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Newly adopted noids seek guidance for their noob owner!

Posted by JonBoyNY none (My Page) on
Sat, Jun 29, 13 at 18:36



hello there...



I'm new to the forum and new to AVs, as well. I've been reading all the wonderful tips you've shared in other threads about AVs. You're real experts on these gorgeous plants, so I think I'll be in good hands. Thanks!!



I have a couple of questions on how to care for my new friends. My AVs were a gift. They're store bought, so they don't have IDs. I've had them for about 4 weeks now, and they're still alive and their leaves are strong (yay!!!!). I keep them on my desk next to my NW facing window. It's somewhat bright. In the summertime (now) half the window gets direct sunlight in the evenings, so I keep them on the side that doesn't get hit directly by the sunlight. Once the winter comes (assuming I have managed to keep them alive 'till then!!), I'm planning to move them a bit away from the window. I have a desk lamp that uses a CFL bulb. I read somewhere in a thread here that I could use that to shine on my plants for light (Is that a correct assumption I'm making?).

I've also noticed here folks suggesting that the pots should be 1/3 the size of the plants. My plants came in 4" pots, but at their widest they're about 8". Simple math tells me that perhaps they're in the wrong pots? Should I repot them into something smaller? or should I just leave them alone? 



Any tips and advice will be very much appreciated!! 

Thanks for reading! 






Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Newly adopted noids seek guidance for their noob owner!

Hi JonBoy,

Sounds like you have the knack.

If you haven't already started, ... begin to fertilize your plants a bit.

They should grow a bit to the appropriate size for your pots.

But if your plants begin to fail (i.e. lose size), smaller pots will probably be necessary.

BTW ... you should repot them about once a year.

Be sure to make any necessary pot size adjustments when repotting.


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RE: Newly adopted noids seek guidance for their noob owner!

Jon,
One reason for the smaller pot size is to prevent over-watering. If there is too much water the violet cannot take it up fast enough and the roots will rot. So, until your violets grow into their pots, be careful about watering. Also, violets bloom better when root-bound.
It sounds like you're off to a good start!

Linda


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RE: Newly adopted noids seek guidance for their noob owner!




Thanks for your responses!! yes

I've just started using a fertilizer for AVs (Schultz), every other watering. I wanted to wait for them to get acclimated to their new location before I started using a fertilizer. I do it every other watering because I don't want to over-fertilize. For watering, I basically touch the top of the soil every day and water them when it feels dry (about every 3-4 days). Does that sound normal? 

Jimmy




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RE: Newly adopted noids seek guidance for their noob owner!

Jimmy ...

Your watering routine sounds good.

Since you are fertilizing, be alert for signs of overfertilization (i.e. stunted center growth, and rusty-looking deposits in the leaves of the center growth).

Some growers choose to use a weakened fertilizer solution (ex. half the strength of what's recommended on the label).


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RE: Newly adopted noids seek guidance for their noob owner!

Jimmy,

Make sure your fertilizer's Nitrogen is not urea-based. The label will state if it is or not. Also, most AV growers fertilize "weekly, weakly".

Linda


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RE: Newly adopted noids seek guidance for their noob owner!




Oh no!! surprise

the fertilizer I use has a bit of Urea Nitrogen!! 





I went to Home Depot to find something different, but they only had Miracle Gro, which also has Urea! =/

Why is it bad? And more importantly, why do they use that for AV food if it's bad!??! [/confused]



Jimmy




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RE: Newly adopted noids seek guidance for their noob owner!

Jimmy,

They use urea nitrogen for AV's because it is a cheap form of nitrogen. It is difficult to find a non-urea fertilizer at the big box stores.
Dyna-Gro and Jack's Classic African Violet are good choices. Get the balanced formula, not the blossom booster. Dyna Gro is 7-9-5; not sure what Jack's is but the numbers will be almost equal. Try Worm's Way or E Bay. I haven't found either one to be all that expensive.
The reason you don't want to use urea nitrogen is because it can burn the roots of AV's. No roots, no plant.
I tried to search Schultz plant food to see what the urea percentage was and didn't have any luck. Does it state it on the label?

Linda


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RE: Newly adopted noids seek guidance for their noob owner!

@Jimmy: I use Schultz AV Plus exclusively, and so far have experienced no fertilizer-related problems. Under my growing conditions, I feel that 6.9% urea nitrogen is still ok-- though I wouldn't use a fertilizer with higher concentration of urea. The way I figure it, successful AV growing has been going on for decades, and urea was a part of formulations way back when, and it is only relatively recent that urea has been in the crosshairs of popular opinion. It's important to note that I do repot at least twice a year, with flushing once or twice in between repots, so that would help with any urea accumulation. And since I wick-water, I use Schultz at half the recommended dosage. Thus far, no problems. Again, this is my own experience, and others may have had different results.


