Making your African violet Flower
THERE are a number of reasons for African violets refusing to flower. Although the most frequently quoted reason is “lack of light”, that is by no means the only possible reason. Consider the following, all of which are equally important.
SOUNDS complicated? Not really. A person who hasn’t satisfactory food, clothing and shelter won’t thrive either. Pot growing produces unnatural conditions for plants, and, where in the ground they may fend for themselves to some extent, in a pot you need to give them a helping hand. So here is what to do.
WILTING, yellow “off-colour” African violet plants can be caused by poor watering practices, insect infestation, and too little fertiliser, potting mix that holds too much water or is otherwise unsatisfactory. Plants that seem otherwise healthy but have a plethora of leaves growing in an untidy pattern choking the production of flowers just need a little grooming.
What to Do
1. Repot your plant. This will stimulate growth. Do it in the warmer months of the year, preferably spring.
When repotting, remove all crowns except the centre one, and outside leaves that are old, tired or unlikely to produce flowers. Remember that flowers will come from the axils of newly grown leaves.
Loosen the old potting mix away from the roots. Trim the roots so that the African violet can be replanted in a squat pot no wider than 100 mm (4 inches) across.
Any bare stem where leaves have been removed should be scraped gently to expose green tissue.
Repot in a clean pot with the bottom leaves level with the new potting mix. Best results will be achieved if African violets are repotted each year.
2. Keep your African violets evenly damp and fertilised to get satisfactory growth. The easy way to do this is by wick-watering. For a plant that has been repotted, use plain water for the first few weeks. After that, appropriate liquid fertiliser should be used, diluted in the water each time the plant is watered, or in the wick-watering reservoir. Fertilisers high in phosphorus promote flowering and should be preferred. There are many suitable African violet fertilisers on the market.
3. Examine your African violets regularly for any signs of pests or disease. Common problems are thrip (in the flowers), mites (too small to be seen by the naked eye, they destroy the centre of the plant), and soil mealy bugs (slow moving creatures, which infest the root system, where they suck the sap of the plant).
If thrip are present in the flowers, remove all flowers and buds and keep them removed for a month or two to break the thrip cycle.
Plants suffering from mites or mealy bugs are better destroyed. A leaf may be taken for propagation. Disinfect and wash well before planting.
4. African violets are grown as indoor plants because they thrive in conditions similar to those enjoyed by most people. Temperatures of 18-25 degrees C. are ideal, but a much wider range than that can be endured. Humidity of at least 55% is satisfactory, but for reasonably short periods the plants can survive much lower. For adequate light, use the brightest position you can finding your home, just short of direct afternoon direct sun. Within 450 mm (18 inches) of a window is satisfactory. A lace curtain, venetian blinds or similar can be used to break up direct sun, so that the plants are not scorched.
This article appeared in of the Central Coast African Violet Club’s Newsletter, now disbanded.