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African Violets in Gritty Mix or 5:1:1

Posted by lathyrus_odoratus (My Page) on
Wed, Aug 5, 09 at 0:47

I mentioned this in one of the soil threads, but have more questions, so wanted to make it a dedicated thread.

I am convinced that many of the problems that many growers have with AVs is because of the very wet peat based soil we all use to grow them. I filled three, 3 oz Solo cups (often used to start leaves) each with gritty mix, 5:1:1, and a typical AV mix of 1:1:1 peat, vermiculite and perlite.

I added 15ml of water to each and mixed well. Then, I added 25ml more water to each. I had holes punched in the bottom and I let them drain.

The gritty mix drained 11 ml, the 5:1:1 drained 10 ml, and the 1:1:1 drained no water.

I believe that most of us who get good results have learned how to manage this slow soil mix, but that it's not optimal. But, I'm relatively new to this and I don't know much about the other components and how they might affect AV culture. Some of my fellow AV growers think I'm crazy to entertain that the 1:1:1 isn't the best mix. Mostly, I think they believe that the alternatives will cause problems.

So, I need some help and knowledge from all of you who know more about these components than I.

First, the bark. The criticism I've heard is that it's too acid and that it will decompose quickly, taking the pH too low, causing problems with ferts. I do not think the bark will decompose that quickly, but I don't know what happens when bark decomposes. Does it create a more acid environment? From my research, AVs can take a pH from about 5.5 to about 7. In that range, many people say that there are better sweet spots - say, 6.5-7 vs 5.5-6 - so there isn't agreement, but I think we can safely say they will grow in anything in that range.

As the pH drops, there are problems with availability of some ferts, if I am remembering what I've read here correctly. When I measured the pH of the soil solution here at my home, the gritty mix was about 6.5 and the 5:1:1 was 5.6. This was without anything added, such as lime.

Now, AVs should be repotted at least annually, and some as often as 6 months, so if you repot that frequently, will the decomposition of the bark cause problems?

Next is the question of fertilizer. Everything I'm reading points to AVs being no different from any other plant in that a 3:1:2 ratio is a good ratio. Given that preferred pH of the plant and the both the gritty and the 5:1:1 mix, would any changes need to be made in the fert?

My last question is about watering. Many AV growers do not top water. They use wicks to bring water in (not as a way to encourage drainage). Or they use capillary mats. Either way, they are bottom watering.

I seem to recall Just-a-Guy remarking that he needed to alter the 5:1:1 to wick to the top, but this was in a taller container. Most AVs are in shallow depth containers. Can anyone think of anything that might need to be changed in order to wick or capillary mat water either of these soil mixes?

Also, because these are wicking upward, is there anything special that needs to happen to avoid salt accumulation? They are not getting flushed each time they are watered. Will how often they should be flushed vary based on the mix or should that not matter?

I have about 16 leaves rooted and in the process of growing baby plants. I plan on taking plants of the same variety, from the same leaf, and growing them in each of the three mixes to compare. I also will do another experiment with fertilizer, comparing a traditional AV fert, but haven't figured out what soil mix to use. I don't want too many variables....Oops. I just looked at my AV fert. I bought a 20-5-10. It's a bit more N than a 3:1:2 ratio, but is darn close. Guess I won't be testing that unless I buy one of the other ferts that are sold for AVs.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: African Violets in Gritty Mix or 5:1:1

First, the bark. The criticism I've heard is that it's too acid and that it will decompose quickly, taking the pH too low, causing problems with ferts.

On average pine bark is slightly less acid than sphagnum peat moss and it decomposes more slowly. Adding lime as most of the commercial peat mixes do makes this a non issue.

Now, AVs should be repotted at least annually, and some as often as 6 months, so if you repot that frequently, will the decomposition of the bark cause problems?

No. The decomp of bark/peat isn't what drives pH down, it's the material itself. You can take distilled water (pH 7.0 and zero buffering capacity/alkalinity) and use it to soak pine bark or peat and it quickly changes the pH of the water. It's decomp isn't relevant to this as it does it 'fresh'.

