Saturday, February 26, 2011

Pit Stop at Deb's Lab

Lenny and I are on our way outta town, but first I suggested we take a detour and visit Deb's lab.
I met Deb thru Nancy back in November, and got to visit her lab then, and one thing I can tell you is that mere pictures cannot capture what you see there. She runs a lab that tests food and water samples, and she's got her hobby thriving at her workplace--African violets are EVERYWHERE! At least 25 (or more) stands chock full of well over over 5,000 plants! And streps, petrocosmeas, chiritas, as well as other "weeds"!

She's a great lady, very enthusiastic and full of delight. And generous--today she gave Lenny a HUGE number of strep cuttings and she gave me a plant of Ness' Crinkle Blue which I am thrilled about because it seems to be getting harder & harder to find ones that are blooming true with the white edge, and the flowers (when blooming true) on this plant make me not even care that it's a semiminiature, it is exceptional.

Here are a few pics I snapped at her lab, nothing like seeing it in person but this will give you at least a taste of what it's like....

Friday, February 25, 2011

Workin' Hard at the Windsor AVS Educational Table!

Oh who am I kidding, answering people's African violet questions is HARDLY work! I love doing this, and I hope to inflict my addiction onto lots of new people who didn't know much about the wonderful world of African violets!

I'm also handing out lots of Fuzzy Foliage cards--The lovely lady I'm handing one to in this picture below actually asked me for one! 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hi from Hartford!

Here's a quick pic Lenny snapped of Rob and I at The Violet Barn booth. Dig my new black kitty cat hat! I bought it from a vendor selling assorted knitted things. Gotta love the Connecticut Flower Show!

Rob claimed that he and Lenny must have a high tolerance for embarrassment to be seen with me wearing this hat. Lenny agreed. But what do they know? They're boys!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fuzzy Foliage Business Card

I just designed a little business card for Fuzzy Foliage:
Click to enlarge

Lenny is printing me up a stack to bring when he meets me tomorrow at the Connecticut Flower & Garden Show.

Ooooooh I can't wait to go to the show--Most of all, I'm looking forward to seeing Lenny!

Rob & Olive from The Violet Barn will be there selling their beautiful African violets, and it's always great to see them too, especially after such a long break after the fall show season.

Also, we'll be spending plenty of time with our dear friend Nancy Hayes at the Windsor African Violet Society's information table helping to answer people's plant questions.

So hopefully I'll be handing out the Fuzzy Foliage card to lots of people who will want to come here and follow along!

If you happen to be at the show this weekend and get one of my cards, please leave a comment here and let me know it worked! :-)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Video - Separating Micro Sinningia Babies

Remember a while back when I had that ridiculously tiny clump of micro Sinningia pusilla babies, and I was clueless as to how in the world they could be separated? Well, I finally got up the nerve to write Gesneriad Goddess Dale Martens and email asking for advice. (No she doesn't call herself Gesneriad Goddess, I've just dubbed her that 'cos she is simply one of THE most knowledgeable people out there when it comes to the "weeds"!) Anyhooz, she kindly gave me instructions on how to "easily" get 'em apart. I say "easily" in quotes because she said it was easy, but these things are soooo tiny I felt like I should get a degree in microsurgery to be able to successfully pull it off! Well guess what? I shouldn't have been fretting so much. She was right, it actually was pretty easy!

Instead of attempting it all by myself and then posting the results (or failure) later, I decided to turn on the video camera so that we could all go through it together! So just take a deep breath, steady your hands, and join me....

Ummm, can you tell I was a little nervous? Maybe it's not wise to let the world watch on your very first attempt at something scary.. Then again, why not?

Two weeks later and the babies are still alive & well, so it seems my first attempt at sinningia microsurgery baby separation was a success!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Rob's Fo Fum

Currently blooming on my light stand is this little miniature chimera Rob's Fo Fum.

For those of you out there who aren't familiar, chimera African violets are extra special. They are characterized by the distinctive pinwheel striped pattern, which is très cool. But what really makes them extra special is that they can't be propagated true from a leaf like a regular African violet. Sure you can put a leaf down and get a plant, but it will just have plain flowers, not the très cool pinwheel stripes. To get it to propagate true from the mother plant you have to wait around for a sucker to form and pluck that off, or you can chop off the crown and make a buncha suckers form and try to separate them out, or you can try planting a bloomstalk, OR you can use my super easy method which I will show you in an upcoming video, so stay tuned for that!

