– Ruth Coulson
(Ruth is with the Australian African Violet Association and lives on the Central North Coast of NSW)
(Originally published on the African Violets Down Under Facebook page.(www.facebook.com/groups/241227626277942/?fref=nf)
So, something goes wrong with one or more of your plants. You take a photo and put it on this Facebook group so that someone can tell what the problem is.
The questions come: How old is it? How long since it was repotted? What sort of potting mix did you use? Have you sprayed it with anything? What sort of fertiliser have you used as it was growing? And so on, and so on.
Don’t have an answer? This is where keeping careful records gives you an edge in tracing problems.
It doesn’t have to be a big book of records – If you have only a few plants you can write the majority of the information on the label on the pot. That is, you write the plant name, the date it was repotted, and possibly the batch of potting mix. Alternatively, if you buy potting mix you can write on the bag itself the dates you started using it, and finished it. Of course you would need to copy this information somewhere else if you finish the bag and discard it.
I used to put the name of the plant and the date of potting on the side of the pot. Someone said to me – “why bother to put the date. It is easy to tell when a plant needs to be repotted?” So I stopped putting the date. Then the problem struck and even when I discovered it was a batch of potting mix, I had no idea what or where the details were. It was a bit of a bother to solve the problems as I had a lot of plants at the time. But I am now a convert to recording everything.
Records you might keep include:
1: Plant name on the pot – absolutely essential
2: Date of repotting – as mentioned above, on the pot
3: Potting mix used – can be recorded separately in a book, if wished
4: Where and when you received the plant – many people like to have this record
5: Details of any spraying – this record better kept separately in a notebook
6: Type of potting mix used, and where purchased if relevant – very useful if you want more.
7: Fertiliser used – recorded in notebook – especially good record if you rotate fertilisers.
8: If you have 50 or so African violets list them to avoid purchasing duplicates.
9: Also list those you have already planted leaves for propagation – avoiding duplication.
Actually there is an endless list of things you can usefully record. Of course not everyone is a frustrated statistician, so don’t go too far. But you will find records very useful as your journey through African violet growing progresses.
The photograph shows some of my early record books. The open one has the recipe for potting mix that I was using in 1982. Long list of ingredients! Many kinds of fertiliser and other things as well all of which is Interesting to look back on. My plants were pretty good in 1982, but I am not tempted to go back to these recipes! Too complicated for this stage of life!