I seem to recall Just-a-Guy remarking that he needed to alter the 5:1:1 to wick to the top, but this was in a taller container. Most AVs are in shallow depth containers. Can anyone think of anything that might need to be changed in order to wick or capillary mat water either of these soil mixes?

In the typical 3-4" depth AVs are planted in, no. Even fairly coarse, not at all composted bark will do that.

Also, because these are wicking upward, is there anything special that needs to happen to avoid salt accumulation? They are not getting flushed each time they are watered. Will how often they should be flushed vary based on the mix or should that not matter?

The need to flush is part theory, part practical. In theory salts can build up, but if the fert is close to what plants actually use the rate of build up will be very slow compared to those who use silly stupid ferts that are way out of range of what plants use. The person who uses 10-50-10 is going to see build up much more rapidly than the person who uses 24-8-16 since almost all plants use NPK in a roughly 3:1:2 ratio or very close to it.

A simple top watering every now and then neatly takes this theoretical problem into the realm of non issue.

One of my experiments this year has been with roses. I have never grown them before and I noticed lots of people and 'authorities' have all sorts of soil and fert recipes they seem to say must be used or disaster looms. Roses also seem to get nuked with all manner of pesticide and fungicide to stay healthy. I just got a couple roses and stuffed them into a bark based mix and let them be. I watered and fertilized the way I would anything else. Now, I don't claim to have the world's best roses or anything like that, but they are both alive, look good and have bloomed readily since not long after I got them. They get a 3:1:2 ratio fert and no pesticides or fungicides are being used. They are both disease free and pest wise they seem to be aphid magnets, but that's hardly a reason for using a pesticide instead of the hose and my fingers.

The moral is that certain plants seem to have fans who insist on making them seem like enormously complicated things that require sacrificing one's first born on a full moon to get them to live and grow. Certain practices catch on for no good reason and everyone (almost) ends up blindly following these practices.

Feel free to take the entire body of 'wisdom' and chuck it out a 20th story window to meet the death it deserves. Just treat a plant like a plant and let the plant tell you if it likes it's treatment or not.

There are difficult plants due to humidity or temperature preferences or lack of genetic resistance to prevalent diseases etc. Even these fail to break the general rules of thumb regarding the need for a well aerated potting mix, a pretty close adherence to a 3:1:2 ratio nutrient requirement etc.

Just grow them according to sound horticultural knowledge. If you try out a plant you just can't grow due to it's being native to an area vastly different than your own, move on ;)


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RE: African Violets in Gritty Mix or 5:1:1

In an 1981 article I found by one of the African Violet world's now renowned 'experts' Pauline Bartholomew (an Experimenter that I suspect would applaud your efforts ;) -

>> "When I read articles or hear lectures on how to grow show plants I think to myself, "I would sure like to see your plants before I take your advice![...] I have been growing African violets for over 10 years but it took me a long time to achieve even modest success in growing show-quality plants. It wasnt until I began to perfect my grooming skills and happened to run across "Texas Style" potting that I began to take the top awards in judged shows.">>

As a top waterer, your gritty mix that "dries out the next day" is probably not going to be a solution that helps me until I try wicking again. (Which I had problems with trying 1:1:1!) Mostly I didn't like washing the "green" wick containers and I'm dead set against community trays. Adding "stuff" to prevent it seemed like just another layer of 'making things more difficult than they need to be'. I want SIMPLE back-to-the-basics solutions. And hefting a plant pot to see if it needs water makes me happy.

I do like to experiment though! I just set 4 plants to experiment with Texas-Style potting - article quoted above linked below has more details.
I don't think the AV "skeptics" words of caution are meant to discourage - but until you can 'show them the plants' this is [just] one more option to try - with an asterisk warning caution to try experiments on plants a few at a time.
Congrats on your 1st African Violet leaf babies!! As you say - let the experimenting begin...

PS what is 5:1:1 ingredient/order?

