QUESTION: My African violets were blooming beautifully when I got them a few months ago, but no longer. How can I get them to bloom again?
It’s easy to love those dainty clusters of blossoms rising from rosettes of downy leaves. African violets look like they’d be fussy plants, but quite the opposite: “They’re easy to grow if you know a few secrets,” says Julie Mavity-Hudson of the Nashville African Violet Club.
One of those secrets may surprise you: African violets tend to bloom better when they’re slightly root-bound, so don’t rush to move them to larger pots. They thrive in bright, indirect light and average room temperatures, in soil that is kept slightly moist. “The thing that kills more African violets than anything is overwatering,” Mavity-Hudson says.
Failure to bloom might be because the plant is not getting enough light. In winter, when the light is low, try moving it to a south or west window where the light is brighter, but move it away from the window when the light is more intense. Direct sun will burn the leaves of African violets.
A light feeding of high-phosphorous plant food every few weeks may also help. Houseplant expert Barbara Pleasant (The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual) suggests adding a light pinch of Epsom salts to water to push balky plants into bloom.
To get together with other African violet aficionados, check out the Nashville African Violet Club, which meets the first Sunday of most months,1:45, at the Green Hill Women’s Center,10905 Lebanon RoadinMt.Juliet. The meetings are open to the public.
Events coming up
– Professional Landscape Association of Nashville, Tennessee – P.L.A.N.T. – will hold its winter seminar Thursday (Jan. 12),8 a.m. – 4 p.m., in Massey Hall atCheekwoodBotanical Garden. The day’s topics include “Right Plant Right Spot,” by Kerry Mendez; “Pruning Techniques & Best Management Practices” by Karla Kean; Perennial Plant Collector’s Corner by Kerry Mendez; and “Longwood Gardens’ Vision for Horticultural Excellence and Beauty,” by Rodney Eason. Registration at the door is $100 for P.L.A.N.T. members, $125 for non-members (includes lunch). To learn more, visit P.L.A.N.T.’s Web site here.
–Another reminder that the Nashville Lawn & Garden Show is March 1 – 4 at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds. This year’s theme is Gardens Past, Present & Future, and as always the show features beautiful live gardens, 250 exhibit booths, a floral design gallery and a roster of free lectures.
Peter J. Hatch, Director of Gardens and Grounds at Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, is one of this year’s speakers. Hatch is scheduled to speak on Friday, March 2 about “Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden,” which featured more than 330 varieties of vegetables. On Saturday, March 3, Hatch will discuss Jefferson’s use of native plants, the union of gardening and sociability, and his experimentation with useful plants as a means of social change in his talk, “Thomas Jefferson, Gardener.” Other popular speakers are returning: Jeff Poppen, The Barefoot Farmer from Long Hungry Creek Farm in Red Boiling Springs,Tenn.; Rita Randolph of Randolph’s Greenhouses from Jackson, Tenn.; and Justin Stelter, historic gardener for Carnton Plantation in Franklin and The Hermitage, Home of Andrew Jackson. Information about these free lectures is at the Nashville Lawn & Garden Show Web site.
Admission will be $10 for adults ($9 if you’re 65 or older), and this year the Tennessee State Fairgrounds will charge $5 per vehicle to park during the show. The Web site promises group discount and coupon offers coming soon.