So for this blog, once again, I am checking in with my show plants. This time, I just took general pictures of the shelves and how the plants are looking. I’m still way behind schedule, and even with a miracle, I won’t have the amount of blooms that I’d like to have. But, with some luck (and extra warmth and light in the plant room,) I might have a few worthy candidates for the show tables in two weeks.
The dominating theme right now is “show-time.” For anyone who shows their plants, this is pretty much what everyone is talking about: how are the show plants looking? Between affiliate spring shows and the national convention in 12 weeks, even those who don’t exhibit their plants are talking about shows. Because if you can’t show, please at least go!
What’s the big deal, you might ask? Well, for affiliate clubs, an annual show is the one time of year to show off how magnificent well-grown African violets can look. Public visitors, whether or not they grow violets themselves, are always, always in awe of the beauty and variety of the plants on exhibit, even if it isn’t a judged show.
Some smaller clubs simply have an exhibit without awards and ribbons, and this is really just as fun for the public, too! Part of the reason clubs have shows and exhibits is to encourage the public to try violets and potentially even join or get involved in the club. Most clubs generally focus on the educational opportunities that the exhibits and shows allow. With even just a little bit of good advice, most people who didn’t think they could successfully grow violets, can and do!
Not all of my plants are bare of flowers. I've had a couple surprises lately: sports!
And here are some more bloomers to brighten up this first day of spring . . . . .
The Illinois AVS spring show is approximately 4 ½ weeks away now. I’m showing a few pictures of plants that I would like to show. Whether or not they make it is another story. I showed a photo of Rob’s Whippoorwill a few blogs ago when I groomed and repotted for the show prep. Now, we’ll take a look at its progress and revisit some other old favorites for comparison’s sake.
On the left is the plant when I repotted and groomed it (a few months ago). On the right is how it looks today. You can see how the foliage has really filled in. This is what disbudding will do for a violet. Without blossoms, the plant's energy is used for foliage. When the plant reaches the size and shape you desire, you allow it to come into bloom. The plant usually makes up for the time it missed and will bloom its fool head off for you. That is how growers have plants that are in perfect bloom for show. Timing is everything! I also want to point out one more thing on this plant. On the right, you can see how there are marks on some of the leaves. This particular variety is super sensitive to cold water, so winter is a touchy time for this one. Since I wick, this plant has developed some leaf mars that illustrate cold water damage.
Now let's take an updated look at those 3 plants we were following before and see how they look today.
I’ve always been told that at about 4 weeks, the majority of buds should be breaking the foliage or close to it. Unfortunately, that is not the case with my plants! I’m sad to say that most of my plants are just now beginning to show buds. That doesn’t necessarily spell doom, but the chance of having huge heads of blooms in 4 weeks is probably not a realistic expectation. Some will do better than others. Below are some others that I'm hoping might come through for me.
So, what did I do wrong? To answer that, I go back to the repotting stage. At a minimum, potential show plants [I am referring to semis and minis here, since standards need even more time] really should be repotted at least 12 weeks before show time. My plants were repotted more like 9 weeks before show. That’s not really enough time for the plant to generate excellent foliage before having all its energy taken up for bloom production. In addition to late repotting, I also disbudded about a week too long. I did it because I wanted/needed a little more time for the foliage to shape up (because I waited too long to repot!) So, it all goes back to that.
Getting a good start is key. Repotting on time is important, but the more experience you get with your plants and their individual growing habits, the better you will be able to predict how long each variety may need for bloom production. In the past, I’ve tried to keep track of how long it takes certain plants to come into full bloom. If you want to show a few plants really superbly, this is the way to do it. Choose a few to prep for show (even if there isn’t a real show.) Follow a show prep schedule and then make a note of how long it took that plant to come into perfect show condition from the repotting date. Then next time there is a show, you will know pretty accurately when you need to begin.
That's it for now. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, because at this point that's about all I can do!
By Amy Cash-Allison
It's all about the violets! :-)