I just purchased a African violet from a flower shop today. The soil that it is in is rock hard. I watered when I got home now the soil feels like a really hard sponge. Is that how it should be? Here is a pic I the soil.
Hi That is an Optimara plant. We can tell by the clay colored plastic pot it comes in. Optimara uses peat for their potting medium. Many people prefer to use a combination of peat mixed with perlite and sometimes vermiculite. Optimara also tends to put their plants into 4" pots, the foliage will eventually fill and extend over the sides of the pot, as it should. But the pot is a little large for the plant right now. If you do decide to repot it, you can choose a 3" pot rather than a 4", or you can repot it back in the same pot. It is suggested to repot when on the dry side. The potting mix used by Optimara
has qualities that many people object to, such as holding water too long when wet. If you got the plant and the mix was dried and caked, it is also recommended to give it small amounts of water a little at a time, and let it absorb that, rather than all at once. There is a tendency with Optimaras that when the mix gets dried out, to add too much water. Then the mix holds the water for too long. Then the roots rot and the plant crown comes loose. If that should happen, you can restart the plant form a crown. I hope you paid a reasonable price for the plant.
I have done both with Optimaras, left them in their original pot and potting medium for many months, and also repotted right away. They usually do better when in a potting medium prepared for African Violets mixed with perlite. Joanne
I have miracle grow av potting mix. Will that work?
It's probably still a bit too peaty. I cut my av soil with 50-70% perlite. Also be aware MG contains fertilizer, so you don't want to add any extra for a while.
I find I damage the roots too much when I try to remove the plant from the original soil. These days I just chop off the crown at soil level, remove a bunch of leaves, plant the crown and wait for it to grow new roots.
Good luck :-)
If you let the soil dry a bit and you're gentle, you can work the peat off of the roots without much damage.
Cut your MG with perlite and/or vermiculite. If using all three go with a 1-1-1. If just using one, preferably perlite, I would go 1-1.