Here is a link that might be useful: AVSA workshop/ potting method


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RE: African Violets in Gritty Mix or 5:1:1

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Aug 5, 09 at 10:09

5:1:1 =
5 parts partially composted pine bark
1 part sphagnum peat
1 part perlite
dolomitic (garden) lime

Personally, I would use some slight variation of the 1:1:1 mix of:
pine or fir bark fines
Screened Turface or NAPA floor-dry
crushed granite (Gran-I-Grit in grower size or #2 cherrystone)
gypsum

Al


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RE: African Violets in Gritty Mix or 5:1:1

Al, you are recommending gypsum. Please tell me why the gypsum instead of lime. Does is have a better profile for providing magnesium and calcium in the right proportions? How does it affect pH? (forgive me for not remembering....)


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RE: gritty mix and daily watering

justaguy2, thanks for the detailed response. I haven't tried wicking these mixes as I don't have actual plants yet.

Dognapper, you are probably guessing right about not wanting to try the gritty mix unless you want to water every day, and possibly twice a day. You water, it runs out freely, and the next day it's bone dry (of course, it depends on the plant's roots, but it doesn't hold the water you are used to). On the other hand, it may be exactly what we need to wick and not have excessive moisture.


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Texas Style watering

Speaking of the Texas Style watering...

I may have my styles confused, but in one of the AV wicking methods, a layer of perlite is placed beneath the typical AV 1:1:1 of peat, perlite, and vermiculite. It's supposed to prevent excess water or encourage drainage or both.

It seems to me that this is simply a variation on layering or putting shards in your pot....but that in the end, it simply ends up raising the "perched water table." It that what happens or is this an effective way of managing soil that is really too wet?


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RE: African Violets in Gritty Mix or 5:1:1

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Aug 5, 09 at 17:17

We use lime in the 5:1:1 mix because it can afford the pH increase that accompanies the solution to both the plant's Ca and Mg needs. Since the starting pH of the gritty mix is at least a full point higher than the 5:1:1 mix, it's better to supply Ca via the CaSO4 (gypsum) than by lime, to keep the pH down. When we do this, we simply include a little Epsom Salts in the fertilizer solution each time we water.

Some may be able to get away with using lime in the gritty mix, but you're very likely to see Fe/Mn deficiencies (like I do) if your irrigation water is too far north of neutral. That's why the/my general recommendation is for gypsum.

The perlite at the bottom of the AV containers does nothing for drainage unless the soil particles are larger than half the size of the perlite .... in which case there would be no perched water & the perlite would be superfluous.

Al


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RE: African Violets in Gritty Mix or 5:1:1

The perlite at the bottom of the AV containers does nothing for drainage unless the soil particles are larger than half the size of the perlite .... in which case there would be no perched water & the perlite would be superfluous.

I have not tested this so it's just pure speculation, but the layer of perlite at the bottom may limit the rate at which water wicks upward. If this is the case then the heavy/fine particled peat:perlite:vermiculite mix may stay moist, but not wet.

*IF* this is the case it seems logical to me to just replace the entire thing with a mix that wicks well, but stays damp, not wet.


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RE: African Violets in custom SWFL Gritty Mix

Howdy!
Is the perlite in the bottom theory maybe like double potting for added humidity? Just wondering, I've aquired a few AV's recently and am too scared to even look at them cross eyed. "Serious plant people" can definitely scare the compost out of you.

I think justaguy said it best: "Feel free to take the entire body of 'wisdom' and chuck it out a 20th story window to meet the death it deserves. Just treat a plant like a plant and let the plant tell you if it likes it's treatment or not."

Now my almost happy AV's shall be repotted in the good grit everything else (in my neck of the woods) seems happy and content with. I still am left with a couple of questions though:

How much bare rooting is safe with them? I've only unpotted one thus far, so I know her roots are more fragile than say... a philo or etc...

I have not been that gentle with the repotting process lately, which sometimes has yielded good results, sometimes, not so much.

Terra or plastic? Will/can the salt build up show on the rim of the container and the stems themselves or might that be mold on the leaf/flower stem?

Thanks in advance
Shannon


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Excellent! A fellow adventurer!

I wish I had some answers, Shanielynn, but I'm too new to AVs to help very much....everything in my brain is theoretical - either based on the entire body of wisdom or the theory I formed after I chucked that body - but, either way, it's still theory, lol.

