Now, I’ll give you an update on my little plants that are being wicked. It always amazes me to see how quickly plants will positively respond to wicking. On so many of these plants, I am already seeing buds forming! When I potted them just a couple weeks ago, I removed all buds and flowers. I can’t attribute this development to fertilizer, because the first batch of water I used to fill the reservoirs did not have fertilizer in it. I am just now seeing that some of the reservoirs are getting close to needing a refill, so I will use fertilizer next time. But all the plants are doing amazing!
Imp’s Christmas Wrap seems to have tightened up its growing habits. The petioles on the newer leaves are coming in shorter, and the leaves themselves are darker. This is probably because the plant is closer to the lights. With the reservoirs, they are approximately 2 ½ inches closer to the lights than they were in the trays. I’m liking the way the plant is looking now. I’ve already removed a few baby leaves, so it shouldn’t be long before it begins to look more mature. I can’t wait to see the blooms on this one! They sound very busy, and I love busy blooms!
Celina Elegance has also reacted to what I think is the strength in the lighting. The leaves have definitely started growing a little more downward, so I want to keep an eye on this one and make sure the petioles don’t get too short on new leaves. When that happens, it will inhibit the blossom stems from making it above the foliage and make the crown bunchier, which I want to avoid. I prefer a little bit more open growth than is sometimes seen on show plants. I don’t want to look down and see soil, but I also don’t want to have it be so tight that the plant looks like cabbage. Also on this little plant, I am watching to be sure that the foliage will show variegation, which can sometimes temporarily go away if grown too warm or bright. From photos I’ve seen, the variegation should be really striking on this variety, so I don’t want to lose it. If it appears to be getting too much light, I will move it to the end of the shelf where the intensity of the bulbs is less.
The last one we are watching is Tiptop, a registered variety from 1987 (a vintage!) I have not really noticed too much change in this one, although it is definitely growing. Since the foliage is naturally a dark green, it seems to enjoy being closer to the light bulbs and hasn’t shown any culture break yet. I think this variety has good show plant potential. The foliage is nice and flat, overlaps well and seems to stay in nice form without effort. It’ll be interesting to see how it shapes up and if the bloom count makes it a keeper.
There you have it! Until next time, good growing!
Hello, all you violet lovers out there! I haven’t been wasting any time with my plant work. It’s been chilly outside the last few days, so it’s perfect for working inside. However, I opened my last bag of potting mix yesterday (oh no, the horror!), so I’ll be ordering another supply very soon. I also want to order some new domes for my perma-nest trays. Over time, being under the lights, the domes tend to yellow and get brittle. If anyone knows of a way to combat this, please share. Otherwise, they are reasonable enough in price, so if I have to replace some every five years, I’ll do it. I’ve also seen the taller domes, so I think I’d like to try a couple of those as well. It looks like they will be better for starting large leaves or standard/large size plantlets.
For this blog, I wanted to revisit a topic I have written about in the past, and that is KEEPING RECORDS. I know that veteran violet growers all have their own methods, but for those of you who are searching for new ways of keeping track of your collection, I will share with you what I do. Maybe it will give you new ideas for what information to keep in your own records.
I began with an Excel spreadsheet and set it up for landscape formatting. By manipulating the sizes of each column, I have gotten mine to fit perfectly on the page, even with all of the following columns. I do have to use pretty small font, though.
1. Variety Name – Just that, alphabetically listed. It helps to set up your spreadsheet so that you keep track of how many varieties you have (numbered on the side). That way you know with a glance how many different cultivars you grow. It’s just novel information, but if you’re feeling like a guilty hoarder, you might not care to have it listed!
2. Size – This is the registered size for the particular variety (cultivar.) I like to have this listed, but it may not be important to you.
3. Source – This is the person, vendor, sale or other source that I acquired this particular plant or leaf. I also list the date. I think it’s really important to know this, for so many reasons! You might lose it and want it again; you might end up with pests and won’t want to use that person or vendor again; or you might be asked by someone else where they might obtain it if you can’t spare it at the time. If you include little else on your records, include this!
4. One column each for the follow: Plants, Babies, Leaves – In each corresponding column, I list how many of each I have. It’s useful when you have a larger collection and don’t want to give away your last plant of a variety or need to know if you have an extra baby for a friend.
5. Repot – This is the last date the plant or baby was repotted. It’s amazing when you look back and realize that a plant somehow got missed on your repotting regimen for 2 years. Yes, it really happens.
6. BT – A small yes/no column for whether or not the plant is blooming true. Sometimes I like a plant and keep it even when not blooming true; or I evaluate it as a potential sport. Other times, it’s good to know if you want to prepare a plant for show. But for me, it’s imperative info; I can’t sell any leaves from those and wouldn’t want to pass them along to friends, either.
7. Comments – A larger column that I use to add generalized growing comments. Some cultivars like it warmer, brighter, or tend to have little quirks. It’s good to have a place to add those. I also add notes here about how long a particular cultivar takes to come into full, show-worthy bloom after repotting.
8. Placement – I have 3 growing stands with multiple shelves each. I don’t have time to search through every tray and shelf looking for one little plant. I have a numbering system for my shelves and trays, so that very quickly, I can find exactly what I am looking for.
