m note saying this was good and that you should do the same, it’s just a story of grandma.

I told you this story not only that with every time I see African Violets I think of her, but to also tell you this is one of the way you can propagate and reproduce new plants. It takes about a month or so, but the stems will send out roots and a new plant will begin to start. At this point pot the cutting and cover with a clear plastic bag with some holes in it for air flow, it acts like a small greenhouse.

Take some time this winter to explore your local nursery or greenhouse and see for yourself how wonderful these plants are with the many new miniatures and colors, purchase one and leave the propagation to the growers.

A thought; When one chooses a story to tell, let it be true to its self.