I have a few very nice African violets. These three are descendants of a plant I inherited from my grandmother about nine years ago. I have no idea how long she had the plant before that. It grows and blooms, and grows and blooms, and grows and blooms; all with a modicum of care from me. Its tendency is to form several side plants, so every couple of years, I un-pot it and divide it. It recovers well and re-blooms quickly. It is very happy in a bright northern window, and doesn’t react to the cool winter temperatures of its room. I cannot say enough good things about this wonderful plant!
Then, there are these sad over-crowded, non-blooming, curly leaved specimens:
Clearly, they needed help! Following advice I found at the African Violet Society of America website, I delved into the delicate operation of saving my plants.
This plant had a very small root system. I also found that the soil in the lower half of the pot was quite compacted, to the point that I had to pry it from the pot. No wonder the plant did not care to bloom!
Where two plants grew as one, I used a very sharp knife and sliced cleanly between the stalks to separate them.
This violet’s stalk was fairly long and crooked. With my trusty knife, I cut it just above the main bend, leaving a shorter, mostly straight stalk. I was happy to find no signs of rot within the stem.
Earlier, I had mixed African violet potting soil with some perlite and vermiculite and watered it well. My reading informed me that violets like a loose mix of easily drained soil, and that African violet potting soil on its own can be too heavy.
For re-potting, I chose the smallest pots I have, to keep the violet from putting all its energy into growing roots rather than flowers. I made a small hole in each pot of soil, inserted the stalks of the violets, and gently firmed the soil around each one. Because the soil was already quite moist, I did not water them at this point. I then put each pot inside a plastic sandwich bag and sealed it shut. They will live on an east facing windowsill for a month or two, until the roots have taken hold and I see signs of new growth. I hope to have good news to report about these patients in the near future!
This violet will be next to undergo the knife, once it has finished blooming. It blooms reliably early each spring, after wintering in our upstairs bathroom in a west facing frosted glass window. I think it likes the humidity and filtered bright light. I will remove several of the lower rounds of leaves and re-pot the plant, likely in the same pot, just to rejuvenate it and encourage an even bigger, and perhaps more frequent, show of blooms in the future.