14 July 2016

Violet Farm

My grandma was an expert at growing violets. I wish I had a photo of all the lush plants she kept on her windowsills. Grandma took cuttings and seemingly propagated violets at will, and they grew profusely in the slivers of light that came in to her otherwise dark house.

I've grown violets from time to time over the years but hadn't put much thought into it until our daughter Bailey started tinkering with them. She had immediate success with her plants, some of which even made the move with her from Indiana to Texas. 

I purchased a white violet at that time, and Bailey subsequently gave me a cutting from her lavender violet. Neither plant bloomed much until I moved them to a north-ish facing window, and since then they have flowered almost continuously. I recently purchased a third small violet for $2 on clearance at the grocery store, and the three plants have been doing very well. In fact, I seem to be having much more consistent success with my violets than my succulents which are supposed to be nearly maintenance-free!. Go figure!

When Bailey came home for a visit last week, I asked her to help me divide the largest plant since I'd never done that before. Since she had done it once, that made her an expert in my mind! :)

First she took the plant out of the pot and shook away most of the dirt. By separating the leaves with her fingers, it was easy to see where new "crowns" were growing. She sliced off the new crowns with a sharp knife.

Using African violet potting mix, we placed the new plants in small plastic containers (the ones they come in at the grocery store) with holes in the bottom. These make great little "nursery" containers for violets which must be watered from the bottom.

Once the new plants were potted, I placed the plastic pots inside small terra cotta pots with saucers to catch any drips. I read that violets should not be planted directly into terra cotta pots because they can promote mold and other issues. When a violet grows too large for its pot, look for a slightly larger plastic pot with holes at the bottom and a saucer to catch leaks.

Before situating the plants in the window, I gave them a good watering by placing them in bowls of water (with liquid violet food mixed in) for about 30 minutes. This allows the water to be soaked up from the bottom into the soil.

Now instead of three plants, I have five! I think that surely constitutes a violet farm. :)

After a few days, all of the plants are still alive and seem to be doing well. One of the new babies has even sprouted a tiny leaf in the center. Squint and you might be able to see it. :)

I wish I had a better spot for the violets than the bench in the dining room bay window, but they seem to be blooming well there so they shall not be moved.

The down side is that the violets are now are cramping Tinsel's style just a little bit, as that bench is one of her prime outdoor viewing seats. As you can see, she is not too pleased!

Sorry, Tinsel, you'll have to move over! Make room for the violet farm!

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