But, I'm thrilled to have a soul mate who's also throwing things out the window, lol. I've a few people cheering me on and one or two who're trying a thing or two, but it's nice to have another person doing the soil experiment, too. As Dognapper said upthread, most people want to see the plant a year from now before investing much. And, if I had a couple hundred plants doing well because I'd learned how to get the best out of the typical peat AV mix, I just might be the same!

But, as a newcomer, I have a less to lose and more to gain.

Here's the bit of theory that I might throw out. If you use a 3:1:2 fert, as justaguy2 said upthread, you probably won't have an issue with salts building up. But, if you are asking if the plants you have now might be showing this, I can't help. I haven't a clue how they build up in an AV. But, if it's mold, I'd think powdery mildew as it's common to AVs. I use the Dyna Gro Foliage Pro for my container plants, so I'll probably use that. I also have an AV fert that is a 4:1:2 ratio and I may try that, too. Not sure how helpful any of that was...

When repotting AVs, most people (from what I've read) take off any yellowing leaves and then bury the plant a little lower in the soil to cover any exposed "neck" and cover the neck up to the first row of leaves. When doing this, the plant may now have to lose some roots because it's sitting lower. The pot size should be about 1/3 the size of the diameter of the leaves - so a 9" plant would get a 3" pot. Again, not sure that answered your question.

Per the pot type, the majority of people use plastic in the AV world, but I'm not sure of all the reasons. I do know that sterilization is one of them (there are many potential fungal/bacterial/viral etc. problems with AVs).

Are you going to wick water or top water? If I was wicking, for some reason I think I'd choose plastic, but I'm at a loss to explain why I think that.


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RE: African Violets in Gritty Mix or 5:1:1

I have recently begun top watering because I was washing the stones they had been sitting on for humidity. Honestly, I think they were absorbing waay too much water from them in the first place: probably causing my fungal problem.

I know a couple of my plants have suckers. But I've read so much about not touching the leaves with anything other than a soft brush, I've been too scared to even peek. LOL!!

They are flowering. Seem content on my east window sill, but when I change to the gritty mix I've grown to love (no pun)=D, the great drainage has become a concern, as the sill is marble. I try to give them small sips because they are still in the peat poop they came in... I dunno

I'm glad you asked this question! My AV's will be thanking you shortly.

Have a good night
Shannon


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How Texas style method works

justaguy2 said: "I have not tested this so it's just pure speculation, but the layer of perlite at the bottom may limit the rate at which water wicks upward. If this is the case then the heavy/fine particled peat:perlite:vermiculite mix may stay moist, but not wet.

*IF* this is the case it seems logical to me to just replace the entire thing with a mix that wicks well, but stays damp, not wet."

That certainly sounds logical. It may indeed do that.

I do not think it's used for the humidity, but I just realized I have Pauline Bartholomew's book, Growing to Show, which explains the method. Unfortunately, I have just read it and it doesn't explain why the perlite.

However a quick Google search led me to an AVSA article that explains, "THE SPONGE ROCK LAYER HAS AIR SPACES THAT ALLOW THE FREE EXCHANGE OF GASES AT THE ROOT TIPS" and "THE ROOTS HAVE FREE ACCESS TO MOISTURE AND NUTRIENTS".

The assumption here is that the root tips are actually IN the perlite, making it more like AVs grow in the wild.


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RE: African Violets in Gritty Mix or 5:1:1

Shannon wrote "I know a couple of my plants have suckers. But I've read so much about not touching the leaves with anything other than a soft brush, I've been too scared to even peek. LOL!!"

Not too worry, AV leaves actually LIKE getting wet. They just don't want to STAY wet or have cold water. Use tepid water and you can rinse them off, spray them, dunk them, etc. Many people write about doing it, they all just make sure they DRY the leaves afterward with a paper towel, and more importantly, don't let water sit on the crown.


