• Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • Upcoming events in Middle Tennessee

     

    Save the Date: Perennial Plant Society’s 30th Plant Sale is April 4, 2020, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the new Expo 3 Building at The Fairgrounds Nashville. Here’s where you can find the newest varieties of perennials, shrubs, vines and annuals from local growers, along with long-time, never-fail favorites, ready for spring planting. Learn more at the PPS website.

     

  • Categories

  • Archives

Keep African violets blooming

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 Road in Mt. Juliet. The meetings are open to the public.

 

Just water, please

Last summer, when it was very hot, I ran my dehumidifer upstairs when it was impossible to cool and used the water to water my indoor plants. Within a week or so they perked up like they were new plants, so I’m wondering how to duplicate that water, or what do you suggest? I have tried plant food, tea water, etc. and nothing works like the water from my dehumidfier. -S.W.

Houseplants may benefit from water that is free of added chemicals.

A likely explanation might be that since the water in a dehumidifier is “collected” from the air, nothing has been added — no chlorine or fluoride, such as we have in tap water. A lot of houseplants are sensitive to the additives in tap water, especially fluoride, according to my favorite source on caring for houseplants, author Barbara Pleasant’s Compete Houseplant Survival Manual.

You may be able to duplicate that unadulterated water by letting tap water sit out overnight before watering plants with it; supposedly that allows the chlorine and other chemicals in the water to escape. Or you could try using distilled water, or collect rainwater to use on your plants.

The author goes on to suggest using water that is at room temperature when you give it to the plants. “Giving cold water to tropical plants chills their roots, which can cause them to rot,” she writes.”