not a newbie, but...

mbrasseau(7)June 9, 2012

I'm not a newbie; I grow alot outside in the ground and in containers (organically)... stuff to eat... but I'm not real successful with the 'pretty stuff'

ok, roses, I can grow really pretty roses... but thats it

So I'm more of an adolescent than a newbie

So for many years I've tried to grow African Violets, and they do nicely, all green, strong, and happy, but they never bloom. I have even tried to 'cheat' and buy them already in bloom. The blooms just fall off and it lives on as just a ordinary plant.

So as I was reading and I see a few mistakes I've been making... pot is too big, and light is too diffused. (light is coming from skylight in my bathroom)


I will repot 'Viola' back into her original pot, but it seems kind of counter-practice to me. At the last repotting she was a bit root-bound, so if we do not allow the roots to grow into a new larger container, what do we do with all this extra root... wouldn't THAT cause root-rot? And if we are keeping the plant in the same pot, what exactly are we repotting with, if there is no expanding room to add additional fresher material? Also, how do you provide more light, but not more heat? In my mind they go hand-in-hand

yes, an argumentative (questioning), confused adolescent...


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stonesriver(6B Tennessee)

Welcome, Mona. Hope we can help you.

I'll do my best so, here goes:

1. Many times AVs don't rebloom because they are allowed to go dry just about the time the buds are developing. This halts bud development. That's why so many wick/reservoir water.

2. When putting back into same pot, you root prune. Take off about 1/3 of the root mass.

3. Using fluorescent lights fixes the heat problem. Or a grow-light in a lamp.

4. Use a well-balanced fertilizer like Dyna Gro "Grow" formula; not Foliage Pro.

Viola should be in a pot no larger than 1/3 her width. I have some 32" plants in 4" pots. They bloom all the time. I just root prune and put back in same pot.

What medium are you using? AV soil or a soil-less mix?

BTW, couldn't access the photo. I did find your PhotoBucket album by looking for member "mbrasseau" and Viola is lovely.

Is your dog a Lab or a long-tailed German Shorthaired Pointer?

Happy Growing!


    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 11:18PM
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The "allowing to go dry" makes sense, as that is my watering practice, to avoid root rot, but never completely dry. I wonder where I could find a pic of wicking; I keep reading the descriptions, but cant really picture in my head how it works

For potting, because I do most everything organically, my mix is 1 part sifted yard dirt, 1 part spagnum peat, 1 part homemade compost (the bottom finished stuff at the worm casting level), .5 part sand (actually I use as much sand as 'feels right')... thats a base, then from there I usually add other stuff I think it will need (vermiculite, perlite, gypsum, etc)... but I potted this same time as my aloe and didnt have other 'stuff' available.

I was on this site alot back in 2000-2003... then I come back and some guy named 'Al', and his 'mix', are all the rave. LOL But I really like what I've been reading... he explains everything so thoroughly... I plan to try his mix in a few things, or at least incorporate the logic

For lighting, seems that people with east or west windows are getting success with the 'light, sans heat'... I am in a mobile home with all the good windows north/south facing... a north one may work, but it would get VERY direct light for about 2 hours in the afternoon (3-5pm) dont know if that would be too much. I will be setting up a grow light soon on my kitchen cabinet for herbs, so I might just let Viola join it with them

For fertilizing, while I am an avid organist (if thats even a word) I do use chemicals occasionally (as a medicine of sorts) for backup. The most fertilizing I've done so far was to tuck in a few leaf masses (torn apart) from the compost bin that hadnt finished completely and add a couple worms to add more castings. But I dont think the worms survived

I was going to try compost tea... my roomies fish, and we will be keeping the 'extras' to make fish emulsion... but I think I will start with Dyna Gro since it seems everyone swears by it. When I can get her to her 'sweet spot' and blooming, and I know what 'right' looks like, I may experiment with the rest.

I did put her back into her original pot that I bought her in... it may still be too large. It looks more like 2/3 diameter instead of 1/3... will this suffice or should I get a smaller pot?