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RE: African Violets in Gritty Mix or 5:1:1

I keep a little watering 'can' (plastic) full of water on the sill with them to sleep every night. Ambient water temp and less contaminants: then I water only the soil throughout the day. If they don't mind fine misting, that sounds a lot better than the humidity tray. Though down here, with 100% humidity outside, I'm sure our inside % is still tolerable for them, even with the air on. Guess I should get a hygrometer =D and check it out!! LOL!

Sounds like the perlite tries to make up for bad soil. Gritty seems to fullfill the AV's "natural needs" as far as free access and gas exchanges go...

Shannon


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RE: African Violets in Gritty Mix or 5:1:1

I think that they prefer about 50-60%, but I may be misremembering. I also think that different types have different preferences simply based on the 16 leaves I've started with. Two of them (same type) just didn't like it in the domed container. They were very wilty. I took them both out and put them in a plastic bag and sealed it and put it in a less bright place. Within 2 days they looked better. They proceeded to root quickly after that and one of them was the first leaf of the 16 to send up a plantlet. The second leaf to send up a plantlet is in a sunnier, drier spot and is completely happy there.

My humidity is very low in my condo. In the summer it's rarely over 41, and in the winter it can get close to 30. I'm in a humid area, but we're relatively high up in our building, so the AC is on from March to November. The heat isn't on much in the winter because the other units' heat rise to heat us, but it's dry heat, so it's still dry in here. We run a humidifier in the winter because of the piano, but it's not as much as we need.

I now I'll have to find ways to humidify the AVs. Since this is a completely new plant to me, I haven't gotten past leaves yet. I have my first two plantlets, but they are about 1mm each, lol, so it's still going to be awhile before I actually have plants to worry about. In the meantime, most of my leaves are growing inside bags. About 8 are in a domed container, so they still get some humidity.

I just added 15 leaves to my collection today, but I put them in the traditional AV mix. I wasn't at all sure how the leaves would take to the gritty mix (with no roots) and I didn't think they'd stay put too well. Since I didn't have two leaves of the same kind, I went with what I know. Once I have my own plants I will be able to play around to see how leaves handle different mixes.


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RE: African Violets in Gritty Mix or 5:1:1

I have bare-rooted another kind of plant (some sort of geranium- I think). They didn't have many roots to hold on with and is not happy to stay seated so, you are right about sticking the leaves in the grit. They might not stay. I think that's another great thing about mixing your own soils, adjustments can be made for any kind of plant, in any kind of environment.

I have done other plant cuttings and just put a bit of damp peat into the planting hole. I like to do things like that in clear containers if I can, so I can see what's going on. The peat has held them in place long enough to start their journey. I was actually able to get a bougie rooted that way. First one to finally make it, woo hoo!!

My AV leaves have been sitting in an extra pot of the old peaty soil since I first brought them home. Not a clear container, so still I wait... =D

Practically anything that falls (or is broken) off of any plant, I try to save somehow. My son is 2 and tends to pull on stuff. I keep a tray with damp turface and perlite ready, just until I can research how they should be treated properly. (It happens a lot!!!)

Went window shopping last night and actualy considered buying a digital weather station, you know the one inside and out. My dad has one, but I thought he was just a weather nerd. LOL! Apples don't fall very far do they.

Most plants I have now are new to me. Really, other than my Jades, I don't have a heck of a whole lot of experience. I have been able to fill my DH's office with plants I 'made' for him. I've also made friends with the plant guy at our grocery store, so on Sundays and Mondays if I'm there early enough, he'll let me "rescue" the plants doomed to the recycling bin. That's how I got my first AV, which is still alive BTW. I am just hoping the stuff on her leaf stems is just some buildup and not mold...

Shannon


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RE: African Violets in Gritty Mix or 5:1:1

That would worry me - the leaf stems. You might want to pop over to the AV forum and see what they have to say.

Yeah, one of those weather stations is what I have. I can tell indoor and outdoor temp and humidity, etc.


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Fellow Weather Nerd

I think we might have one of those old fashioned, 3 dial type barometers =D

Which kind of weather station do you have? I'd like to get one with multiple 'satellites'. My dad has been thru prolly 4 different brands so far... Him and I have a little 'problem' with electronic type gadgets going wonky on us for no apparent reason.

