We will all succumb to this at some point in our years of growing violets, otherwise we wouldn’t have the passion necessary to grow and collect. It’s the nature of the beast, so to speak. Some of these special acquisitions meet our expectations, others will most assuredly disappoint. A plant may have a gorgeous, large blossom at the expense of acceptable foliage; or it may turn out to be especially sensitive to specific environmental or cultural inconsistencies. And indeed, many violet varieties I have grown over the years seem to have quite specific and consistent vulnerabilities that I’ve had to learn to accommodate if I wish to grow them.
These hiccups become problematic when there are multiple plants with distinct personalities and needs among hundreds of others. We don’t always have the time or inclination to coddle specific plants just because it has a great flower a few months out of the year. And sometimes, I have to admit the possibility that a plant may fail in my house but not in another. It might indeed be personal.
I make a habit of acquiring new varieties each year, either new releases or oldies that I have yet to try. I usually give them a good year to prove what they can do with acceptable care before I decide their fate. Usually, however, I tend to give them too long here. Every once in a while I get to a point where I am ready to purge. For growers with large collections, you can relate. Usually sometime in the fall is when I will do this, since the plants are generally subject to a fair amount of neglect in summertime and are probably looking their worst. I tend to focus more energy on outdoor gardening during this time, and I easily discover who in the violet room is up to the challenge and who simply cannot make it. I need tough plants. I love them and care for them, but I tend to cycle in my attentiveness.
And I have learned that it’s ok to purge. In fact, I fully recommended it! Yes, there are sometimes those stabbing moments of guilt, but after it’s all done, I feel refreshed and ready to move forward. Relieved, you could say. You may really love a bloom, but if the plant is susceptible to all sorts of wicked ways, by all means, let it go! There are other varieties out there that will do better for you. Try not to dwell on the fact that you searched three years for that plant or that it might be the last of its kind. If that is the reality, give cuttings to several people for posterity’s sake and move on. Real estate on the shelves is prime (as is our time and energy these days,) and if we have too many plants that cause us angst, we are not experiencing the true joy that can be had by growing them.