Having trouble

lemonsforchams(6b)May 24, 2009

I just don't understand it!!! I have grown everything, from sensitive orchids and carnivores to citrus and ficus trees, yet I am killing violets by the half dozen!!!

I started with ebay purchases, most came looking a bit ''tired'', but nothing that implied they were one death's door. A couple came in in perfect shape as well.

If you have read my intro and shout out post, you will note that the frist time I repotted some violets, I used bone meal and gave the plants a soak in disinfectant that I used in the past for other plant to elminate pest.

I think I may have overwatered the mix initially and then we had several cloudy and rainy days that kept the growing environment overly cool.

Convinced it was either the bone meal or disinfectant soak, as well as the cool days not allowing for the mix to dry out, I repotted again in a mix that had almost no bone meal, but again it went sour quickly, even with minimal watering. They days continued to be cool and dreary and I was begging for some nice, window light to light my struggling plants and warm things up.

I finally moved back to my own place and had some more violets that were new and had not been repotted at all.

I did not soak them, did not use bone meal. I wicked them, and cut the soil mix with ample perlite and vermiculite. I forgot to mention the use of dolomite lime in the mix as well and this was checked pefore and after with a Ph soil test kit until the final mix was a Ph of 6.5-6.8. I set them up in the basement, where the temps stayed in the mid 60sF for a week or so, but now approaches the mid to high 70's during the day. Still they declined and the ones that were already struggling were repotted again and wicked and all the rotten roots and basal portions were removed, but they still were getting no better.

In desperation, I moved them upstairs, to a warmer room, nearly 80F during the day and never less then 70F at night, and still, I lost a few more and the hangers on looked no better and were slowly losing leaves. I should also mention they were being kept in a sterlite container at this point to keep up humidity and facilitate recovery and new root growth.This is a lot of repotting and rerepotting and moving around for the plants, I know, but they never seemed to be improving and after a couple weeks with continued decline, I felt compelled each time to try and improve/ modify some element of the growing environment.

Today I had enough. I removed them all from thier pots, examined the bases to find no root growth and I trimmed away all the leaves, but the center few and planted them in a plug tray for starting seeds. In the same tray, I have successfully rooted leaves from all of the failing plants and the leaves were subjected to the same soil mix (sans bone meal) cool days, and moving about, but they rooted and did not rot. Also, the mix stays fresh in the tray, but turns ''sour'' looking and looks aged within days in the pots. So now I wait and see if they root again under the conditions in the leaf rooting tray.

Now I have also got a few streps and petrocosmeas in the same time span and they are doing just great! Now I haven't repotted any of them, b/c I am terrified to do so without knowing why I am failing miserably with my violets.

I keep the pets and streps at around 60F-65F at night and about 68F-74F during the day. I use Optimara fertilizer, half and half of the violet feed and houseplant feed to equal one full dose, per the instruction on the container. They are on wicks and the wicks are removed from the water until the soil looks dry and the pots get light from lack of water, but are returned before the plants wilt or show any distress. In this way, they are fed each watering as well. I am using the same lights as for the violets. They are T8s, one 2 bulb fixture per shelf, on for 12 hrs daily, with one 32watt Sylvania 6500k and one Sylvania 3000k bulb, kept 10'' above the foliage for the pets, but closer to the strpes, b/c of thier height.

Anyone have any suggestions for what is going wrong with my violet plants, while I am rooting leaves just fine and my pets and streps are happy?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You seem to be doing everything correctly with the exception of fertilizing. I grow all my AV's on wicks and use 1/2 the recommended amount of fertilizer. Other than that what are you using for wicking. I use 4 ply acrylic worsted weight yarn. One piece for each standard and split it into 2 plies for minis and semis. You also said nothing about the size and type pots u are using. I keep all my stds in plastic squat pots and repot when the crown of the plant is more than 3x's the size of the pot. I keep all my minis and semis in 3oz. plastic Solo cups. If you are interested I have a couple sheets on the care and rejuvination of AV's that I passed out when I went out to lecture. If you are interested, email me and I will send them to you.
Fred in NJ

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 4:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for your reply. I have not used ANY fertilizers on the violets, since they have no roots and all were potted in 2 3/4'' squat pots. Most were standard or semi-minis and I used 2 ply acrylic yarn for wicking the pots and I used one wick per pot. Also, the fertilizer is mixed to reomended strength, but I add that to water in the wicking tary, so it is diluted to about 1/2 strength, when all is said and done. I am beginning to believe either the peat moss available to me is sub par, as is the case with the available potting mixes out now or the violets themselves were looking ''tired'', b/c they were and shipping and repotting, cloudy days, cool days, and disinfectant dunks might have been too much, but that doesn't explain the decline of the couple that I recieved in optimum position.

