Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"As Easy as Growing African Violets"

A couple of years ago I decided to see if this saying applied to "backbulbs" as well as healthy plants, so I got four African violet leaves. I drilled a small hole in a clay saucer, added a layer of pea gravel and a layer of bark. I placed the leaves on the bark and added more bark.

Three of the leaves quickly sprouted but the fourth did not. After waiting a year I tried to figure out what was different. I suspected that it was that the stem was holding the leaf slightly above the bark, so I added more bark up under the leaf and put it back in the greenhouse.

The fourth leaf has now sprouted! I am as excited as if it were an orchid, which surprises me a little. I am going to leave the saucer in the greenhouse at least until they bloom. They are four different varieties and it ought to be a nice display to have all four in bloom. Looking at the leaf color, I have decided to put it in less light, I may be stressing the plants by having them in too bright a location.


  1. I would recommend you switch to a peat moss/perlite media (moist, but not wet). Also, it would be better to divide and put each plantlet into an individual pot. I see 4 or 5 plantlets each from the first 3 mother leaves. Phalaenopsis level of light intensity. Good luck.

  2. I find it fascinating that they would sprout in bark. Probably would have used ProMix myself, or some sort of sandy potting soil, but hey, whatever works for you. They can handle some direct sun in early morning or late afternoon, but bright shade is your best bet -- like you would do for a Phaius or Jumellea.

  3. It’s amazing to see the nature. Very nice picture. Very impressive!!!


  4. The bark is watered every day now that summer is here and it drains well due to the rocks underneath. It shows me that orchids aren't the only plants what want to grow if given half a chance.