Several Questions from a beginner

j0onahra3September 11, 2012

My grandma used to keep african violets all the time and they seemed healthy and fresh all the time. Mine don't have a problem yet, but I do have questions about cutting back leaves to correct the symmetry. I would ask my grandma, but I lost contact of her :( I do have several questions, so please bare with me haha.

Q1: How do I know what is symmetric and what's not? Am I only supposed to cut back leaves at the most outer layer, or can I cut back leaves in between layers/levels?

Q2: I rooted some leaves from my african violets in water. After about 5 weeks or so, they rooted. I then put the rooted leaf into 1:1 mixture of perlite and african violet mix and put them in a plastic container with no holes. Is this a good way to propagate african violets? Should I take the rooted leaves out of the container because they already have roots? I also took some rooted leaves and I'm water wicking them outside of a plastic container too, is that ok? Should I make holes on my plastic container? Is it better to just propagate african violets by cutting a leaf and putting them in the soil mix than to root by water (which one will give me faster baby leaves)? Do I need to open my plastic container often to let the soil dry out a bit?

Q3: My african violets are put near a window that is facing south west. Is this a good spot? There's a big tree nearby that's providing some shade, but I do receive full afternoon sun coming into my room. Is this good enough light?

I know these are a lot of questions, and it's fine if not all of these questions are answered. I just want to get a good sense of what is good for leaf propagation and if I'm taking care of my african violets well or not.

Thank youuuu

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For help on all of these questions, check out the podcasts at the link given below ...

Podcast 10 deals with achieving symmetry in your violets.

Some of the earlier podcasts deal with putting down leaves.

Depending on how many violets you have, and how much light they can get from the window, a south-west exposure should be good.

Here is a link that might be useful: All About African Violets podcasts

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 12:32PM
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Thanks for the podcast link, I actually did visit there before posting this. All about violets does explain symmetry, but I still dont get it. I looked at my african violet, but I just don't see what leaf to cut off. Whenever i try to take a leaf off, it just seems like there will be a big gap or it might throw off the symmetry.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 1:06PM
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Look at the center of the plant. Can you see (usually) 3 tiny leaves. That is a row of leaves. Can you find the next row that contains 3 leaves?

The next row should contain 3 leaves as well. For symmetry, just put a piece of tissue on each 3-leaf row and you can see it shaping up.

You don't have to take away leaves in order to get symmetry.

If leaves are lying flat you can pretty easily see the three leaves that are in a row--even if you have 5 rows of leaves!

If a leaf is out of line, place a straw near it to guide it to its proper place.


    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 5:42PM
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Much like when I clean a room in the house: it gets worse BEFORE it gets better :) The card stock trick from Podcast 10 (covering the leaf/leaves BEFORE you yank them) helps you imagine life without it/them.

My theory is if the leaf looks like crap it's gone; baby & yellowing leaves: gone. (those are the easy ones! :)
I figure gaps will fill in but why make a plant waste energy on damaged leaves just because it fills a gap. It will never get better! The more energy spent on the center/outward the better - the sooner there will be improvement.

Q2 - "Do I need to open my plastic container often to let the soil dry out a bit?"
If you think it's too wet - it probably is.
Too wet could spell disaster = mushy, dead leaves.
"Wicking" is tricky and I would make sure it's not keeping the rooting leaves soggy. (I don't wick leaves or root in water but as they say: do what works for you!)

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 3:22AM
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