I’ve been trying to get some work done this weekend on repotting. Since I did most of my repotting early last fall, I went ahead and just repotted anything that might have show potential. The Illinois state show is just 9 weeks away now, so in the scheme of things, I’m way behind schedule. But, I’m still adding new things onto wicks so that I can better gauge how well they can do for me. I’m running out of room to baby along those disappointing plants that never quite live up to the hype. Some plants just won’t like me or my conditions.
I did mention a long time ago that I had acquired more petrocosmeas. I love their fuzzy leaves and unique growing habit. So I had a couple different pets that needed repotting. For the first time ever, I am putting them on wicks. I know many people wick them, but I just never have. And maybe that's why they didn't do so well. For my experiment, I put p. momo and p. ‘Keystone’s Harvest Moon’ on wicks, and below are their mug shots. I want to watch them and see how they do.
I also wanted to mention that recently I bought a new light fixture. It was a bargain, so I figured it was a good time to experiment. It is a wide fixture that holds 4 T-5 bulbs. Be fully aware that 4 T-5 bulbs would probably fry African violets. So, I only put two bulbs into the fixture and have it about 10 inches above the plants. I started with a couple trays filled with mostly duplicates, both as mama leaves and babies. It’s been interesting. The light is a lot more intense than I’m accustomed to, but the plants have responded actually better than I thought they would.
Two things are absolutely sure – they have all required much more water than usual, and the foliage is much darker and more intense. They are drying out almost every other day whereas the other plants typically get watered once a week. But as it relates to their growth, plants with darker foliage have tolerated the T-5 light better, but all of them have been anxious or quick to bloom. For example, I have two babies of Ness’ Sheer Peach. Here they are, side by side:
The one on the left above was on the T-5 shelf and the other one was on my regular shelf with T-12’s. The plantlet that received T-5 light has grown much more compact and with much darker foliage. Interestingly, the blooms are really dark as well. The photos are a little washed out, but the difference in darkness is very striking. And the plants have just grown much differently. Compared to the other NSP, the T-5 plant almost seems like a sport. What are your thoughts? Is it a sport? Or does (and can) light intensity actually change the original genetics of a cultivar, or would the plant on the left eventually revert to resemble the one on the right if the lighting was the same?
By Amy Cash-Allison
It's all about the violets! :-)