My way of rescuing an African Violet

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I recently bought my first ever African Violet on ebay.  It arrived barerooted and broken!  What to do now!  I love plants, they are a living thing and the potential of its beauty was in my imagination.  I went to the state library and borrowed all the books they had about African Violets.  After a comfy and cosy weekend of avid study and of  perusing all the pictures of absolutely sensational examples of  African Violets I was determined to make this GROW!  This was to add  to my life a new dimension of floral beauty which I had never dreamed existed.

The first most important ingredient to successful African Violet parenting is to have the right pot and potting mix.  Fortunately today there are specialised mixes available from every nursery so I did not have to mix my own.  In fact I was able to buy a suitable mix (ideal mix has a pH of approximately 6.5) from the grocery store at which I shop.  Violets can be grown in ordinary plant pots but watering can become tricky so I opted for a self watering pot.  The advantage of these pots in connection with African Violets is that you can water from the bottom and thereby easily avoid getting water on the leaves, which African Violets really hate.  Also the soil doesn't become too wet as the plant will only draw up what it needs when it needs it.  Fabulous for a newbie like me.  It was difficult to handle my poor mangled plantlet, there were already several leaves broken off.  I took the opportunity to tidy up the shape as well and remove the yellowing older leaves that were showing signs of deterioration. It felt good to treat potting time as renovation time, inventing a new look for this vandalised bloomer.  Immediately my little violet looked far happier.  Very carefully I potted her up being careful to place the Violet in the centre of the new pot so that we had a beautifully symmetrical plant.  Also its good to occasionally give the pot a sharp tap on the bench top to settle the soil around the roots. The soil needs to fill the pot to the base of the first row of leaves.  When the main stalk is surrounded with soil it will very rapidly develop new roots alongs its surface, and this will help enormously with the rejuvenation of the plant.  I then placed my new 'baby' in a container of warm water with 2 drops of Formula 20 added (to help stabilise any roots that were disturbed)  for about a half hour and then left her draining happily.  Now to find a spot with just the right light.  I knew from my readings that African Violets are not shade lovers as commonly supposed, they need strong light.  I decided to try the recommended north east facing window ledge.  A new life has begun.

The broken and lopped off leaves lay staring at me.  I had read enough in the last few days to feel hopeful that perhaps the bad ebay experience could turn into a valuable learning opportunity.  For now I would just pop the leaves in a small container of water, in fact I used little shot glasses, just one leaf per glass.  To my surprise it was just 3 weeks before they were ALL sporting little roots.  But that is another story.....


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