The issues of an AV living in a college dorm

llteaniebeanie(3)November 29, 2007

Hello. I'm new, not only to African Violets, but to house plants in general. I'm in a college dorm in Northern Maine. At the beginning of the semester, I bought three near-death plants at Walmart in an attempt to perk up my dorm. All three have thrived on my cold-but-sunny window sill.

A couple weeks ago, my mom split some of her African Violets, and having had some luck with my plants, I jumped on the opportunity when she offered me one of the newly repotted violets.

Unfortunately, my violet has done anything but thrive. It looks severely depressed, actually, with several issues. The leaves have lost their shape a bit, with some wilting. Having been warned repeatedly about over-watering, I assumed the problem was the cold air on the window sill, so it's been relocated to my desk where it's hopefully warmer, but it hasn't perked up any.

I also have a problem with something that looks like fruit flies, but only with the violet and not my other plants. I think they may be fungus gnats. Could these be the cause for my violet's depression? If so, how do I get rid of them?

I appreciate anything you can tell my about caring for my new plant, but please keep in mind, I'm in a dorm and my money and resources are limited.

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irina_co(z5 CO)

Hello llteaniebeanie

I think your new violets have some relocation blues.

Usually the transplanting is a shock so you need to baby them a bit - and high humidity is an answer. Put them in a transparent plastic bag or cover them with an angel cake lid. The soil should be barely moist - but the air should be humid - they are transplanted- and they do not have enough roots yet to absorb the water they loose through the leaves.
Fungus gnats are mostly nuisance. Your plants will perk up - and you can address it afterwards.

Good luck


    Bookmark   November 29, 2007 at 1:45PM
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As far as humidity, should I cover the plant entirely, or do I need to allow for airflow? (Thanks, by the way. I think I can handle that method.)

I don't need to worry about the gnats, then? I read somewhere that the larvae might eat new roots, and where my violet is trying to take root, that worried me. If they won't hurt the plant, then I suppose I can deal with them later.

Should I be surprised that even though it's just taking root, and having so many other issues besides, the foolish thing is actually flowering? It's brand new and fairly small, but it has two flowers and half a dozen buds. This is since it's been repotted, mind.

Thanks for the help!

    Bookmark   November 29, 2007 at 4:26PM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

LL -

You can open it just a bit, so the condensate is not accumulating in the baggie.

Gnats mostly eat the rotting material. Even if they can sometimes chew on the young roots - they cannot kill the plant. I think Nancy advised to drench the pots with a solution of Clorax to get rid of them - search the chat and find the proportion - but in any case I would wait until the plant will be looking better.


    Bookmark   November 29, 2007 at 5:39PM
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About that cold but sunny window sill. AV's as a rule do not like direct sunlight. If you have a florescent light in your room, put your violets there. Combined with the humid plastic bag, your little guys will eventually recover. Remember that they do everything in slow motion, botanically speaking.
Good luck and be patient.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2007 at 6:38PM
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I. - Thanks for the tip. I have my AV covered now, I'll let you know how that goes.
But Clorax? Like, the bleach?

Krys - I don't own a fluorescent light, the closest i could get to that is a black light. I don't suppose they'd like that? ;) Right now, it's living under my desk lamp, but that's more of a creative attempt at keeping it warm than actually giving it light. I think the over head light in my dorm is fluorescent, but I don't think it's bright enough to be of much real help.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2007 at 12:16AM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

LL -

you can use your table lamp if you get yourself a compact fluorescent - these spiral thingies that have the info on the box - 27 wt gives as much light as 100 wt incandescent - get yourself a big one - like real 100 wt, not 27wt - and you can screw it in your lamp and will be both for warmth and light.

Black light fixture - you can you replace the black light tube with the cool white.

Good luck


    Bookmark   December 3, 2007 at 2:08PM
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Hi, Beanie,

Someone mentioned in another thread that they put waxed paper on the window glass to diffuse the sunlight. I have some opaque-ish shelf liner that I have used for that purpose also. But I think your best and most consistent light would be the desk light with the fluorescent bulb, as Irina suggested. If you get the violet 'bug' you'll need that windowsill.

I'm in Biddeford, cold and snowy here too.....


    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 11:45AM
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