Saturday, May 15, 2010

Repotting & Chiritas

And more repotting. Gads I hate Miracle Gro potting mix for African Violets. Now, don't get me wrong, it is absolutely fine for other tropical houseplants and for your garden!! But not for gessies (African Violets and other gesneraids). First of all, if you are new at growing violets, the bag says it will fill two 8-inch pots. Please don't think you should grow your violets in 8-inch pots! My friend A :-) has a nice violet care and potting tutorial. You should check it out here:

Read all on one page (start from bottom of page and read up)

Or read the pages individually:
Plants part 1

Plants part 2

Plants part 3

Restarting a Crown

Consistent Care

Plants part 6

(excellent tutorial A :-) !!)

So...maybe you are wondering why in the world I potted my violets in that stuff and what happened? Well, for one thing, I ran out of potting soil, some of my violets were severely overdue for repotting, and there was a lot of stuff going on and I had no time to order. I used to be able to choose from a couple brands sold locally but now the shelves are COMPLETELY DOMINATED by one brand. So I thought---add some perlite (which I still had from last year---the plain UNFERTILIZED kind).

At first my plants seemed to perk up, but then leaves started to yellow, and some started turning bronze. Well, that's no good. That means the plant's ability to use certain minerals has gone completely catawampus. So they were going to need to come out of that crap fast!! I emailed a violet friend who was able to mail me a big box of >>REAL<< African Violet potting soil. Thank you!!!!!!

I started repotting two days ago (I only do a few at a time). I noticed when I pulled the plants out of the potting mix it was WAAAY too wet. This was even with lots of perlite added (because I wick water). So I am hoping (and expecting) them to start looking better with the new mix, which has NO fertilizer in it and NO wetting agents. (In all fairness, maybe if you are top-watering only and letting the plants almost but not quite dry out before watering again, the Miracle Gro will work for you).

Ok...on to other news. My two Chirita plants are looking happy and healthy. The markings on the leaves are more pronounced and they are already putting out new leaves!! Because Silver Surfer has a long "neck" or stem, I potted it down (lower in the pot). I checked and it is already putting new roots out along the stem!

NOTE---just because this is working with Silver Surfer doesn't mean it will work with all of them. There are many different Chirita.

The rooting leaves are doing fine, except for Kitaguni, which wilted. I just now pulled it out of the pot because I figured I would try making a new cut on the stem, but I saw two baby roots and put it back. So I think it will be ok after all!

I am very interested in Chirita for several reasons, mostly pertaining to their culture. They like a more alkaline environment, which we have a lot of in Indiana (limestone---it makes the water hard, which Chirita like). So I don't need to adjust the pH of my water when I water them. Also, they like to grow very cool in winter (I have trouble keeping my violets warm enough), and they only need to be repotted once a year! Yay! A big plus is they have beautiful leaves. Sometimes it's hard to get them to bloom., but some of them are so pretty they don't need blooms to be admired.

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