The peat works fine for my carnivores and is your standard sphagnum peat moss, not sedge peat or peat with additives.
I say it might be suspect, b/c it used to be a bag of Miracle grow potting mix or Farfard mix was light and fluffy, suitable for many houseplants as is and certainly ideal for any plant with additional perlite and vermiculite added. Now it is compacted, black, and most unsuitable for anything. If it is amended and used, it breaks down quickly and contributes to root death....it just isn't the same as it was 10 yrs ago, IMO.

Thanks Again.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 7:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi there,

Like Fred said, it looks like you're doing pretty much everything right. My guess is that your hunch is right and the potting medium you are using might be the problem. If you are into mixing your own (which I recommend, since you know EXACTLY what's in it!) here is a recipe that I use to mix my own AV soilless mix:

4 qt. Canadian sphagnum peat moss
4 qt. horticultural vermiculite
4 qt. perlite
1/2 cup dried manure
2 tbsp dolomitic lime (non-hydrated), powdered not pelleted
2 tbsp superphosphate (20% P2O5), powdered not pelleted
2 cups horticultural charcoal

This recipe makes approximately 13 quarts. Of course, check the pH of the soil mix and adjust with lime as needed, but I find that this recipe is pretty consistent. Usually I buy both the MiracleGro sphagnum peat moss and MiracleGro perlite that comes in the 8 qt. bags, and the vermiculite and horticultural charcoal I get is made by Hoffman. The superphosphate and dolomitic lime I buy is pelleted and made by Espoma - I use a mortar and pestle to grind them up into powder to make a more even mix.

If you don't want to go through all the effort, I would recommend adding some horticultural charcoal to your existing mix. It can really help loosen it up!

Good luck with your violet ventures and I hope things improve for you!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 7:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Christine, I like your mix I did want to add charcoal at first, but was unable to find it in bulk sources. I want you also to be aware that the only perlite I can find by miracle grow IS enriched with Miracle grow fertilizer that contains urea nitrogen. I am not suggesting you not use it, b/c your results must certainly be better than mine, but that is why I am not using it. At any rate, I guess I am doing everything I can and no one has pointed out anything fatally wrong with my methods, so I can wait and hope that future efforts are successful and I have future efforts on the way already!!! lol.....the addiction is strong, in spite of the odds against me at the moment.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 12:35AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I would also like to add a note or two. Me, who can grow violets just fine, but have a lot of trouble with streps and kill nearly every orchid I ever had.

When you get plants thru the mail they have been "well traveled". Box travel is not kind. also the plants are used to growing in different home/greenhouse conditions. I let my plants set a couple weeks to adjust to my home and rest from their travel. Then I repot into my potting mix with some marathon to kill any root mealies or such.
Kept in a different room than my other plants for a month or two until it looks like they are pest free.

If your roots were rotted, they were possibly too wet, too long. It doesn't take long for violets to die from wet roots. Violets like damp soil, not wet soil. Drier is better. More perlite never hurts. I use any av soil at lowes, home depot, walmart and add more perlite and a little more vermiculite to the mix. I used to just add the perlite but I read where several sources said vermiculite holds fertilizers and minerals so I started adding it again. For my PH issues, I add a little baking soda to my water with the diluted fertilizer...but I don't fertilize every time I water, some dry out quickly and other plants not so quickly. But everyone who grows them uses a little different mix, adds different things, like lime, etc. It does sound if your mix is sour, it is not good. Maybe next time you think the plant's soil is too wet, you can set the pot on newspaper or paper towels to draw out excess moisture. If it continues to be too wet, add more perlite to the mix. Remember DAMP, not wet.

Keep trying. I keep trying with streps and orchids. One day I'll get it right. Take care. tish

    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 12:47AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am atking everything in and want to add that the first group of violets I repotted had 'rested' for about 2 weeks or maybe 3, before being repotted, but I agree that plants need some time to adapt.
I also am beginning to think that perhaps peat from different regions, harvested at different depths, and of different ages, might have different densitys and hold more less water depending on these factors. I am going to cut my peat to 1/2 part to 1 part each of perlite and vermiculite and see if this helps. The peat is not providing anything, but a place for nutrients and water to be available to the plants roots and of course anchorage. It in an of itself is actually not ideal, it's Ph is too low and it hold a lot of moisture, therfore, one should be able to lower or raise the amount they use with little consequence.