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RE: Newly adopted noids seek guidance for their noob owner!

Ultra,

I wonder if there is any documentation that states at what percentage urea becomes harmful. I haven't come across anything on the web. It would be interesting reading. And I agree-the bi-annual re-potting and flushing really helps with fertilizer build-up.

Linda


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RE: Newly adopted noids seek guidance for their noob owner!


Yay, thanks for the responses! It sounds hopeful after all...

Now, what is flushing, though? 




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RE: Newly adopted noids seek guidance for their noob owner!

Jon,

Flushing is the process of running warmish water through your plant's soil until it comes out of the bottom. This rinses out the accumulated fertilizer and gunk that could be harmful to your plant. Some people do it monthly, some do it in-between re-potting, and others do it whenever they get around to it. Whenever you do it though, make sure you run the water until you get a good flow at the bottom. Hope this helps!

Linda


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RE: Newly adopted noids seek guidance for their noob owner!


Yeah! \O/ thanks for the explanation. You guys are so kind sharing your expertise!


Flushing sounds like intense watering, doesn't it!? Won't the plants be unhappy about all that water?


The way I water my plants (maybe I'm doing it wrong) is from the top. But I don't really let them sit in water. They came in this sort of double plastic pots. The inner pot has the drainage holes. So I take them out of the outer solid pot and water them over the sink. I water them until the soil feels/looks evenly moist and water is coming out of the drainage holes. Then I let them sit in the sink for about 15/20 mins and put them back in their outer pot and bring them back to the window. Obviously, I'm scared of overwatering them, so I don't let them sit in water, ever!! O.o

Flushing sounds like a way more intense version of that. Am I correct?

Now, another question (pic included)… I noticed a leaf growing on the side of one of my plants, with another tinier one next to it. Is that what is referred to as a "sucker"?--I've seen them mentioned a lot in threads, but I couldn't really grasp the concept. I understand "suckers" are meant to be removed because it takes nutrients away from the main plant. Should I wait a bit for the leaf(leaves) to get a little bigger and just cut it? Or am I supposed to take the plant out of its pot and do some kind of scary AV surgery!??! =/

Once again, thanks for all the valuable info and tips!

Jimmy


This post was edited by JonBoyNY on Thu, Jul 4, 13 at 15:31


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RE: Newly adopted noids seek guidance for their noob owner!

Flushing is, essentially, running water through your plant's soil.

So ... in the top ... out the bottom.

Doing so will wash out excess fertilizer, etc.

I usually let my suckers get a little larger before attempting to remove them. If they get large enough, you can just reach in and snap them off of the main plant.

Then, if you want, you can plant them in their own pot and voila, ... you have a new plant.

It's when suckers begin to rival the main plant, that it becomes very important to remove them.


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RE: Newly adopted noids seek guidance for their noob owner!

Gotcha, thanks for the tip, aegis500. I'll let it grow a bit more then!!




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RE: Newly adopted noids seek guidance for their noob owner!

Jon,

Your watering technique sounds fine. The flushing is an exaggerated version of watering but, since you only do it occasionally, you don't have to worry about over-watering. Also, if your soil is porous, the excess will drain away quickly. Just leave them in the sink like you usually do and then put them back in their place.
As Aegis said, most wait until the suckers get a little bigger because they are then easier to remove. Suckers are also a valuable resource for more violets. I always root mine to get more plants. I wait until they can be handled comfortably, then let my plant get a little drier than normal so the leaves are a bit more limp and less likely to snap when I remove the sucker. After the sucker is removed it can be rooted and, voila!, another beautiful violet!
The reason suckers are removed is mainly aesthetic. In the wild, violets grow many crowns. It is one form of their reproduction process. Under culture as houseplants, a single crown is desired as violets show to best advantage when grown as a single crown: they lie flat with a "spoke" of leaves and the flowers are not hidden under foliage. This is true of all except trailers where multiple crowns are desirable.

Linda


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RE: Newly adopted noids seek guidance for their noob owner!

@Linda: I read somewhere on the forum to avoid urea concentration of either above 7 or 8 or 9%, I really can't recall which :)

@Jimmy: Sometimes I place waterlogged pots on a stack of newspapers overnight.


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