African violets from seed … you need patience Essay

African violets from seed . . . you need patience

If you’re already sold on African violets, the idea of growing
them from seed might be intriguing. The payoff is slow–nearly a year
until the first blooms appear–but the challenge can be its own reward
for fans of these popular indoor plants.

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Choose a small shallow container with bottom drain holes and fill
with a water-retentive medium such as fine-textured peat moss. You can
use the compressed peat pellets available at nurseries by soaking them,
then removing the netting. Or use a packaged African violet mix.

Moisten the medium, then smooth the surface. With a small pointed
stick, such as a plant label, make shallow (about 1/8-inch-deep) furrows
spaced 1 inch apart. Gently tap out the tiny seeds as shown above.
This demands care, but is worth the effort, since seedlings will be
crowded otherwise. Do not cover seeds.

Mist lightly, then enclose container in a plastic bag with a few
holes poked in it. Put container in a warm spot (about 75|). The
planting medium should remain moist; if you notice signs of drying, mist
again with tepid water.

When the first tiny greenery emerges, three to four weeks after
sowing, set container in a bright spot (3 inches below a fluorescent
light left on 12 to 14 hours per day is ideal). Poke more holes in the
plastic bag to increase air circulation. About a month later, remove
the bag.

After plants have sprouted, apply a very dilute solution of
fertilizer and tepid water about once a month.

Three to four months after sowing, plants should be growing well
and ready for transplanting to roomier quarters. Gently move them into
small containers (2-inch pots are fine). You’ll see the first
bloom about six months later.

Buying seed. Mail-order nurseries and some seed racks offer a
wider choice of varieties now, including bicolor and trailing types. For
a particularly broad selection, write for a free catalog from Geo. W.
Park Seed Co., Box 31, Greenwood, S.C. 29646.

Photo: Magnifying glass aids sowing of tiny African violet seeds.
She’s tapping the seed packet gently to space seeds about 1 inch
apart in shallow furrows

Photo: Four months after sowing, young plants are ready to go into
2-inch pots


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