Friday, May 19, 2006

I have a thing for African Violets!

African Violets & Friends on the internet

For 20 years my idea of growing African Violets was going to mom's house and liberating a couple in full bloom and bringing them to my house. To finish blooming. And then they usually died. I'll admit it was my fault. I often let them go dry and then watered the crap out of them to make up for it. No matter!

Mom had more; often blooming and in 3 or 4 colors. One that Aunt Vena gave to her often had 2 different colored blooms on the same plant? Turns out that's called a "sport" and not actually a desired result. Leaves from these plants had been passed around relatives and friends for years. So why couldn't I keep them alive for more than 6 months?

I went to the internet several years ago to find out more about the care of African Violets. Figuring they're not supposed to be disposable at the end of each blooming cycle, perhaps I could do better? What I found amazed me. African Violets have NAMES! People trade leaves and collect varieties to the point of addiction. AND host flower shows specifically for AV's. There's even a national organization, African Violet Society of America, that puts out a magazine and hosts a website with loads of info.

I started out on the GardenWeb site and soon found there were several online groups offering advice. Some of the groups were well established, some a little clicky; some actively feuding with each other. A friendly, older gentleman by the name of Fred seemed to be all knowing and everywhere. Always above the fray and wise in the ways of AV care, dispensing logical advice.

And then I discovered an MSN group, The Violet Voice just starting up by a lady in Montana. Mrs. John. I posted a note announcing the news of my find on GardenWeb and was promptly yelled at by Spike the moderator; my first run in with the "we don't play well with others" attitude. No matter! I tried several of the online groups on for fit. This group is the best!

I went into a funk over the winter and lost a bit of my first enthusiasim with growing AV's. I think I took up knitting? There were no blooms and I had way too many plants. Each day I walked past them with a promise of "tomorrow" and it's a wonder any of them survived. An email from Montana to the original Charter Members snapped me out of it and once I owned up to being lazy and ignoring everything I had learned, I renewed my effort with AV's. Just a few short months and the turn around still has me joyfully surprised. Repotting & consistant care did wonders. Plus the golden rule: Grow only the number you have time to care for.

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