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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A gift of a flowering African violet

I've given flowering, potted African violets as small token gifts for friend's birthdays, or when someone needed  a bit of cheering up, or even as a thinking-of-you gift following the passing of a friend's loved one. They don't cost me much of anything. Just soil, a pot, a plastic wrap and ribbon, plus my time and love.

I like to keep a few of these growing, hopefully having one at all times that could be flowering, ready at hand for a gift. But my supply dwindled to just the one, "mother plant".

Time to begin another set. This past October, I filled a 4-cell seed starter with soil. Then I plucked 4 leaves with stems from my mother plant, and inserted into the soil. I kept the soil damp, watering a coupled of times per week. I lost one leaf entirely, but 3 remain, with one having sprouted new leaves already.

It usually takes about 12 weeks for a plantlet (the grouping of small leaves) to develop from the time of cutting. I'll be keeping an eye on the other 2 leaves, hoping for another couple of plants.

This one, with the baby leaves attached, will be ready to pot up into its own pot in about 3 or 4 weeks. I want it to become strong and healthy before changing pots, but not wait so long that the plant has outgrown it's space and water supply.

It can take 6-9 months to go from baby plant to flowering one. But I have patience.

(Some experts recommend trimming 1/3 off the initial leaf at time of cutting. I've never done this, and still have success with propagation.)

Have you experimented with propagating plants? There's a method for propagating lilacs with just leaves. But I've never tried it, and am hoping to get more information on this method sometime.


  1. Umm, I don't think you want me in charge of houseplants. I seem to be a beacon of death. But I do love African violets!

    1. Hi Kris,
      That bad, huh? Too funny! I guess you don't get asked to plant-sit very often, then.
      I'm not all that great with houseplants, but I do okay with African violets.

    2. I have always heard that African violets are finicky to deal with, so you must have some houseplant skills! :)

      As you have probably guessed, my husband has the green thumb around here. We do have several houseplants which have survived for years. He often waters them but uses his coffee cup (filled with water but with the dregs of coffee in it) so maybe they like caffeine??

    3. If African violets are finicky, then I want to find what is considered easy! I do better with African violets than just about any other houseplant, although I have killed a few in my day. I do have what must be the ideal light for African violets, as my mother plant stays in bloom nearly year round. My biggest problem is haphazard watering.

    4. Yes, i think violets are all about the right amount of light. Many plants are like this. I love the idea of giving the small plants as gifts. I collect vintage flower vases and pots when I find them at the thrift store to give as gifts. I buy the flowers or plant. This would be even cheaper. But, I guess you have to stay at it year round so that you have a supply.

    5. Hi Christie,
      now that's a brilliant idea, to collect vintage pots for plants. That would elevate my gift of a blooming plant to something really special. Thank you for the suggestion!

  2. African violets are okay for cats so maybe I should get one.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      I thought about your cats when I posted this, and imagined their thought process, "hmmm, a new chew toy just for us!!".
      But that's good to know that African violets aren't harmful to cats. (They can't possibly taste good, though.)


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