How many leaves to keep after crown separation?

sapphirelydiaOctober 25, 2013

Hello! I'm new to both African violets and this blog. Recently I'm inspired by a colleague's AV that's robust and constantly in bloom under the office lights (which are on for 14+ hours a day), so I'm trying to grow some of my own. Thanks to this great forum, I've learned a lot in the past couple of days. But I can't seem to find anything relevant to this question of mine.

I've recently purchased an old AV off someone online (because some leaves on this plant have mosaic pink patches, but more on this later). When I picked up the AV it looked healthy, but the previous owner probably did little pruning: its leaves were crisscrossing from multiple crowns. Plus its original pot was definitely too big. So I decided to take the plant out and separate the crowns. After watching a YouTube video, this was not too difficult: the AV would actually let me separate its crowns naturally. I ended up with five crowns, all with portions of the original roots. I removed all suckers. The bigger crowns have 10+ leaves, while the smaller ones still have 7-8 leaves. I re-potted all of them in 2.75-inch terracotta pots, used light soil with added perlite, and waited a day before watering from the bottom. (I admit I did not put them in a clear container "greenhouse" or plastic bag: I didn't have these supplies on hand.)

My difficulty is the following: one day after, most of the outer leaves have gone limp and hang / "hug" the pot. Center leaves are fine. Is this normal? (maybe from shock or lack of moisture?) Are they likely to recover? When you separate crowns, do you keep as many leaves as possible (although they are still more sparse than ideal) to support the new plantlet, or do you remove all but the center 3-4 small leaves to let the plantlet grow out to a more perfect crown?

One last question on the variegated leaves: only mature, outer leaves showed the mosaic-like pink patches. Leaves looked healthy before crown separation. All the young leaves in the center of each separated crown are completely green. I haven't read of this kind of variegation. Has anyone seen an AV like this? I wonder if my plantlets will survive and show pink on their new leaves.

Thanks a lot to all your responses in advance!


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A couple things: it sounds like your plantlets are in too big a pot. A 2.75 pot is too big for small plantlets. Pot them into solo cups. Try not to disturb the roots too much as they have already been disturbed at the first potting.

Putting them in a dome or bag is very much a necessity. It works wonders. You should do this ASAP. Most growers just use ziplock bags or even clamshells from the grocery. You can use anything that closes tightly and lets in light. No holes!

It is normal for outer leaves to look a little droopy although this can be alleviated by bagging the plants. The plant cannot support the full complement of leaves because the roots have been compromised. (There is a balance between top growth and roots.) The plant is favoring the new, fresh growth in the center and directing its energy there rather than the older growth. Do not remove the outer leaves unless they are brown and obviously dead. Better damaged leaves than no leaves especially when you are trying to help along a struggling plant.

Variegation usually shows up as the leaves grow out. It also shows up more on older plants. If you look at pictures of variegated pants, you will often see the centers are totally green while the older leaves show color. Some babies will show no variegation whatsoever until they mature. Cooler temps. will also bring out more variegation.

I think it is a good thing that your new crowns are showing no color. Variegation is caused by a lack of chlorophyll and variegated violets are, as a result, less vigorous than their all green sisters. Having as much green as possible should help your crowns become established quicker. Then the variegation should begin to show.

It sounds like you've done everything correctly. You only need to bag these babies and I think you'll be fine. Bagging is key. I hope this helps!


    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 12:44PM
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Hi Linda,

Thank you very much for the detailed reply! Will add the ziploc bags ASAP, and find smaller containers. (I now realize the "1/3 diameter" rule applies to mature plants only.) Being hands on and making some mistakes are the only ways to learn for me! (Taking care of plants is quite new to me.)


This post was edited by sapphirelydia on Fri, Oct 25, 13 at 15:45

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 3:44PM
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Actually, the 1/3 rule applies to all sizes of violets. It is difficult sometimes to find a small enough pot for babies so solo cups are a good bet.

Don't be afraid to ask questions and make mistakes. We all began where you are now and have all sent many more violets to 'plant heaven' than we care to admit. The trick is to persevere!


    Bookmark   October 26, 2013 at 3:33AM
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