I should probably remove the flowers and buds off this guy and  do some grooming/leaf removal to try and make it into a show plant for the big AVSA National Convention in May, but I kinda just wanna have some flowers to enjoy right now. Then again, I kinda messed up while repotting stuff last week and took things down WAY too far and I'm afraid they won't grow fast enough for May.. So I dunno. Maybe I will chop off these flowers tomorrow. It's really hard tying to grow for show.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Remove A Label With Peanut Butter

Here's a handy household tip: Did you know you can remove labels using peanut butter? "But why are you telling me this, m3rma1d? Did I take a wrong turn and stumble onto the Heloise blog?" Nope! This is a handy household tip for African violet growers because by removing labels from plastic containers, we can make awesome little miniature greenhouses for our leaf cuttings and rootless suckers!

Of course, you may already remove labels using some kinda commercial product such as Goo Gone®, but not everyone has that handy--or maybe you wanna try something different. Oh yeah I've also heard you can use rubbing alcohol, but didn't I just say maybe you wanna try something different? Also, this is a great way to use up an old jar of peanut butter that's gone rancid. The jar I use for removing labels tastes awful 'cos it's like 6 or 7 years old--But it smells great, so it's still an enjoyable experience (altho I usually have to pop a Reece's miniature to calm my craving after smelling it!)
So, on with the tutorial! All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

First, get a jar of peanut butter, a butter knife, and a container with a label you want to remove. I especially wanted to remove this label so that I could get rid of any evidence that I had that organic hippie stuff in my home. (a friend brought it over here I swear--I just wanted baby spinach & spring mix, I NEVER said to get the fancy organic crap!)

Next, start spreading on the peanut butter! Just a nice even thin layer.

Here's what the nice even thin layer should look like when you're done. Now you gotta be patient and let this sit overnight. Tik tok tik tok... That reminds me of a song!

After letting the container sit with the peanut butter overnight, start peeling the label off.

 NOTE: For fairly large labels and/or for labels with a "glossy" coating, you may find that the very center may not come up and you need to re-spread with peanut butter and let it sit overnight again. (the label in these pictures is both large and had a glossy coating, so I had to do just that.)

Once you get all of the label removed just use soap, water, and a sponge to remove all the peanut butter. You don't HAVE to use a pink sponge and pink soap, it just makes you cooler if you do.

Whoohoo! Now you have a miniature greenhouse to put on your growing shelf for your leaf cuttings and rootless suckers to go into. The high humidity is important for them since they have no roots, and also you won't have to remember to water as often! Do remember to water when the soil gets dry, just don't make them soggy or they will rot quickly! On the opposite end of that, don't be fooled by condensation that may appear on the container and think everything has enough water. You can have lots of condensation and the soil can still be dry, so be sure to check at least once a week!

In addition to leaves and suckers, I also find that anytime a plant isn't acting it's usual self, I can put it in a container such as this for a few days to perk it up. I dunno what the whole technical scientific explanation is, I just call it "hospital time" and leave it at that. Hmmm speaking of "hospital", that reminds me of another song!

Yeah I really did go from Ke$ha to Jonathan Richman in a single blog post. That's me! And at least now you have a little entertainment while you're waiting for the peanut butter oils to seep into the label glue. You're welcome.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Currently blooming on my shelf is this adorable miniature African violet Chimpansy.

Click to enlarge

Chimpansy (7393) 07/02/1990 (A. Murphy) Single fuchsia two-tone ruffled bell/variable white stripe and tips. Light green, glossy, wavy/light red back. Miniature

I snapped a buncha pics of it and when I was trying to decide which one to post here on the blog, I couldn't decide! The flowers on Chimpansy are like snowflakes, each one just a leeeeettle bit different from the other. I finally narrowed it down to the 4 pics above.

I wanted this plant ever since I first started growing and saw it in pictures, it's just so different and CUTE! And trust me, it's even more cute in person. The flowers are so tiny and delicate, and the patterns on them are just so cool. And even though it has stripe-like features, it isn't actually a chimera, so it will propagate true from leaves! (It can, however, sport to all-solid blossoms--just like any other African violet can.)

