Unfortunately, since my last african violet blog post I’ve had a mini-disaster – one of the reasons I’ve not much felt like posting recently. At some point I got a plant in my collection which had mites and mites, for those who don’t know, are fairly devastating to AVs. They stunt the grown of the crown and cause horrible leaf deformation, a huge slowing of growth and twisted flowers if they manage to bloom in the first place. Unfortunately, the treatment for mites is almost as problematic (for me) as the mites themselves and between the stress of the mites and treatment, I ended up losing, probably, ~80-90% of my violets.
Luckily, having had so many of my little seedling hybrids to start with, I still have some of them! I lost a growing seed pod, but it doesn’t feel quite so bad to lose ‘possible’ future plants as it would to lose those young ones which are getting close to maturity – or at least flowering size. From around 140, I now have 30-odd plants. Not all of them died to the problems – once I’d lost a few I found it was a little more inured to whittling them down. Before this, I had no idea how I’d be able to even cull a single one, despite the fact I knew I just didn’t have the space for 140 violets!
So far, only one is starting to flower – many of them are showing at least some trailing habit which means they’re concentrating on producing more crowns before they’ll put up flowers. I’m happy to wait this out as I’d rather have a better idea of how they grow than remove all of the suckers and see the flowers earlier. It’s decent trailing plants which I want – good form and shape, before trying to get pretty colours. This means, of course, that the only one which is flowering is one of the very few non-trailer type plants.
Even it’s being especially slow – teasing me with a slow, daily, petal-by-petal form of opening. The first bud is a lot paler than the rest, so even when it does get a move on it’s not likely going to be a good representation of the plant – I’m going to have to wait for the second one to slowly tease its way open over the next few days!
I can’t believe I have my first flowering hybrid, though – I didn’t really imagine I’d get this far when I first pollinated the parent plant nearly a whole year ago. The fact that they’re this far along, flowering after 6-7 months, feels amazing given that they had such a rough start.
Species & Restocking
Since the mitepocalypse, as I’ve come to refer to it, I’ve restocked a bit. Wonderfully kind Angelika Dibley sent me some plants when I was probably at my lowest regarding my violets – I wasn’t sure if I could summon the energy to continue with them. Her kindness cheered me up enough to give me the kick in the bum I needed to get cracking and, as well as restocking my plants, I’ve gained some new shelves for them to live on!
To restock, I also grabbed some plants at Gardening Scotland from Dibleys stall – some I’d had before and lost, others which were new. They’ve always gone out of their way to be helpful and this show I walked away with some lovely fully grown AVs alongside some other gesneriad plugs.
I also grabbed some leaves from Galina Domnina. Although the site, at first glance, looks only to be in German and Russian, there’s also English in there too. The shopping cart won’t work if you use google translate, so if you’re curious to read all of the russian etc. then make sure you cancel it before buying. The leaves I bought from her were top quality and I’m looking forward to them eventually spawning young-uns.
Additionally, I was given a species plant from a member of the AVSE (African Violet Society of Europe), Gabi. We’re keen on keeping the species going in collections all over the AV world and so she kindly sent me a plant of S. ionantha ssp. grotei (formerly S. difficilis).
One downside to the mitepocalypse and subsequent restocking, though, is that all new material is being strictly quarantined. Once was enough! This means that most of my violets are under plastic – not the prettiest look. However, eventually they’ll all be back in action and I’m looking forward to having shelves full of bloom again.
It also hasn’t stopped me starting on the next generation (albeit self-pollinated).