Hello! Just got my first!

armygrdnr(8)October 5, 2012

Hi everyone!

Just got my first African Violet a few weeks ago at a Lowe's for $3. I bought the African Violet potting mix (miracle-gro type) and got that fancy self watering terracotta pot and thought I was good to go! Now I realize that my pot is probably too large, the self-watering feature is probably keeping my potting mix completely soaked all the time and my AV is starting to look kinda droopy. After doing some research I've narrowed down the causes of the leaves drooping and curling down to either transplant shock or too much of a fluctuating temp in the room it is in.

Here's my AV right after I got it and potted it. Since then the flowers are still standing straight up but all the leaves have laid down and are curling down. I'll try and post a recent pic later.

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armygrdnr, I think you hit the nail on the head with transplant shock. For it to be temperature fluctuation, you're talking about a 30'F swing which isn't normal in most homes.

The size of the pot actually looks about right once you account for the leaves after they've fallen flat, however, I wouldn't go any larger with the pots beyond this (unless it's a large violet, which I suspect it's not).

To help adjust after transplanting, you'll want to make sure the soil is moist, but not dripping/soggy wet (if there's a way to let the water out of the pot, you'll want to do so) until the plant has established itself. Then I might stick it in a place with very high humidity (or put it under a dome/gallon-sized ziplock) for about 2-4 weeks to let the roots re-establish themselves. After that I'd crack the dome/open the bag and let the plant adjust for another week. Once the hardening-off phase is done, it should be good to go.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 9:12PM
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Personally I find the big box store lowes & HD swc AV pots to be a little to deep, they do tend to take away from the fuller grown plant over all there not to bad and not at all an eye sore.

There are better looking SWC in the same price range and I have seem worse SWC's What I do is hide the same deeper/ bigger one behind the smaller more properly sized SWC's. Watering should still be just as easy as any.

Your SWC easy to lift out the water remaining line on the inner can be felt or seen I tend to keep my same sized SWC just under 1/2 inch at highest of inner pot and preference to check more often to add water/fert or not. I have let this SWC get 1/2 inch under the inner liner pot before leaves tell me to water.

I tend to think plants at a sink is a disaster waiting to happen If I may explain.

I love to cook/bake and prepare foods a clean and ready kitchen of dishes, pots, pans etc. are all a part of my kitchen so my kitchen areas including sink have no room for any plant.

I say this cause the humidity and weather in the cooking/cleaning areas of some kitchens can and does change very quickly at times.Also meaning I can cook up a storm.
Please be aware and observant for the effects of these sometimes sudden weather changes on your AV's and other plants at your sink area.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 9:24PM
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Dear armygrdnr,

This is just the "annoying novice" on duty here, as many will be able to testify. I myself am still learning and currently driving the experts insane with questions.

That being said, here are my 2 cents, as little as they are worth. I started this AV thing this year in March and have been through what you are going now.

Some problems you are probably experiencing as a beginer:

1. First, your plant is probably starting to show the transplant shock. Now, when you say a few weeks...what does "few" mean? Two or 7?
2. The pot is almost surely too large.
3. You need to learn exactly what the experts mean when they say "keep the soil moist but not soggy/wet". You need to touch soil that is "moist yet not wet" so you can experience how it actually feels like. You can do this at your local nursery.
A few months ago I THOUGHT I understood what that meant, but later it turned out I didn't. This is crucial - otherwise you will not be able to avoid a root rot episode, just like I wasn't.

Water from the bottom a few times and wait until the top soil feels "clearly no longer dry"...just so you will be able to recognize what "moist" means and how your soil needs to feel when when you water from the top.
When you do so, you absolutely need to stop when you see the first drops of water coming out at the other end.
Ar first, I continued to soak the plant even after seeing the first drops coming out...thinking that I needed to make sure ALL soil was evenly covered. AV pots are usually so small that a little water will quickly spread over the entire surface of the potting mix and will sink in evenly anyway.

I have added my modest 2 cents because sometimes the experts are so good that they take for granted skills that became second nature to them long time ago; in other words they no longer realize how BAD us beginner can actually be. :-))

People here though will be able to give you much more in depth advice. Some of them are downright fantastic and their stands can make you green with envy. It won't get its way though (the envy, I mean) because these folks are so sweet and helpful you won't be able to get your jealousy going. :-)

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 9:26PM
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Taxonimist3, thanks so much for your input and I am glad that you agree with transplant shock because I can affect that more easily than I could the temp fluctuation in my house. I didn't think a 10 degree fluctuation throughout the day was so uncommon as to affect it that way. I'll dump the water from the bottom and follow your instructions to help bring it back. Would it also help to put something flat around top for the leaves to lay on? I've noticed that they have started to droop down the edge of the pot. Thanks again!