I just (top) watered the plants. I am no longer worried about whatever that white stuff is at all (at least until I replant)! Since I took their humidity rocks away, everybody is happy, very very happy!

Even the pot with just the leaves has new growth coming from everywhere. Maybe having them close together and near some aloe is enough to sustain that minimum 60%. Or it could be that I didn't have the rocks high enough or the water low enough, prolly both...

I'm gonna try to repot one hopefully soon. Yeah, I know, now that they seem happier, lets change things again... Hopefully there is always room for more happiness.

TTYL
Shannon


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RE: African Violets in Gritty Mix or 5:1:1

The weather station is not a name brand; we've had it for at least 8 years and all we've done is replace the batteries. I can't remember where we bought it, but I doubt it was anything expensive. It says La Crosse Technologies on it...made in China.

Hubby is an engineer, so every gadget works because they are afraid of him, lol.


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RE: African Violets in Gritty Mix or 5:1:1

Too funny! I will need your address so when ours wonks out I can send it over for a good talking to (LOL!!=D). My dad and I say, "it's our electric personality"... but it is definitely existent.

His inside meter is always the one to just simply fade away. He won't bother with things other than to change batteries or clean leads (unless it is mechanical).

How are your plantlets doing?


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RE: African Violets in Gritty Mix or 5:1:1

I am up to 4 leaves with plantlets, now. One of them has only one plantlet, while two of them have at least 3. I realize AVs can take up to a year before giving forth, so it will be an adventure to see how many I get. But, even if I only got 2 per leaf, I will have many more than I could possibly continue to grow to adulthood, so will be looking for homes for some of them, I imagine.


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RE: African Violets in Gritty Mix or 5:1:1

I haven't really peeked too much other than to water, but like I said, mine are much happier so far without the rocks. I guess when our humidity finally gets lower, I'll have to figure that part out.

If they take up to a year, I'd say you are off to a great start.

Congrats!
Shannon


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RE: African Violets in Gritty Mix or 5:1:1

I am only top watering. They are still very very happy! I've got a bit of crust here and there but it is diminishing. I found some really skinny drawer organizers from the $ Tree and put some plastic trays beneath them to catch the water. So hopefully, once I have the proper ingredients, I will repot, and they shall live happily ever after.

My leaf (breaks) cuttings are doing fabulous as well. I think everybody is thankful I took the wet rocks away =D

Hope yours are doing great too
Shannon


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RE: African Violets in Gritty Mix or 5:1:1

I just wish I had actual plants to try in the gritty mix! I want those leaves and their plantlets to grow more quickly! I have about 8 leaves with plantlets, but they are tiny, tiny, tiny yet. Once I get plantlets large enough to separate (probably 1-2 months), I don't know if I should start in the gritty mix or not. I haven't a clue as to how delicate they are. Maybe, since I'll have multiple plantlets of the same variety, I'll try some in the gritty mix and some in the traditional 1:1:1 AV mix.

Glad yours are doing well, too.


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RE: African Violets in Gritty Mix or 5:1:1

This thread was 2 years ago - how did everyone's AVs do in the gritty mix?


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RE: African Violets in Gritty Mix or 5:1:1

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Apr 7, 11 at 9:16

I'm not an AV person, but this thread prompted me to buy a couple of AVs just to see how they would do under my care in the gritty mix. I bare-rooted and repotted them almost immediately after I brought them home, and they've been fine ever since. I'll likely take them out of the little bonsai pots I have them growing in and repot into clay post this summer. I'll probably give them away as a little gift to some unsuspecting garden visitor this summer. ;o) I'll be sure to snap a couple of new pictures before I do. There are some year-old pictures floating around on a few threads.

I've been watering from the top and fertilizing at every watering with 15 drops (stepped up recently from 12) of FP 9-3-6 per gallon of water and flushing the soil each time I water. I use a homemade nozzle on my watering can that allows a perfect 1/8" stream to come out, This allows me to direct the solution under leaves and to avoid wetting the crown.

