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 growingthem from seed might be intriguing. The payoff is slow–nearly a yearuntil the first blooms appear–but the challenge can be its own rewardfor fans of these popular indoor plants.

Choose a small shallow container with bottom drain holes and fillwith a water-retentive medium such as fine-textured peat moss. You canuse 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 pointedstick, such as a plant label, make shallow (about 1/8-inch-deep) furrowsspaced 1 inch apart. Gently tap out the tiny seeds as shown above.This demands care, but is worth the effort, since seedlings will becrowded otherwise. Do not cover seeds.

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Mist lightly, then enclose container in a plastic bag with a fewholes poked in it. Put container in a warm spot (about 75|). Theplanting medium should remain moist; if you notice signs of drying, mistagain with tepid water. When the first tiny greenery emerges, three to four weeks aftersowing, set container in a bright spot (3 inches below a fluorescentlight left on 12 to 14 hours per day is ideal). Poke more holes in theplastic bag to increase air circulation. About a month later, removethe bag. After plants have sprouted, apply a very dilute solution offertilizer and tepid water about once a month.

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

Buying seed. Mail-order nurseries and some seed racks offer awider choice of varieties now, including bicolor and trailing types. Fora 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 inchapart in shallow furrows Photo: Four months after sowing, young plants are ready to go into2-inch pots


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