– 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)
The most important thing you can do for African violets isn’t watering, fertilising, or potting. It isn’t a matter of how much light.
The most important thing you can do is to SHARE.
It doesn’t matter how you do this. You might have a buddy or a group of friends with whom you share plants, or you might share by just offering leaves of your plants to other growers on an occasional basis. Selling excess plants to other members of a society or on eBay is yet another method of sharing.
By sharing you give yourself some insurance against actually having some disaster happening to your plant, as you can always get a leaf for propagation from someone you have shared it with. If you share widely you can help to ensure that the plant stays in cultivation and is not lost to growers for good. You will also be contributing to promoting the growing of these plants.
There have been so many cases where a grower has something beautiful and unique but declines to propagate and share. When the inevitable happens and they cease growing, or have personal or plant problems and lose the plant - it just disappears entirely.
It is even more important than ever that we should try to preserve the plants at present in cultivation. So much of the past has gone for good as we are all lured by the new.
A case in point would be the wonderful “Colonial” series African violets. These were produced by Hams of Blackwood Nurseries in South Australia in the 1980s and early 1990s. 187 were listed. This includes some truly lovely and special plants and some that would no doubt continue to win shows today if they were grown and entered. But very few are seen, although those that are seen continue to be a delight.
I don’t suppose many of us would be growing Colonial Coromandel, Crystalbrook, Ashbourne, Parramatta or Rosehill today. Or Colonial Port Arthur for the matter of that, or dozens of others.
The same thing applies to other Australian hybrids from the same era. For instance, there are 22 entries for Graham Ford’s Milang series but now only Milang Shaz, Starbrite and Skies seem to surface regularly. I do hope the others are not lost.\
The situation is much the same for the huge number of hybrids that were imported from overseas. As importing is more difficult now we should preserve what we have.
So SHARE for your own sake and the sake of other growers.
The(very old) photograph shows Colonial Jubilee 150, a chimera sport of Colonial Port Arthur. A strong and easy growing plant and VERY, VERY heavy flowering.