Watering Miniature African Violets

I’ve long suspected that something in my ‘regime’ is a little off for my smaller AVs.  Recently, after some chatting back and forth with various people,  I’ve come to suspect I wasn’t watering them enough – I was too used to my big plants, where I could go a week or even two without watering them and still expect to get good shows.  I’d also been a little worried about over-watering some of my plants as african violets are very susceptible to root rot in wet conditions.

Fortunately, I happened to have 5 plantlets of the same cultivar on hand which were all about the same age and size.  I decided to experiment to see which would grow better under different watering regimes – testing both soil density and watering. I promise the little green one is the same plant – it had mosaic leaves just before this picture was taken but I stripped them all down to ~4 mature leaves each for a more even comparison – I’m not sure if it has sported or just decided to be all green for a little while.

Plants 1 & 2 have 40:60 perlite to compost.
Plants 3 & 4  have 50:50 perlite to compost.

Plants 1 & 3 would be watered every four days (a little lower frequency than suggested as it’s still chilly here so they’re not drying out fast).
Plants 2 & 4 would be watered when I ‘felt’ they were getting dry (my ‘usual’ regime, probably about once every 8 days).

This would test whether a more or less retentive soil would do well under either condition and whether a plant watered more regularly would grow better.  I suspect the soil with less perlite will do better under the lower water conditions and the higher perlite might do better under the higher water volume – though if neither rot then it may well be the one with more compost comes out on top as both are still fairly well drained substrates.

Plant 5 is in a 50:50 mix with a wick. (I didn’t have a sixth plant to try out 40:60 on it)

I’ve had a member of one african violet community tell me that he found that his hand watered plants do better than wick watered ones so I’ll be interested to see if that ends up being true for me.

So far, they are all doing reasonably well with plant 3 (50:50, watered frequently) and plant 4 (50:50, watered less frequently) looking to have grown the most in relation to when they started but it’s only three weeks in, so far, so anything could yet happen.

Hopefully in a couple of months I’ll be able to update on these little plants and see who’s done best in the long term – especially as we’ll be moving into warmer weather and longer days – so their growth won’t be slowed by being on a slightly chilly window!

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