I'm just a dabbler that wanted to try them to satisfy my curiosity and refresh my memory with regard to how they do in the gritty mix. That done, I'll likely find room for some other challenge. LO is much more serious about them than I, so I would place considerable value on her observations once she discovers the thread's resurrection. ;o)

Al


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RE: African Violets in Gritty Mix or 5:1:1

Thanks - great to hear! I am planning on getting one but had never heard of anyone putting AVs in the mix and it seemed to be the only one - I thought maybe they were the only plant that doesn't do well in it!


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RE: African Violets in Gritty Mix or 5:1:1

It is my belief that the gardening/growing industry has perpetrated, and perpetuated, one common, basic way of growing everything for so long that most people don't even think twice about it. They purchase what's offered, and take at face value that that's the only way there is. Everyone just continues to follow the crowd, though I bet if you asked them why, they'd have no specific answers.

The industry has offered nothing but peat based products, and growing in them has been the norm since bagged potting soil was introduced. Only specialized areas of growing offer anything different, like bonsai, or hydroponics... that sort of thing.

In most areas of life, people tend to fear what's new or different. They fear change. It's human nature. And I think many people are hesitant to try other methods, or to believe that there is a better way, through science and physics. The growing industry certainly isn't prompting people to explore options or dig deeper for knowledge, no pun intended.

I've mentioned a couple of times that I've always had issues with African Violets, but I'd bet I would have a much easier time growing them now that I've expanded my knowledge and my way of thinking about growing containerized plants.

If memory serves, and I wouldn't bet on it because my memory is so poor, I recall Al saying at one time that the only plant he ever met that didn't do well in the Gritty Mix was Ledebouria, or Silver Squill. It seems to require a more consistently moist environment. I still wouldn't pot it in a peat based bagged mix, but I would change the medium recipe slightly, and perhaps include an ingredient, in a small ratio, that was a bit finer or more moisture retentive.

I only wish I had the room to grow a few African Violets now. They are sold locally, and they're inexpensive, although the variety available is very basic.

So... I'm assuming that everyone is doing wonderful things with AVs and Gritty Mix? I'd love to see some pictures... the flowers are so pretty!


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RE: African Violets in Gritty Mix or 5:1:1

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Apr 7, 11 at 17:31

I didn't modify anything for my plants, just stuck them in the regular 1:1:1, but I'm pretty sure LO did some sort of modification - I'm sure I read that in a thread recently. Hopefully she'll be along to share.

Al


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RE: African Violets in Gritty Mix or 5:1:1

It's funny how some people have trouble growing particular plants ans some don't. I've been growing AV's for years because my wife loves them and never did anything special with them. I grew them in those special Violet bottom watering pots, with regular AV planting mix and used just standard AV fertilizer when I did fertilize which wasn't often at all. They grew OK, some flowered some died because they would go some time without watering.

I decided to repot them in the gritty mix in just regular pots and I started to water on a regular schedule with Foliage Pro. I have to say that they have never looked better they they do now. I've never seen them flower as much and this theory that you have to water them everyday just isn't accurate IMO. I water once a week without issue.


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RE: African Violets in Gritty Mix or 5:1:1

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sun, May 29, 11 at 21:15

I agree - I just bare-rooted the plant, put it in the gritty mix and grew it all summer in open shade, fertilizing weekly with FP 9-3-6. When the weather changed, it went indoors under fluorescent lights & got fertilized every time I watered with a low dose of 9-3-6. .... no problems at all.

Al


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RE: African Violets in Gritty Mix or 5:1:1

So Al, how are the violets doing? Did you give them away? or are you still growing them?


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RE: African Violets in Gritty Mix or 5:1:1

I have a leaf of an AV i have been trying to propagate for about 4 months now. I started the attempt because i had to trim an AV i just bought to get it into a small terrarium. I kept the best looking leave with intent to propagate just for fun, an experiment.

Make along story short, I have learned much since then. :-) The roots were completely rotten when we got it, and the AV died quickly, very quickly. So, i decided I didn't want to buy another one. I wanted to just see if the leaf would grow a plantlet. After about 3 months, it had put out roots, and then suddenly took a turn for the worse. Leaf started dying from the tip. Pulled it out and looked at it, the end of the petiole had rotted in the 1-1-1(peat/perlite/vermiculite) This may not have happened if i had it in a dryer, warmer area. I think it was really the coolness along with the dampness that did it in.

