(Some of) What’s New:
Bristol’s Forbidden Fruit. New streptocarpus. Cherry-red blooms with distinctive, dark, burgundy-red face on throat and lower lips. Medium dark foliage. Dependable bloomer.
Prada. A stunning new strep hybrid from Russia. Large blooms with dark purple-magenta upper lobes, bright yellow lower lobes, edged in dark reddish-purple.
Oxalis vulcanicola ‘Zinfandel’. Adorable little plant that is perfect for tiny containers or terrariums. Cute, clover-shaped burgundy-wine colored leaves. Produces bright yellow blooms. Easy to grow, stays only a few inches tall and will spread.
To see more: www.pinterest.com/thevioletbarn/whats-new
“Honor roll” of violets. Only two varieties made AVSA’s honor roll of violets in 2014, and both were our hybrids! ‘Rob’s Chilly Willy’ and ‘Rob’s Fuddy Duddy’, were honored. These are longtime favorites of ours, and are frequent winners of top awards at shows. Both are extremely easy to grow and bloom, either as houseplants or for show, which likely explains their popularity.
Streptocarpus. A number of new hybrids have recently been listed. You’ll also notice more varieties listed than usual. We’ll feature many of the newer ones in future newsletters.
Terrarium and miniature houseplants. We’ve finally caught up on our propagation of these, as well. You’ll find a very wide selection is now (or will soon be) available. Many listings are new!
This month’s question:
I’ve had a (grocery store variety) violet whose blooms were a random mixture of pink and white when I bought it some years ago. I hadn’t bloomed since. I read your article about the influence of light and proper growing conditions, etc. and completely changed its environment and culture. The new blooms now have a distinct/different color pattern in addition to more intense color.
My questions are:
1. Is it normal for light/culture to make this much difference?
2. Is this considered a ‘pansy’ shape flower and is it normal to have the two small petals on the sides?
3. What would this type of violet be called (if it were a named hybrid violet)? A chimera?
Yes, light will make a difference in color intensity in blooms. Good, bright (but not intense or hot) light will both encourage more blooms but also better colored blooms. Other aspects of good culture, like feeding and humidity, will as well. The most influential, though, will be temperature. For most varieties, cooler temperatures (65-75f range) bring out more intense colors, though this often isn’t true for a few varieties, like many with “thumbprint” blooms and some white blooms with colored edges. Also remember that the type (color spectrum) of light, though it won’t change the actual color of the blooms, can make them appear to be differently or more intensely, colored–even if equally bright, not all light (or light bulbs) is the same.
The two most common shapes of African violet blossoms are “pansy” and “star” (there are others, less common). “Pansy” blooms will have petals of unequal size–the top petals typically smaller than the lower petals. “Star” shaped blooms will have equal-sized petals and, because of this, are typically larger in size.
Since your plant came unnamed, can’t be sure how the hybridizer intended it to be classified. It is like not a chimera, though. The term “chimera” refers to the unique genetic properties of the plant that affect its propagation. Most violets, when propagated by leaf cuttings, will produce plantlets that will have an appearance identical to the leaf-donor plant. This is because all parts (leaves or tissues) of the donor plant are genetically the same. This is not true for chimeras. Plantlets produced from leaf cuttings will not have the same appearance as the donor plant, and need to be propagated from only those parts of the plant with that unique genetic makeup–usually the growing tip (crown). Usually, but certainly not always (as in the case of “leaf” chimeras), blooms are pinwheel-striped.
For more information, visit our plant care pages.
This month’s tip:
Lots of our customers ask about saucers for the plastic pots we use and sell. Surprisingly, though we can find sources for plastic pots (though finding good pots can be difficult as well), proper sauces seem not to exist. We’ve learned to be creative.
You’ll notice we do sell “saucers” for 4″ pots on our site. Looking closer, you’ll also notice they really aren’t saucers, but are clear food container lids–this is the closest we can find in size and shape to a proper saucer for a 4″ pot, and we can find a supplier of them at a reasonable price. For smaller pots, you’ll need to be even more creative. For example,we use tops from plastic cat litter containers for some of the smaller pots in our personal collection. Made of heavy plastic, deep enough, and depending on the litter “formula” you can get them in different colors!
There are other possibilities as well, if you keep your eyes open. The difficulty in “repurposing” such things is collecting enough of them in a similar appearance, so your plant collection doesn’t look like part of a garage sale. One advantage of having a 16 year old cat is we’ve collected a lot of these saucers!
Are you an AVSA member?
Consider joining! Sign up through our website and get a free plant! For more information, visit www.avsa.org