    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 9:27PM
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BTW, I am absolutely crazy about that color.
There is nothing like a deep blue, classic AV. :-)
Your plant is beautiful.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 9:34PM
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Agh! So many posts at once, while replying to the first two more appeared,LOL. As for the sink thing, no plants are at the sink. I have a shelf unit upstairs that I keep it at now. A few weeks means about 3 weeks and I agree that the pot is probably too large. IIRC it is a 6 inch pot and about 5-6 inches deep on the inside. I have a 4 inch plastic pot in my garage that I could put it in but would this worsen the transplant shock? Thanks again everyone!

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 9:40PM
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I would love to read an answer to your last question as I never understood whether it is remotely OK to do several re-pottings close together.

I do know it's best to give it as little handling as possible, especially when it adjusts to a new environment, but when you gotta do something important to save the plant from something, I suppose worse things could happen than yet another re-potting.

I am looking forward to hearing what the experts have to say.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 10:01PM
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nyxx(z7 Virginia)

On the subject of how wet is two wet. Annie on one of her All About African Violets podcast described the moistness as "a wrung out sponge".

I personally have noticed while repotting and prewetting the potting medium that if I take a handful of medium and squeeze it no water is expelled and dripping out of my fist. When I open my hand the soil holds its shape but when I touch it it falls apart into the loose medium again. This is with a 1:1:1 mix of peat moss course perlite and course vermiculite. If I squeeze it REALLY hard I might get a few drops of water out. I use about 1 cup of water per quart of medium. No I don't actually measure it everytime. I did one day when I had waaaay to much time on my hands. After a day or so in the pot the soil might feel slightly wetter but not much. This might give you a "feel" for what moist is.

Hope it helps.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 11:35PM
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Ideally you're using azalea pots that are equal in depth and top diameter, however, I've gotten away with using standard pots and self-watering pots where the depth is 1/2 to 1 inch deeper.

Usually I prefer not to go larger than a 4 inch pot, however, I've seen some violets grown in 8 or 9 inch pots (talk about massive!). As long as the plant fits the 1/3rd rule, you're generally ok. (1/3rd rule is where the pot is 1/3rd the size of the overall plant diameter). You're probably at 1/2 there, which is fine with an actively growing plant which should fill it out within a month or 2.

The thing to remember is that violets will not flower unless they are slightly root-bound (hence why they're kept in such smaller pots). If you feel it's truly over-potted you'll want to give mrlikeu2's suggestion of a pot within a pot a go.

Also regarding your potting mix, you will definitely want to add extra perlite to it (1:1). The AV pre-mixes out there tend to hold to much water and if you're in a self-watering pot it'll definitely hold too much water. (you may also want to consider using a Texas-style potting method with a bottom layer of perlite or gravel).

About the leaf support, if the leaves are getting scratched or damaged on the petiols, you can put something under them to support them, however, the leaves should lay flat like the link at then of this post. So it'd be ok to let the leaves fall a little.

I know this is a lot of information, but in the end, you'll have to use trial and error to see what makes the plant happiest (not all violets are created equal and grow with the same growing conditions). Also, you may want to try putting a leaf down "back-up" the plant if you're concerned you're going to lose it.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 12:10AM
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Ok everyone, I have potted down to a 4 inch plastic pot that is also shallow. I also noticed that the leaves were yellowing and some of the flowers were turning brown and drying up and dying. From what I researched on the net it seems like it might be getting too much sunlight in my East facing window, I would be grateful if someone might be able to confirm that? Also, should I go ahead and bag it for a couple of weeks or is it too late for that? Thanks everyone again!


    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 9:42AM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

Joe - good luck with your hobby!

Would be better if you post the pic - it should be shrunk to small - something like 60 kb if you post it on Gallery here.

Blossoms do not last forever - the plant is in a shock because it is transported from greenhouse to Lowes to your house, transplanted, the conditions are different etc. So the flowers age even faster. It is OK, new ones will come.

Hard to say - but probably you are correct - AV doesn't like strong direct light - if your east window keeps it under direct light pass 10 am, you can put a shear curtain between violet and window or attach something to the glass like a sheet of paper.


    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 12:24PM
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