The grand-dog is a Great Dane, her name is Winnie. In that photo I thought she looked like the flying pet on Never Ending Story :)

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 12:25PM
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figured out the photos...

She is now back in her original pot; I drilled drainholes in the sides as it had none

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 2:20PM
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It's all about the light.

You need to provide more intense light for your plants.

Florescent light is necessary, which is easier today with the florescent replacement bulbs for your former incandescent lamps.

More light will solve your blooming issues.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 5:43PM
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stonesriver(6B Tennessee)

If you do a "What is wick watering" search you come up with 268 threads. Try the one below.

Not sure the holes are big enough but time will tell.


Here is a link that might be useful: Wick Watering

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 7:18PM
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Hi Mona:

'Viola' is lovely and has a lot of potential! However, I believe her pot is still too big. Until you get used to picking out the proper size pots for AVs, it may be helpful to literally measure the plant and choose one that is 1/3 the diameter.

Having fairly shallow root systems, AVs do better in squatty pots, sometimes referred to as "azalea pots." Most of my standard size AVs (not miniatures or semiminiatures) are in 3" or 4" diameter pots, and they have to be at least 12" around for me to put them in the 4" size.

When they are potbound (provided they have adequate light) they are more likely to direct their energy into blooming. If you are interested, check out the website for the "African Violet Society of America." You will find lots of detailed information there. Good luck and let us know if she blooms!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 9:42PM
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Thanks for all the help!

I have purchased a grow light... she seems to like it. I have never seen the leaves grow this fast!

I measured her diameter (6 inches). The pot is 4 inches... so seriously? I would need a 2 inch pot? (I will do it, just seems so weird)

Also, The Sweetheart, has a wonderful blooming AV on his windowsill, and says he waters from below, so I've rigged up something like what he has. (with a watering tray) The water 'wicks' up into the soil nicely... I water about 1/8 c (dry measurer) of water each day, to just above the holes.. the soil seems moist, but light... HOWEVER, it seems a tiny bit of mold is developing on top of the soil... Is this because the pot is too big and holding more moisture than the plant is using? or is this normal? (actually its scary, my plants have never done that before)

Another note: I used my own organic soil mix... and it seems that some leaches out into the watering tray... assuming this is a type of 'compost tea', I've been using it to water the seedlings... they seem to love it.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 9:44PM
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korina(9b, Sunset 17)

Mona, m3rma1d has posted a wonderful video about wick watering AVs. You might want to subscribe, I did! :-)

Here is a link that might be useful: Wick watering

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 4:17PM
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Well, its been several months since I posted... and I just want to thank everyone for their wonderful advice.

Viola is budding! :D

I put her under a grow light as suggested, and she loves it.

All of the pots I had were too big, so I ended up having to put her in a 2 inch yogurt cup. She loves that too!

As for watering/fertilizing, I've only been using the compost tea that I use for my indoor herbs. She seems to like it as well.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 3:29AM
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Looking good Mona!

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 10:52AM
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Late to the convo but congrats!!! I learned a lot through your experience~ How lucky to have blooms!!!

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 11:11PM
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Your hard work and willingness to follow strange directions has paid off! Congratulations. The Plant looks much healthier and loaded w buds. Success!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 8:54AM
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It even had some suckers, which I attempted to remove, and am trying to root, but not sure if I did it correctly. A few other leaves came off in the process, so I will try to propagate those as well. I will post another pic when the blooms begin to open.

Just to note, when I first posted, her diameter was 6-7 inches... she is now 10 inches across :)

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 9:14PM
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That's an awesome transformation, I thought the second photo was another AV at first!


    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 2:20PM
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    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 10:48PM
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Thank you for the follow up! Its so good to see what you chose to do and what the result was. Good job, she is quite lovely.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 9:08AM
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Wow that is a success story. Love the pictures showing progress over time.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 7:29PM
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Greg(z8, San Antonio)

Wow! What a transformation! Congratulations on your success. That is a beautiful violet.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 9:53PM
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