african violets

when i was a kid, i spent a lot of time with my grandparents at their home in suburban boston. my grandmother loved to garden and it showed – there were gardens along the front, back, and one side of the house; along the front of the yard at the street and turning to run along one side of the driveway then looping around again to run paralell with the front of the house and far enough away from the garden in front of the house to allow room for a walkway; and a large vegetable garden in the backyard on one side of my grandfathers shed and an enclosed greenhouse on the other, which was also were the feral cats that my grandmother fed would hang out.

when i was about 8, my grandmother turned the carport into an indoor greenhouse and that’s where she kept her african violets. when i was staying with her, she would let me water the african violets and she always warned me to never get water on the leaves. i was super careful because i knew how much she loved them, so i loved them.

last year, i decided i wanted to have some african violets of my own. i went to home depot and got two of them – one with bright purple flowers (lucy – below on the left) and the other with a lighter purple at the edges of the flowers that gradually faded into a creamy white center (sam – below on the right).

by january of this year, i could tell they needed to be repotted and i decided that at the same time, i would harvest some of their leaves and see if i could propogate them and get more african violets. to do this, i sliced the leaves on an angle. i put some of them in a potting soil-perlite mix and some in just perlite.

by mid-march, of the 11 leaves that i was trying to grow, i had four left – two from each parent plant. unfortunately, sam did not make it through the repotting but lucy did, and she is thriving! as of today, she has about 30 open blossoms and there are more that are opening. that’s her down there.

yesterday, i repotted the new babies that had grown to see if they’ll take root and grow into full african violets. i had three leaves (two from sam, one from lucy) that produced an abundant amount of growth, and i was able to separate each into two little babies, giving me six total. there was one leaf from lucy that had not grown anything, but didn’t die, so i kept it, and in early april, it started to show little buds!

i’ll know in less than a week if any of these fail, but if they make it past that point, things look good! i’ll keep you posted! below you can see some pics of what they all look like now.

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