Watering African violets

amethystfaeryJune 1, 2011

How do you all water yours? I know they are so picky about water, not too much, not too little but I don't know what *that* is. When I water decently, I am scared that the soil is too soaked and would give them root rot. When I water with less, then I worry if I even watered it enough and if THAT is gonna be an issue.

I water from the top. I don't know much about how to water from the bottom. I do not want to use wicks. Is there another way?

All this I am asking because...A few years ago ALL my african violets i had purchased from a grocery store succumbed to root rot.

Though it seemed to happen after I brought one home that had powdery mildew all over. I didn't realize what this was. But now I think it spread and killed the others?

My last remaining one died when was left at my father's house and he forgot to water it. When he did water it, he over watered it. And shortly after it died.

Fast forward to last late summer/early fall. I decided to give it another shot and bought a very large one with with pink and purple blooms. Very lovely!

Well right after I got it, eeekk it started dropping leaves and I thought omg how could it have gotten THIS that fast? I think maybe it was reacting to a new environment perhaps. I moved it to my bedroom by the heater and it recovered. Even had sooo many blooms . It was covered in them. But then it got aphids! I picked them off everyday.

Finally I bought a systemic to use on my hibiscus that also had this non stop aphids.

I used it on my African Violet too.

And within a weak it was wilted all over =(

I don;t know if the system was too strong for it and did this,(it was for shrubs and hibiscus after all) or if the extra rinsing of water you gotta do gave it root rot.

I removed it from the soil and most the roots were yellow or brown. I removed all the wilted leaves(which was pretty much all but 4) cut off all the dead roots and have had it in a water ever since till it gets more roots and repot.

I ordered some new AVs from a site. I love them. But I am very scared of the same thing happening to them.

Not knowing if it was the watering or the insecticide that killed this one.

Sorry for the looong post.

Thanks anyone :)

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Oh and the last one that died was perfectly healthy for nearly a year , but just BAM went down hill right after what I used. (that was just a couple of weeks ago.)

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 5:56PM
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    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 8:28PM
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Set the plant in a bowl, put plenty of water in the bowl, wait 20 minutes, dump out any water that was not absorbed. If the plant absorbed ALL the water, you may need to just add some more, wait 10 minutes, dump out what's left.


    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 10:23PM
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Hi, Sorry you're having so much trouble with your violets! I'm "new" to this forum. I used to have tons of violets a bunch of years ago, lost some/gave some away during a move, then had children, etc...now I'm back! :)

Anyway, there are a few things you could try.

1. Grocery store violets are risky, as are the ones from Lowes and Home Depot. Be careful that you don't bring home any with bugs or worse. Not every pest is obvious. Most of us order them through the mail and are very happy with them. Of course, you can get some nice plants anywhere! There is a small family owned nursery by my house that I got some lovely Optimara Violets from but they only had like 15 of them and took care of them. They were not cheap either. Think of it as getting a dog from the pound or a dog from a breeder.

2. It may not only be that you're 'watering wrong'. Are they in direct sunlight? I have mine in a north window and they are ecstatic. Lighting matters alot. If you have a good spot, they're tickled pink and will let you know. If you're using natural light, try and turn the plant every day or so 1/4 of a turn to get even growth.

3. What do you pot them in? Alot of people don't like Miracle Gro. I planted one of my houseplants in it and it is so hard it's like cement! The little roots will get strangled. Everyone has their own opinion on this but the potting mix you decide on should be somewhat fluffy, have a little bit of perlite in it and have good drainage. It shouldn't pack down like concrete. I lost a spider plant in Miracle Gro because only the surface got wet. The water sat on top and didn't drain.

4. Repot your plants at least annually (in the spring or summer is best, IMHO) and ensure you put somthing for drainage in the bottom of the pot. A few pebbles or broken old clay pot pieces is fine. The roots should not sit in the water.

5. People have successfully raised and watered violets from the top, the bottom, wick, self-watering pots and what have you. I used to always gently water from the top with a small watering can with a skinning spout. Use room temp or tepid water. The water here is high in PH, heavily chlorinated and hard so I let it stand a bit. (overnight) A rule of thumb is to stick your finger in the soil. If it feels damp and sticks to your finger, let it go. If it is on the verge of being dry, it won't stick to your finger. Water the plant. If you want to water from the bottom, place the plant in a tray, fill it up so that the water covers the bottom inch of the pot, leave it for 20 mins or so and then remove.

6. If all of this is too much work, you can try a self watering pot. I recently bought 10 Oyama self watering pots to try them out. It's almost idiot proof and I like them. There is an insert which you fill perlite up to the line, then your potting mix with the plant. The outer pot has lines for water. You fill the bottom of the the outer pot up to the line with your water and maybe a weak fertilizer (I loved Granny's Bloomers, can't find it anymore!) and then you set it and forget it! So far, my plants have been doing well and drinking normally without my attention for 5-7 days. The only con I have is that the pot is kinda big and takes up space.

7. Some people who have a few plants have them in pots set in a tray of pebbles and then they water the pebbles until they see the water. The plants get some more humidity that way. I never tried that.

8. Most importantly - no hot burning direct sunlight, don't splash the leaves. don't use cold water and if you water from the top, water the soil, not the crowns or the stems.

Hope that helps a bit!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 9:51AM
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Hello PumkinPie.

Sound wisdom.

Welcome to the forum.


    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 1:56PM
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One note, the watering can has a "Skinny" spout, not a skinning spout.

Thanks, Thom!

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 5:19PM
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i have had and killed so many AV's that I should have a award for he worst AV grower.....I have tried everything and I will be honest here is what works the best for me.......

keep a drain cup under each one, water from bottom and if it drinks fast give it again half as much....only fertilize once a month don't use just one type of fertilizer try different types you will see some are pronged to like one better than another..also once a month i mist mine when they are dry so the dust etc., gets off the leaves and i keep mine under lights all the time over my kitchen sink don't buy expensive ones till you know you can grow the big box store ones then you have some experience on how and what you need to do...my house is different than my moms house as far as humidity she can grow them like crazy but my house is drier and thus i spray them leaves but as i said only when they are dry.oh one more thing f you buy one and the water just sits on top of the plant just re-pot it in better soil. hope this helps.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 12:39AM
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