I think, when I repot my streps and pets, I will add some expanded clay granules. This is called turface and is nuetral in Ph and resembles tiny, tan rocks. It is light and small, a good aerator and should help cut the acidity of the mix, buffer the Ph once adjusted, and be similar to the ''gritty'' mix they must grow in amongst the rocks and stream banks in nature. Maybe it will hold promise for the violets as well. It is sold as aquatic plant soil at either lowes or home depot.

I am still trying to find a target Ph for the streps and pets. before repotting. I can only find that they like additional lime, egg shell oyster grit...etc, but no set number to strive for in regards to deal Ph.

I am crossing my fingers that the violets in the rooting tray get roots down and I can steer this cart back onto the right trail. Until the violets are happy, I am scared to repot the pets and streps, as these are more finicky, I think. My first bloom has begun to open on my strep 'rasberry network''....I am in love witht this plant and can't wait to see it!

I will keep everyone posted and enjoy reading your suggestions and comments.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 4:18AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


Ah. I just checked the bag and the MiracleGro perlite I have is enriched with MiracleGro plant food. Regardless of that, my plants seem to be doing stellar!

If drainage is a huge issue you might want to pick up some Oyama self-watering planters. They're a bit pricey but they are WONDERFUL! My violets love them.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 10:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I was considering them or texas watering in general, but my violet group seemed to be in favor of wicking and these are some long term growers, who have tried all of the methods at one time or another. I am also embracing the idea that each person has to tailor thier mix and watering method, lighting, temps, and so on to thier own habits and most importantly thier plant's needs. I think, when I get some plantlets from my leaves, I will try different things on different plants. I really don't have room for multiples, so I don't feel guilty experimenting on the excess for the sake of finding an ideal growing method for my situation here.

I am glad your violets are doing well, even with the miracle grow in the perlite. It goes to show that sometimes, the less you are aware of the better. Now you don't have to fertilize for a while after you repot:^)

    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 10:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am pleased to say that the plants that I put down with the leaves have become turgid again and are showing signs of growth. There isn't any doubt that they are on the way to being healthy again. I am also pleased that I have a number of rooted leaves, but it has also been about 3 months since I put them down and I haven't seen a hint of any ''mouse ears''. Would adding a diluted amount of urea free fertilizer with a dropper help matters any?

I am fairly sure that my next repotting effort will be using the hybrid technique of wicking with a layer of perlite in the bottom of the pot as you would for Texas watering. I think that is more fool proof and after reading ''Growing for Show'', I think this makes the most sense for my growing situation.

All of my petrocosmeas and streps continue to do well and one strep is in bloom....my most sought after variety and the only one I really cared if I owned. It is ''Rasberry Network''. I just love its flowers and the fuschia color that is netted over the blossoms.

I enjoy reading all of the post here and appreciate the wisdom that you so freely share. I think I feel more like part of a ''club'' here than at my AV club...lol

Happy Growing

    Bookmark   June 2, 2009 at 12:36AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I wouldn't fertilize the leaves. There's a less risky way to "force" them: cut the top third off of the leaf to make sure that it stops growing and will devote all of its energy to producing plantlets.

I'm so glad to hear things are going better for you!!! :D The frustration is almost worth it after seeing everything go right, isn't it? haha


    Bookmark   June 2, 2009 at 6:08AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


Thank you for your reply. I did cut many of the leaves in half at the time I put them down for rooting. Should I cut them down further?

It is worth it and when I get to see my Gher's witch doctor with a full rosette and in bloom again, and my Lyon's spectacular, I think I will get a bottle of champagne to celebrate....lol I really want to see my Wrangler's gaudy lady with a nice full rosette of foliage too.....I just love the leaves and colors of the foliage on that one. I will just keep being patient and let them come around at thier own pace.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2009 at 3:19PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Unknown and new order from pjs violets
Walking around local nursery for supplies and I couldn't...
wanted: i may be jumping the gun...spring rr
I just cannot wait any longer! Since RRs take a while...
Looking for the post that had using CFL?
I thought it was in this section maybe it wasn't but...
backyard greenhouse advice welcome
Hello All, Does anyone have knowledge of backyard greenhouses?...
When will the leaf cuttings send out new growth?
I potted up 4 leafs in 4 small pots. Actually they...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™