Long story short, i trimmed the rot off the leaf tip and the petiole. Put in gritty mix and under a light. The necrosis has not returned and the leaf has an impressive root system, to the bottom of the container. I expect a plantlet soon. The tray its setting in is just the lid from a chinese takeout container with an "eggcrate light grate" cut to fit. This allows water to drain after being water without the containers setting in water. Also, under the lights the water evaporates quickly and must, at least temporarily, increase the humidity.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Plaskolite-4-ft-x-2-ft-Suspended-Light-Ceiling-Panel-1199233A/202025149#.UpZM_MRDvuM

I will post updates here when/if the plantlet emerges and as it grows into an adult plant.

Sure would be easier to go buy another AV, but I enjoy the journey almost as much as the destination. Happy growning. :-)


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RE: African Violets in Gritty Mix or 5:1:1

Was reading some old threads trying to gain more insight into media, and found a picture of one of Al's african violets in gritty mix in another thread. Since I've been curious for pictures since I first read THIS thread, I copied the picture here. The thread the picture is from is linked to this post,. I hope this is OK.

Al's African Violet in Gritty Mix
 photo cotoneaster048.jpg

Here is a link that might be useful: many pictures, includes an african violet in gritty mix


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RE: African Violets in Gritty Mix or 5:1:1

Looks like Optimara Little Azurite.

I decided to try an inorganic bonsai mix that I bought off ebay that has pumice, turface, and lava rock...we'll see how it goes.

I tried making 511 but I'm pretty sure I did it wrong. Also I have a lot of success using domes to propagate, but when I switched to 511 the bark got mold within a couple of days. The soil I used before didn't get any mold, so I'm gonna stick with that until I try this other mix.


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RE: African Violets in Gritty Mix or 5:1:1

Hey plantcrazed - I didn't see this until today.

I've finally had success. It took me a LONG time. In my experience, AVs cannot dry out at all - you lose roots immediately. But, they can't be wet or they rot. Of all the plants I grow, I call them the Goldilocks of watering, lol.

I kept losing roots and the plants weren't thriving. If I watered more, it was too wet and I lost them. If I watered less, I'd find that they had a very poor root structure. I finally ended up with a mix that works for ME and how I water. But, part of that was learning more about what AVs require - at least in my environment, humidity, temp, etc.

I usually water them every 2-3 days - which is a lot compared to AVs in a peat mix - sometimes people water them only once every 2 weeks! I have to really pay attention in the summer. I couldn't use a straight gritty mix because it dried out too quickly between waterings. It would be fine today, then tomorrow dry - and the plant would have had potentially a few minutes to many hours being dry. The roots would suffer.

To try and fix it, I put a wick in all my pots. I started by watering when it was dry - but that was too long to wait. The wick needs to be barely damp when I water - wetting than that and it's too much, but dryer and it's too dry. So, sometimes I'd check the wick and see that it was damp so I wouldn't water. I'd check the next day, but in 24 hours, it had completely dried out. So, I've learned I MUST water at times when it seems it wouldn't need it. It took time for me to get it right. Changing the mix helped me get a mix that was a bit more forgiving.

I currently use about 40% perlite, 25% bark, 25% potting mix, and 5% Turface - I don't always measure anymore because now I know what I need it to be. This works in summer and winter, though in the winter I often add more Turface. Sometimes I use an orchid potting mix, something something else, but I try to use a bark-based mix that is finer than the bark I use. I LOVED the Vita-Bark that Al used to get from the company in Dundee, IL. I bought 2 bags about a month before they closed, just for my gesneriads and I'm down to about 1/8th of a bag and kicking myself for not buying 6 or 7 bags :-(.

I still repot AVs very frequently. As you remove leaves and they grow that 'neck' they have to be repotted. I had about 50 AVs when I first wrote this - now I have many hundreds along with streps, episcias, and a few other gesneriads, all in the same version of gritty mix.


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