Crowded Center growth
Question: All of my violets are showing very crowded centers. The center leaves are small and bunched together. I’m worried that I might have mites. Is that likely?
Answer: Probably not. It’s more likely that these were the symptoms of too much light and, to a lesser degree, too much fertilizer. This grower had her violets under artificial lights–4 florescent tubes above each 2’x2′ shelf, less than a foot above the plants. The lights were kept on for 12 hours per day. This amount of light is far too much for most varieties of African violets, about twice as much as they need. Two tubes, about 10-12″ above miniature violets, and 15-18″ above standard-size violets, for 12-13 hours a day, would be sufficient for healthy growth and good blooming.
This grower also used “Oyama” pots and fertilized at the full, recommended dosage for regular, periodic, watering (i.e. “if you feed every time you water, use this amount…..”). This type of pot is part of a constant-watering system where an inner pot, with a “slotted” bottom is placed inside an outer water-holding pot. Of course, this not only provides water to the plant at all times, but also fertilizer. Because the plant processes a greater volume of water when using this kind of pot, it will also process a greater volume of fertilizer. For this reason, fertilizer dilution should be cut to perhaps 1/3 or 1/4 of the regular amount, which hadn’t been done in this case. The same would be true for any constant-watering system, such as “wick” watering or the use of self-watering “violet pots”.