9. PIC – Do I have a picture? I take photos of my plants as they come into bloom or are in full bloom so that I can post them on the website. When I was trying to keep track of which ones I still needed to photograph, the column was added. It’s still useful now, so I’m glad I added it.
10. REG – Is the variety registered? Yes, I have a column specifically for this, although it would be very easy to just add something like ® ß after the variety name, and I may still do that. This info comes in handy when considering which plants to prep for a show. [Plants must be registered to put into an AVSA collection, but they may still be shown in regular classes.]
I do keep other inventory lists as well, and yours need not be nearly as complex or comprehensive as mine is. I’m just very organized and prefer to always know exactly what I have and where to find it. Your list might be as easy as a database of descriptions in your First Class © program, which I highly recommend. I don’t currently use the program, because it isn’t available for Mac yet. I don’t expect it will be anytime in the near future, so I just get my descriptions from other sources. But, if you want to check into it, follow the link for First Class © on my Link page.
Below is just a little teaser of what my inventory template looks like. Maybe it will help you envision how to set up your own.
Until next time, happy growing!
What a rough summer my poor plants have had. I’m anxious to get back into the plant room and undo the neglect! Already, I’ve been tackling repotting and cleaning, weeding and purging, restarting leaves, etc. Just this week alone, I’ve repotted nearly 40 plants and set quite a few leaves down for propagation. I routinely like to restart some of my favorite varieties from leaves so that not only can I keep a duplicate, but also to be sure that they are still producing true vegetatively. Plus, isn’t it just fun to grow more plants from leaves? No matter how long you have grown violets, seeing little mouse ears never really loses its appeal.
Anyway, after a rough summer on the plants, I’m anxious to see them in tiptop shape again. A huge part of my problem this summer was with my inconsistent watering practices. I typically bottom-water in community trays, and the plants are not always at the same level of dryness. Some will stay wetter longer or dry out quicker. Over-watering dry plants will rot them quicker than you can determine how to save them, and I did lose a few plants to rot this summer. Also, when the plants are dry, you should never fertilize them. Needless to say, my plants went a good portion of the summer without food. They are hungry!
This is why I don’t feel as though bottom-watering violets will give you the best results. I do it because it’s easier and quicker, and I’m generally conscientious enough to avoid problems. But if I had fewer plants or were growing specifically for show, I would wick water my violets. I think the even moisture and regular, hands-on care of each individual plant really will yield the best results.
<--- So, I decided to set up some of my plants on reservoirs again. I chose a few favorites that I want to see beautiful again, and I also chose some new ones that I’d like to evaluate. If I give plants on wicks my best care, I will know very quickly how well they will do and if they’re worth keeping in my collection.
I’ll try to keep you all updated on a few of my newer varieties. We’ll check in with them periodically and see how they’re doing. A brand new one for me is Celina Elegance by Hortense Pittman. I received a leaf from my friend Andrea almost a whole year ago! And I’m just now separating babies! Yes, that is really how behind I am this summer! It’s terrible, I know, but I really want to watch this one and see how it does. A couple other new ones for me are Imp’s Christmas Wrap and Tiptop. Tiptop is an older semi-mini, also by Hortense, but it’s showing great promise and really nice form. The Imp’s series by J. Jackson is relatively new, so I’m curious to see how this miniature plant will perform for me. So far, it’s looking a little big for a mini, but it shouldn’t take long now to see how it matures.
Happy Fall, everyone! I hope the new cooler season is inspiring you to tidy up, repot and rejuvenate as well. Think of it as “spring cleaning” in the violet room! Until next time, good growing.
I think I missed a blog last month, but you’ll have to forgive me. I was gone for almost two weeks, because my father suffered a heart attack. Every little girl loves her daddy, so I didn’t think about it, I just went. A few orders were delayed, and I apologize for that. I’m so grateful to say that after a surgery, my dad is doing well and recovering. And even though the road may sometimes seem long, I’m grateful that we have a long road to look down now. :-) With all the upheaval in my life, I’m once again reminded that when things get tough, I often find myself in the plant room, without even meaning to be there. Our plants offer wonderful ways to recuperate, rejuvenate and feed our souls.
The leaves on the trees are changing, and the nights are getting chilly up here in Chicago. Soon, it’ll be too late for me to safely ship out leaves, and I prefer to take a break over the winter. A lot of great vendors out there will sell leaves in winter, but I use that time period to rejuvenate my plants and collection. I’m able to groom, repot, and give special care to the plants that I want to enjoy year round. It’s my time to reevaluate all the plants I grow and give them a real chance to show me what they can do. My space is prime real estate, so there has to be something to love about everything I grow. With all that in mind, I decided that I wanted to give back. I know people are checking out my site, some of you have placed some orders recently (for that, I thank you!) If you are interested in a free box of last minute leaves, I will send two boxes out next week on Tuesday, Oct. 9. Be the first two people to comment on this blog, and I’ll send you a free box. Just remember I can’t guarantee that all listed varieties are still available. These are my choice of varieties. But, hey – they’re free. Totally free, not even shipping. :-) All I ask is that you need to live in the lower 48 of the U.S. I don't do international shipping. ;-)
Happy Fall, Y’all
(Happy Birthday to my nephew Samuel. And Happy Anniversary to Pat and Kelley)