Monday, June 6, 2011

African Violets

My mother-in-law loved African violets. Over the years she propagated hundreds, if not thousands, of plants. She had grow lights above rows and rows of pots. The flowers glowed in various shades of pink, purple, lavender, and blue. Some plants had white flowers with purple ruffled edges, some had double pedaled blossoms. I was surprised at the variety of possibilities that existed. She insisted on keeping the plants small, though I have seen plants that bloomed in twelve-inch pots, diligently removing any stray outcroppings and paring the stems to keep them contained. She was a faithful member of the African violet Society where she lived in Arizona, attending their shows and displaying her plants. Raising the violets was less of a hobby than a passion.

I can’t say that I am as enamored of African Violets as she was, but I have come to appreciate their delicate beauty. I have one plant out of the many she gave me over the years that still survives. It was doing well and then I moved it to another space in the house that it didn’t seem to like as much. It drooped and I thought I would surely lose it. I took leaf cuttings and am trying to resurrect it. When roots sprout I will repot it and return it to its original location. In the meantime, I have a store-bought plant is flowering and makes me smile. I don’t think I will ever be as good an African violet cultivator as Mom was but I am grateful that she helped me to see the fine quality of this tiny bit of nature.

Here is just about everything you need to know about the care and cultivation of African violets. Feel free to share your experiences with this lovely plant.

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