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Propagating and Repotting African Violets

African Violet Overflow Is a Good Thing!

Among its other peculiarities, the African violet is content to live in a pot full of its own roots and prefers being root bound to frequent repotting. Because African violets prefer to be root bound, the optimal time to replant is when your plants overflow their pots.

Any disturbance is too much for the Saintpaulis. This lovely plant is the Greta Garbo of houseplants- to paraphrase, "It wants to be left alone". If you're repotting them more than once a year, you're probably guilty of over-kill. Once they find a spot they like, they don't like to be moved.

Experienced growers know that a good time to repot the Saintpaulis is when it overflows its container and quickly dries out between watering times. A sure way to kill an African violet is to over-water, so if your plant seems to be drying too quickly, consider repotting rather than watering more or more often.

Often, the reason for low bloom is that the pot is too big for the African violet. In fact, the Saintpaulis blooms best when it is slightly root bound. When you do repot, make sure to move up no more than two sizes at a time.

When it is time to repot, remove all crowns from your African violet except for the central one. Also, trim leaves from the plant, leaving a circle of leaves around the crown. Use a paring knife to scrape through the brown plant matter on the neck of your plant. When you see green, break off half the root and set your pruned African Violet into the pot, placing the crown just above the surface. Press the mixture firmly around the crown and water your plant well.

Propagate Your African Violets by Leaf or Seed

Whether your plant grows as a trailer or is the more common rosette type of African violet, you can easily propagate it by leaf cutting, Cleanly sever a leaf preserving about 1 inches of stem. After dusting it with root powder, plant it about an inch deep in African Violet starting mix. Until new leaves begin to form, cover your new plant with a plastic bag to preserve the humidity.

Although African violets are easy to propagate from leaf cuttings, for a real adventure in African violet growing, try starting them from seeds.

The fun of growing African violets from flower seeds is that you never know what you'll get, since plants grown from seeds seldom have the characteristics of their parent. Although your seedling's foliage may be similar or the same as that of its parent, its flowers most probably will differ in color and type! Your purple violet may spawn children that bloom with an entirely different color and shape of flower!

Your first time in growing African violet flower seeds, you may want to purchase them from an experienced grower. However, if you've successfully grown Saintpaulis from seed, you may want to try pollinating your own plants to produce African violet flower seeds. The flower is the reproductive organ of the Saintpaulis and contains all the parts it needs to self-seed. However, experienced hybridizers often pollinate their plants to be successful in producing new seedlings.

Patience is more of a necessity than a virtue when growing African violets from seed. Seedlings may take up to three months to emerge and it may take from five to seven months before you see the first flower blossom. Many growers suggest that you plant only half a package of seed at a time. The seeds are small and produce very small offspring, so working with your young plants requires a steady hand as well as a good measure of patience.

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