I will admit that it has two annoying habits I don't like.
One: Wavy foliage, which isn't my favest. Hard to grow a nice flat rosette with that stuff going all wiley (for me, anyways)
Two: The flowers are droppers--meaning that after a coupla days, they just fall off the plant.

But I really love the way the flowers look so much that I will put up with the flaws and just accept Chimpansy for who it is.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sinningia muscicola Seed Pod

Ooooh, my Sinningia muscicola (formerly called "Rio das Padres") seems to have impregnated itself--Check out that big seed pod forming!

How romantic, just in time for Valentine's Day <3

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Video - Starting African Violets From Leaves

I made a video showing how I put down African violet leaves to propagate new baby plants.
This is especially for the beginners out there, because I wanna get more people interested in this awesome hobby!

As always, I welcome your comments and questions.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Strange Things That Happen: Belinda's Strange Leaf Baby

Belinda Thibodeaux shared this photo of a very weird occurrence!
She writes:
I know you all have probably seen this before, but it never fails to amaze me what these plants can do. This is a leaf of Yoki propagating in Sphagnum Moss. See the baby growing out of the leaf itself? It's not even touching the moss.

I don't know about everyone else, but I've certainly never seen that happen before. As most of us know, the babies growing from the base of the leaf are "proper". The rogue baby growing from the top/center of the leaf is just crazy--It actually made me giggle when I first saw it!

By the way, for anyone not familiar with Belinda--she's the hybridizer of the new Cajun's series of African violets. (Quick, open your FC2 program and look!) Also, you can check out her online photo albums and see her beautiful hybrids as well as all of the other beautiful African violets she grows (and wow, does she ever grow 'em good!)

Have you had any strange occurrences among your African violets that you'd like to share? Who among us doesn't love to stare at a freak once in a while? Please email me your pics with a blurb to: Remember--Weirdos make the world a more interesting place!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Long Neck? Off With Its Head!

Made a new vid for people with African violets that are starting to resemble palm or bonsai trees with the long (sometimes twisting/coiling/winding) crazy necks. Get to chopping, folks!

Hope it's good--Comments welcome!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Results of Last Month's Poll

Here are the results of last months poll--Only 24 total votes this round! :-(
Probably because I wasn't doing much updating while I was at Lenny's, so there weren't as visitors coming in for the better part of the month. (and from what I've noticed, only around 1% of visitors actually vote--whaaa!)
I will try to be better about posting more next time I am visiting him--It's not like his growing shelves are bare--He has more plants than I do!

Interesting poll results, anyways. By the looks of it, only a quarter of you are flat-out "weed haters". But hopefully you won't mind it too much when some "weed" (aka gesneriad) related-posts find their way to my blog--Don't worry, it will always be first and foremost an AFRICAN VIOLET blog! :-)

To the 1 person who doesn't know what a gesneriad is: It is the family of plants that the African violet (and other plants featured on this blog) belong to. You can do more reading here, 'cos I'm not really great at explaining botany/plant classification. They are fascinating and I hope you didn't stumble here by accident!

For the 54% growing other gesneriads, I wonder what you're growing... Care to comment?

For those 16% who are thinking of trying some, I'm curious which ones they're interested in. Let me know! What do you want to learn about? Lenny grows just about every gesneriad there is, so I have access to it all--We can all learn together!

I NEVER thought I'd say this, but I am seriously considering trying my first streptocarpus soon. I fell in love with one named Seren back in October, and I made Lenny buy it for his collection (I often do that with things I love but don't necessarily want on my own shelves). He quickly fell for it as well. Well, months later I am still SO in love with it that I might just need him to propagate me a baby of it. Luckily, it's not a huge monster of a strep. So maybe I will try it out. It just better stay small! I don't enjoy growing big plants.. Not only do I not have room, I just don't get personal enjoyment from them.. Hard to explain. Something about growing on a tiny scale just makes me feel magical. (I do enjoy seeing other people's huge plants, however--Go figure!)

And of course I am loving my microminiature sinningias. I can't wait until spring so I can get more! (Altho, I will miss the snow--Yes I am one of those weirdos that LOVES snow!)

But my true love will always be my miniature African violets.

That reminds me--I seriously need to repot my African violets! But that means I need to ORDER pots! Time to call John at Cape Cod Violetry! I just love him and his wife, Barbara. <3

PS: Don't forget to vote in February's poll, located on the right-hand side of the page! 
This month's question: "How many African violets do you have?"

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